PR part of WPP's '06 rise

LONDON: WPP Group on August 18 reported a 16% rise in revenue to $5.73 billion for the first six months of 2006 compared with the year-earlier period, including an 11% rise in PR and public affairs revenues to nearly $546 million.

LONDON: WPP Group on August 18 reported a 16% rise in revenue to $5.73 billion for the first six months of 2006 compared with the year-earlier period, including an 11% rise in PR and public affairs revenues to nearly $546 million.

Excluding the impact of acquisitions and changes in currency values, revenue at the company rose 5%, while PR and public affairs in particular were up 5.5% compared with the first half of 2005.

Howard Paster, WPP Group EVP of PR, told PRWeek that the half-year PR results reflected strong growth with larger clients - those with accounts worth at least $1 million to $2 million annually - and particularly those in the tech and pharma industries.

WPP chairman Martin Sorrell said in a teleconference that the rising influence of blogs and other online activities is altering the PR and public affairs professions, and has been a major factor in WPP's recent acquisitions, including Public Strategies, Visible Technologies, and Dewey Square Group (DSG), which it acquired August 17.

Digitally related activities, which now account for about 20% of the company's approximate $11 billion in annual revenues, provide "a new lease on life for PR and public affairs," said Sorrell.

WPP's acquisition of DC-based DSG for an undisclosed amount earned the company an agency with strong skills in grassroots advocacy and an impressive list of Fortune 500 companies and other clients, Paster said.

"We already have a good grassroots firm in Direct Impact, which has a strong Republican tradition," Paster said. "Dewey Square has a strong Democratic tradition, so they make nice bookends."

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