Sorrell predicts PR upsurge in 2004

LONDON - WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell has said the PR industry will bounce back stronger and faster than its marketing services rivals, but not until 2004.

Speaking at a select briefing for overseas journalists at the Foreign Press Association's London offices, the FTSE 100 firm's CEO said that though PR had been hit surprisingly hard by the global economic downturn, the industry would have a strong upsurge when the market recovers.

Nevertheless, Sir Martin confirmed his earlier predictions that the economy and communications industry will not fully recover until 2004.

He said: 'We did not see the PR downturn coming -- we thought PR would be more insulated in a recession than it was 10 years ago. Because it was more specialised and people focused on healthcare, technology and so on, it was assumed they'd be more protected, but that hasn't been the case and PR has been cyclically more affected.'

He added: 'But when the recovery comes, we'll see a cyclical upswing that will be stronger in the PR industry than in other industries.'

He predicted there would be gradual investment this year and next, with stronger investment returning in 2004.

On possible reasons for the extent of the PR downturn, the WPP chief said it could be a result of geographical budget control.

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