Revenues jump 17% for WPP PR and PA divisions in 2008

LONDON: The WPP Group reported that revenue for PR and public affairs increased 17% to about $1.1 billion in 2008, compared to $904 million in 2007.

LONDON: The WPP Group reported that revenue for PR and public affairs increased 17% to about $1.1 billion in 2008, compared to $904 million in 2007.

WPP, the second largest holding company for PR by revenues, announced its earnings March 6.

It reported a 4.9% increase in revenue on a like-for-like basis, making PR and public affairs WPP's fastest growing communications services sector, for the year ending December 31, 2008, compared to 2007.

Overall revenues at WPP increased by 21% to about $10.6 billion in 2008. It also reported that billings jumped more than 16% to $52.1 billion. Profit for the year was about $724.5 million, less than half a percent decline from 2007 totals.

WPP noted that it had a strong first half, but a weaker second half. It attributed the growth for PR and public affairs in 2008 to the use of new technologies, new media, and polling techniques.

WPP recognized Hill & Knowlton, Burson-Marsteller, and Ogilvy PR Worldwide as “particularly strong” US firms in a company statement.

CEOs from these agencies either declined to comment for this article or could not be reached.

For 2009, WPP said revenue will be down 2% on a like-for-like basis, although PR and public affairs, along with media investment management, insight and consultancy, and healthcare and direct, among others, are expected to stay strong in 2009.

Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, noted in the earnings webcast that consumers will be “more aware of the CSR, environmental, and social issues” when the recession is over. He added that “clients are under tremendous pressure.”

In comparison, Omnicom Group reported revenues of $13.4 billion in 2008, a 5% increase compared to 2007, and less than half a percent revenue decline for its PR sector.

The smaller Interpublic Group reported a 6.2% increase in revenues to $6.96 billion in 2008. Its Constituency Management Group, which houses the PR division, produced a 4% increase to $1.1 billion in revenues for the year.

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