Publicis, the first of the big ad/PR conglomerates to report final 2011 earnings, said today Q4 revenue climbed nearly nine percent to 1.7B euro, including a 12% jump in North America to 764M euro.

For the full year, revenue at the French ad/PR combine was up 7.3% (5.7% organically) to 5.8B euro ($7.7B, while net income was up 14% to 600M euro.

CEO Maurice Levy said 2012 will be plagued by uncertainty, but expressed confidence in the company’s operations. Publicis has renewed a freeze on recruitment to keep a rein on personnel expenses, he noted. “Though we remain very cautious all along, our situation enables us to stride confidently toward the future and particularly 2012,” he said.

Acquisitions and hiring pushed Publicis’ headcount up to 53,807 at the end of 2011, compared with 48,531 a year earlier. The conglomerate shelled out 599M euro for acquisitions during 2011 and 87M euro for earn-outs. PR grabs in 2011 included ICL MSL Taiwan, Genedigi (China) and Schwartz Communications.

Big wins for Publicis’ PR division, MSLGroup, in 2011 included AQMD-Incremental and (U.S.) Insinkerator (China); Star TV (India); Bosch (Germany), and Securite Routiere (France), among others.

The conglom lost GM's media buying account in January, a large piece of business that will hit 0.5% of its revenue over the year.