THE TOP 150 UK PR CONSULTANCIES 1998: OVERVIEW - Growing up. Public affairs and investor relations proved lucrative for most top 10 agencies, but the levels of growth recorded in last year’s Top 150 survey have steadied

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.

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

pounds 797,755.

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%


The PR Week Top 150 ranks UK PR consultancies by calendar year fee

income, and also shows turnover, year-on-year growth, and other

performance figures.

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

not included.


This includes gross disbursements made on behalf of clients. It may also

include income from non-PR activities.


All figures exclude VAT.

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