NEW YORK: PR executives' average billing rates were flat in 2011, compared with the prior year, according to a report from communications consultancy StevensGouldPincus.
The report, which surveyed 105 agencies in the US, found that PR firms' average billing rate for presidents and CEOs was $361 per hour last year, $1 more than in 2010. At the account executive level, the average hourly rate was $151, down $2 per hour from the previous year.
“I was hoping to see a higher increase in hourly rates. I think firms are just a little nervous and afraid to be aggressive on raising rates,” said Rick Gould, managing partner at StevensGouldPincus.
Among agencies with $25 million or more in annual revenue, the billing rate for CEOs was $517 per hour, but it was $300 an hour for the leaders of smaller firms.
Executives at agencies that specialize in sports, entertainment, healthcare, and public affairs had the highest billing rates.
The survey also found that the productivity levels of SVPs and EVPs fell short of StevensGouldPincus' benchmarks. On average, senior-level VPs billed out two-thirds (66%) of their hourly capacity, which the firm estimated at about 1,700 hours per year. Account executives billed for more than 91% of their hours.
“Productivity shouldn't be less than 90%, but invariably it is,” Gould said. “Where are the other hours going? Sometimes they're not recording all their time, or business could be slow during certain periods.”