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, overall revenue at the company rose 5%, while PR and public affairs in particular were up 5.5% compared with the first half of 2005.
WPP chairman Sir Martin Sorrell said in a teleconference that the growing influence of social networking in the form of blogs and other online activities is significantly altering the PR and public affairs professions, and has been a major factor in recent acquisitions by the firm, including Public Strategies, Visible Technologies, and Dewey Square Group.
"All the online activities and blogs in particular [have] complicated publicity," noted Sorrell, who said editorial publicity has become more effective than paid-for publicity. "The role of word-of-mouth marketing has become more important and I think it's given a new lease on life for public relations and public affairs."
The growth in size and influence of digital media is affecting operations across WPP as a whole, the company said, with digitally-related activities now accounting for about 20% of the company's approximate overall $11 billion in annual revenues.