PR revenues slump at Omnicom Group

PR revenues at Omnicom Group declined more than those in its advertising business in 2008 - and slumped by more than ten per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter.

The company, which owns Fleishman-Hillard, Ketchum, Porter-Novelli and Gavin Anderson, had a strong first half of 2008, according to results out this week.

Omnicom Group EVP and CFO Randall Weisenburger blamed the subsequent drop in PR revenues on ‘general softness’ in the economy.

Omnicom’s PR revenues have now declined for two consecutive quarters, surp­rising those who expected the discipline to be more resilient  than advertising in the current recession.

The results have raised eyebrows among senior industry figures. ‘The knee-jerk reaction is to be surprised,’ said Lean Agency principal Simon Quarendon. ‘Because advertising has generally been dec­lining and PR growing.’

PR accounted for nine per cent of Omnicom’s total earnings during 2008. For the entire year, PR revenues fell
by 0.4 per cent to US$1.27bn.

Adv­ertising revenues inc­reased by five per cent over the same period.

Richard Hemming, head of marketing and insight at media analysts Billetts, was not surprised that PR budgets were under pressure: ‘The PR community could help by proving the returns PR generates in the same sort of language that marketing directors have developed if they are to defend against cuts of more drastic proportions.’

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