NEW YORK: Porter Novelli International has overtaken Shandwick in
the 1998 US PR league table published last week by O’Dwyer’s.
Burson-Marsteller topped the table for the second year running, with an
annual fee income of over pounds 161 million, up four per cent on last
According to O’Dwyer’s directory of PR firms, Porter Novelli’s US fee
income grew by more than 23 per cent from 1997 to 1998. Shandwick
registered a seven per cent fee rise in 1998.
Shandwick slipped from second position in the 1997 table to fourth in
1998 after a year which saw US firm Interpublic buy out the agency, and
a decision to relocate its headquarters from London to New York
Shandwick’s slip down the table was accentuated by the presence of Hill
and Knowlton, which did not enter last year.
Last week also saw the publication of the Council of PR Firm’s industry
rankings, similarly topped by B-M. The council included advertising
commission and research within fee income, as opposed to O’Dwyer’s
which, like PR Week’s annual UK Top 150 rankings, excluded them.
Every top 50 firm in O’Dwyer’s table, except for Rowland PR Worldwide,
billed increased fees last year. The total billed by the firms rose
pounds 343 million to pounds 1.41 billion, although only 35 agencies
reported double-digit growth, compared to 39 last year.
BSMG Worldwide, which recently acquired financial PR agency Financial
Relations Board, was the fastest growing top 20 US agency, registering a
93 per cent year-on-year increase in fees. Edelman PR Worldwide is the
only top ten ranking agency to remain independently owned.
O’Dwyer’s top ten agencies
Firm Net fees Staff % change
(dollars US) from ’97
1. Burson Marsteller 258,417 1,765 +4.2
2. Hill and Knowlton 206,000 1,570 +8.9
3. Porter Novelli Int 183,050 1,822 +23.6
4. Shandwick 170,300 1,731 +7.3
5. Fleishman-Hillard 160,692 1,231 +19.1
6. Edelman PR Worldwide 157,841 1,636 +18.1
7. Ketchum 125,248 1,032 +29.6
8. BSMG Worldwide 118,963 913 +93
9. Weber PR Worldwide 83,166 648 +36.2
10. GCI/APCO 79,667 763 +28.4