“The Directory is an excellent textbook for PR students as well as those thinking of a PR career,” said publisher Jack O’Dwyer.
More than 500 PR firms provide extensive descriptions of their increasingly varied services, he noted. “Such descriptions are far preferable to the outmoded definitions and descriptions of PR that are in most textbooks,” he said.
Almost all of what is known as “PR” is now in the agencies, meaning creativity and press contact, and the textbooks do not acknowledge that development, he said. Corporate PR, long called “corporate communications,” mostly means communications to employees, executives, the local community, retirees, suppliers, handling corporate ads via an ad agency, and supervising corporate gifts, he said.
NYT Described Shift of PR to Agencies
The shift of PR from institutions to PR firms was described 25 years ago in a nearly full-page, 1,823-word article in the May 31, 1987 Sunday New York Times by financial reporter Claudia Deutsch (http://tinyurl.com/7ygqjzn).
Headlined “The Haves—and Have Nots—in Public Relations,” it described the increase in fees handled by PR firms (“The Haves”) and the gutting of many corporate PR depts. (“the Have Nots”).
All of the data on PR firms came from the O’Dwyer Co. as did most of the facts about corporate PR units being downsized. Deutsch, acknowledging the source of much of her information, started her article with these words: “ITEM: Jack O’Dwyer’s Newsletter, the bible of the PR profession, lists huge increases at PR agencies this year.”
She then described the carnage going on in corporate PR depts. including RCA, which fired almost all its PR staff after being acquired by General Electric; Monsanto, which off-loaded its entire PR dept. to Hill & Knowlton; W.R. Grace, which cut its PR staff from 34 to 13; ITT, which fired 20 PR pros in 1986; American Standard, which dissolved its four-person PR staff, and Olin Corp., which let two top PR execs go, Robert Kelly and Richard Francis. The O’Dwyer NL had covered many of these same stories.
The NYT article reprinted the top ten PR firms from the O’Dwyer Directory. H&K was No. 1 with $100.2M in fees and 1,800 employees; Burson-Marsteller No. 2 with 1,875 employees (fees were not provided); Ogilvy PR No. 3 with $31M in fees and 640 employees; Manning, Selvage & Lee No. 4 with $21.7M in fees and 334 employees; Edelman No. 5 with $20.9M in fees and 336 employees; Doremus Porter Novelli No. 6 at $20.8M; Fleishman-Hillard No. 7 with $18.4M; Ketchum No. 8 at $17.8M; Golin/Harris No. 9 with $17.4, and Ruder Finn, No. 10 with 260 employees.