ANALYSIS: THIS WEEK’S BIG QUESTION - Is PR still a growth industry?

PR Week’s Top 150 agencies grew by five per cent last year, compared to 21 per cent in 1996

PR Week’s Top 150 agencies grew by five per cent last year,

compared to 21 per cent in 1996

Lorna Tilbian, Panmure Gordon

’There is no doubt that the communications sector as a whole is growing

and within this PR. Recruitment is the biggest issue the industry faces

because it is still growing quickly and it is not keeping pace in

recruiting good people. However, the future looks good because with the

globalisation of media perception has seemingly become more important

than reality to many companies.’

Paul Miller, Countrywide Porter Novelli

’The industry remains in a strong condition. We have seen particular

growth in a sector of the market we call corporate responsibility. This

work is high level and capable of producing high margins. However, the

increased momentum toward measurement and evaluation has to continue

from a purely commercial point of view because it is inevitable that

there will be another recession. If PR is not well equipped to

substantiate its value then it will suffer more when times are hard and

budgets scrutinised.’

Mark Mellor, Firefly

’I was shocked that growth was as low as five per cent. All the agencies

I know, in hi-tech and new media services, are growing faster than


The biggest issue is still recruitment. We’ve got to attract good people

from outside the industry rather than poaching. This is difficult

because if people are coming from technology or management consultancy

backgrounds they tend to be very well paid.’

Peter Walker, President IPR

’Five per cent growth is perfectly respectable when you consider

underpinning levels of inflation and fee income is not necessarily an

indicator of profitability. Strides have been taken in recent years to

improve management standards and this means that agencies and in-house

departments are acting more cost effectively and productively than they

ever have. ’

David McLaren, Hill and Knowlton

’Yes. PR has moved on from being a commodity business where everybody

benefits. Five per cent is the average but there is a wide distribution

of growth rate. Agencies which offer value added services are growing by

15 to 20 per cent. The best staff are still in high demand but there is

less demand for the less qualified levels.’

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