Organic revenue down for Weber Shandwick in Q1

Interpublic Group's first-quarter results suggest the PR agency sector still has work to do to pull out of last year's tough business environment.

NEW YORK: Growth was tepid in Weber Shandwick’s first quarter of 2018 trading, mirroring Q1 results at the rest of IPG’s Constituency Management Group, according to figures released Friday morning.

Weber Shandwick CEO Andy Polansky said Q1 revenue at the holding company’s largest PR firm "grew by low single digits on an as-reported basis and declined slightly on an organic basis."

At CMG, which contains Weber and PR firms Golin, DeVries Global, Current Marketing, Creation, and The Axis Agency (and some marketing specialist agencies), organic revenue grew 0.6 % in the first quarter to $292.7 million.

But Polansky said he’s hearing and seeing better things from clients.

"We’re cautiously optimistic of good growth in our two largest brands [Weber and Golin] in 2018," he added. "We’re seeing a lot of new business activity and good conversion and organic growth in key clients."

Polansky said his optimism was broadbased: "We’ve had conversations with clients across industry sectors and geographies. And the tone of business seems to be improving. Brands are starting to focus on top-line growth and marketing overall."

Weber did well internationally, especially in Europe, he said, adding that last year’s North American softness is "beginning to turn across sectors" and "spend levels are picking up."

Polansky also expects healthcare and tech, which he said were big drivers for Weber last year, to remain strong in 2018.

PRWeek’s Agency Business Report 2018, released this week, showed Weber’s performance  was flat in 2017, with global revenue stagnant at $805.5 million, compared to organic growth of 10% in 2016. Golin grew 3% globally in 2017, hitting revenues of $208 million.

IPG’s overall organic net revenue grew 3.6% for the quarter, which includes 4.3% in the U.S., to $1.8 billion. The holding company’s operating income was $38.8 million and it saw a net loss of $16.1 million.

Holding company CEO Michael Roth told PRWeek for the ABR 2018: "We are cautiously optimistic about our PR businesses in 2018. The PR brands in IPG’s portfolio all have very strong reputations and have strengthened their offerings over the past few years.

"In particular, we continue to deepen our relationships with key clients, which will drive our performance more than any events such as the World Cup or Olympics."

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