- Independent firms grow by 10.4 percent
- Publicly-held agencies up approximately 6 percent
- At least 66,000 people employed by PR agencies worldwide
NEW YORK—The global public relations industry grew by just under 8 percent in 2011, enough to end the year as a $10 billion global business, according to research conducted by The Holmes Report. The results form part of the Holmes Report’s 2012 Global Rankings report, which also ranks the 250 biggest PR firms in the world.
Industry growth of 7.9 percent in 2011 was remarkably similar to 2010, when the industry rebounded from the recession to grow by just over 8 percent.
Small, midsize and independent firms once again outperformed the large multinational agencies. Such firms submitting numbers for both 2010 and 2011 saw their fee income increase by an average of 10.4 percent, reporting combined fees of $4.5 billion (up from $3.75 billion in 2010).
Growth was quite a bit slower at the publicly traded holding companies that did not provide revenue numbers to our report (WPP Group, Interpublic, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, and Havas). Those businesses, which between them own eight of 10 largest public relations firms in the world, reported PR revenues of around $4.4 billion, with average growth of just less than 6 percent.
In addition, the networks of independent public relations firms submitting numbers report combined revenues of around $1 billion. While much of that revenue is included in the rankings as a result of member firms reporting separately, at least $450 million in revenue comes from member firms that elected not to submit to our rankings.
Adding together independent firms, holding companies and network income, The Holmes Report has identified a little more than $9.4 billion in worldwide public relations fee income.
“Given that there are literally thousands of smaller public relations listed in other rankings and directories and participating in trade associations around the world, we are confident that the public relations agency business is today at least a $10 billion business,” says Paul Holmes, editor-in-chief of The Holmes Report. “It is clear from this research that PR is a significant global business, and that it is growing faster than the world economy as a whole.”
Firms that provided both revenue and headcount information generated an average of $151,139 in fee income per capita, up from $148,795 last year (an increase of 2 percent), the industry almost certainly employs more than 66,000 people worldwide—up from our estimate of around 59,000 people last year.