Growth has returned to PR agencies, but others are encroaching on their
territory, according to two new surveys.
The UK’s PR agency sector returned to growth in 1995, according to the
PRCA inter-firm comparison. But a similar survey from the Management
Consultancies Association reveals a dramatic increase in the amount of
marketing and corporate communication work handled by its members.
The PRCA survey tracks the performance of a cross-section of its 175
members, which represent around 80 per cent of the fee income for the UK
The average profit margin before tax among the 63 firms taking part in
this year’s PRCA survey was up by 11.7 per cent to ten per cent. Annual
retainers increased by 12.9 per cent to pounds 70.6 million, or 79.7 per
cent of total fee income.
Meanwhile the MCA has also released its figures for members. Their total
annual UK fee income rose to pounds 968 million in 1995. MCA members are
reckoned to account for around 50 per cent of all management consultancy
fees in the UK.
Significantly, some of the most dramatic growth for management
consultancies was in ‘marketing and corporate communication’ - up 50 per
cent to pounds 28 million.
PRCA spokesman Crispin Manners, of The Argyll Consultancies, described
the PRCA findings as ‘upbeat’.
‘It demonstrates that clients are using PR more to plan long-term
communications strategies and that PR companies are investing in the
future through increased training,’ he said. ‘It also shows our members
are running their businesses more efficiently as the industry matures’.
And he played down the threat from management consultancies.
‘Management consultants are not people we see on a regular basis in
competitive situations,’ he said. ‘But any organisation capable of
motivating its people adequately to deliver a consistent PR service is
one we need to take seriously.’