Omnicom PR revenue declines for fourth straight quarter

Omnicom PR Group's revenue dropped 2.5% in Q4 and 2% in 2019

Omnicom CEO John Wren
Omnicom CEO John Wren

NEW YORK: Omnicom Group’s public relations firms reported an organic revenue drop of 2.5% in Q4 to $358.3 million and a decrease of 2% for the full year to $1.3 billion. 

PR accounted for 9.2% of the company’s billings last year. PR revenue comprised 8.6% of Omnicom’s quarterly sales with advertising making up the lion’s share at 58.2%. 

The agencies within Omnicom Public Relations Group include FleishmanHillard, Ketchum, Marina Maher Communications and Porter Novelli. Top executives from Ketchum and Porter Novelli declined to comment. Executives from FleishmanHillard and Marina Maher Communications could not be reached for comment.

On the company earnings call, Omnicom CEO John Wren said that "the profitability of the PR division has been and remains very strong." 

"So the opportunity is a marketplace opportunity; it’s not anything structurally to do with the business at the point," he said. 

Omnicom as a whole reported global revenue of $4.1 billion in Q4, up 3.5% organically from 2018. Its 2019 revenue increased 2.8% organically to $14.9 billion. Net income in Q4 increased 3.9% to $415 million, and operating profit in Q4 was $646.4 million. Omnicom also posted net income of $1.3 billion for all of 2019.

Omnicom posted U.S. revenue of $2.1 billion in Q4, a 2.8% increase organically. European revenue increased by 4.7%, the U.K. was up 3.3% and Latin American revenue decreased by 1.3% organically.

For the full year, the U.S. saw 2.7% organic growth, while other markets in North America were up 4.2%. The U.K. saw 3.3% organic growth in 2019; Europe reported a 3% rise; Asia-Pacific saw a 2.2% uptick; and revenue dropped in Latin America by 0.2%. In the Middle East and Africa, revenue increased by 6.5% organically last year.

The holding company made a number of major personnel changes in its PR group in Q4. OPRG CEO Karen van Bergen stepped down to become dean of Omnicom University at the start of this year. John Doolittle, president of Omnicom’s DAS Group of Companies, is filling in the role while the holding company seeks a permanent replacement. 

Omnicom said in Q4 that Brad MacAfee, CEO of OPRG agency Porter Novelli, would be leaving the company, following the elimination of the role of Jennifer Swint, global president, in October. 

Last month, Omnicom PR Group entered an alliance with LaVoieHealthScience, a Boston-based investor relations and PR shop.

This story was updated on February 11 with comment from the earnings call. 

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