The PRWeek team has been busy dissecting and analyzing the performance of 68 PR agencies. When you’ve checked and rechecked numbers, stats, accounts, M&A, people, and trends, you can truly say you have garnered an insight into the forces driving the development of communications.
The overall story is pretty positive, with the 177 agencies that gave us revenue numbers growing overall by 13%, one percentage point less for the top 50. Of the elite agencies that achieve revenues in excess of $100 million, most of which are part of holding companies and don’t reveal numbers, the story is more mixed.
Edelman, Weber Shandwick, and GolinHarris performed well in terms of organic revenue growth, up 11.4%, 10%, and 10.5%, respectively. But others were flat, and some were down. Ketchum grew in the "high single digits," but that was principally driven by the acquisition of agencies including Capstrat.
In the midsize sector some firms performed impressively, driven by a mixture of organic growth and acquisitions. The newly independent Finn Partners was up 62%; Lewis PR 56%; Hager Sharp 48%; Newlink Group 39%; Zeno Group 35%; and Shift Communications 31%. Cooney/Waters, Citizen Relations, and RF|Binder were down.
The midsize shops are looking to add new resources in the content space and to grow their global footprints to retain and attract multinational clients. There will be more M&A deals in 2014 as evidence of this.
The overriding impression is that PR is changing. It’s no longer just about earned media. Paid, shared, and owned are just as crucial. And firms of all sizes are reshaping themselves to reflect clients’ desire to commission these services in an integrated way.