PR agencies are thriving, reflecting the strong market conditions
in the country as a whole. Overall, income recorded in the 1998 Top 150
league table rose a steady five per cent from pounds 350,330,552 last
year to pounds 366,073,268.
This figure was achieved on just a one per cent overall growth in staff,
reflecting the view of the 1998 PR Week/ Media Appointments Salary
Survey that staff are working harder, and longer hours.
Shandwick UK retained its number one position in this year’s Top
Its fee income in 1997 was pounds 25,384,000 - a rise of five per cent
on the previous year. At number two is Bell Pottinger Communications on
pounds 23,639,000, with an impressive 13 per cent increase in fee
income. Hill and Knowlton, placed third with a 1997 fee income of pounds
18,753,000, registered a healthy percentage rise in fee income of 16 per
Overall, there were few changes in the first ten ranking of the Top 150,
with the exception of Weber PR Worldwide. The agency, which now includes
Ludgate and McCann-Erickson, climbed 50 places to claim the seventh slot
on a fee income of pounds 10,417,177. Weber PR Worldwide gained a
further accolade, emerging as the fastest growing agency over five
years. Absent from this year’s top 10 are two agencies -
Burson-Marsteller and Financial Dynamics.
The former is unable to separate its UK PR income from its European
figures following its much-publicised restructuring, while the latter
declined to enter, following a management buy-out.
Moving into the top 20, Freud Communications was one of the highest
movers, leaping from 23rd position last year to 15th position in this
year’s Top 150, on a fee income of pounds 5,504,383. Its 17 per cent
increase in fee income in part explained by its acquisition of luxury
goods PR agency Aurelia.
The Red Consultancy, which was last year’s fastest growing agency,
fulfilled expectations with a 37 per cent increase in fee income. This
ensured the agency rose from 51st to 39th place in this year’s Top
Similarly, Lexis PR, which was last year’s top performer over five
years, experienced a 14 per cent increase in fee income to claim 41st
position. Among the top 100, Kable emerged as this year’s best performer
with a mighty 110 per cent rise in fee income from pounds 380,343 to
The overall fee income for this year’s Top 150 is spread more evenly
through the various tiers. The top ten consultancies’ grip declined for
the fourth year running, with a one per cent fall - they now account for
38 per cent of fee income in the Top 150.
Agencies in the 11-20 bracket, with fee income from pounds 7 million to
pounds 4 million, increased their share of the market to 15 per cent.
Agencies in the 21-40 tier, with fee income between pounds 4 million and
pounds 2 million, also saw their grip on the market strengthen with a
rise in market share from 16.6 per cent to 17 per cent.
Sectors which are performing well include public affairs and investor
relations. Many of the top ten agencies have increased their share in
these two sectors.
This year’s worst performers were Ogilvy PR Worldwide, with a decline in
fee income of 18 per cent and Golley Slater PR with decline of six per
cent. However, agencies in this category should take comfort from those
which were in their shoes in 1996. Infopress, which experienced a 21 per
cent decline in fee income in last year’s Top 150, has now shown a eight
per cent increase in growth income, while Fleishman-Hillard, which
recorded a 11 per cent decrease in fee income in last year’s table, has
now recorded a 12 per cent increase.
1 Shandwick UK pounds 25.4 million +5%
2 Bell Pottinger Communications pounds 23.6 million +13%
3 Hill and Knowlton pounds 18.8 million +16%
4 Countrywide Porter Novelli pounds 17 million +7%
5 Dewe Rogerson pounds 13 million +8%
CRITERIA FOR ENTRY
The PR Week Top 150 ranks UK PR consultancies by calendar year fee
income, and also shows turnover, year-on-year growth, and other
We do not accept entries unless they have been approved by the company
auditor. All entries are also reviewed by chartered accountants Willott
Kingston Smith and by a PRCA recommended accountant
This includes fees (i. the amount paid by a client for a project, or for
consultants’ time ) plus mark-up on disbursements. Income relating to
non-PR activities such as advertising, direct mail, design and so on, is
This includes gross disbursements made on behalf of clients. It may also
include income from non-PR activities.
All figures exclude VAT.