The U.S. PR industry grew by 4.8 percent last year, according to a survey released by New York-based merger and acquisition consultancy Gould+Partners.
The Gould+Partners’ poll, which focused on agency net revenue growth, suggests that the PR industry is still growing, albeit not at a very fast pace. The findings were consistent with the agency’s iteration of the same report last year, where growth was also 4.8 percent, revealing a downturn from 2015’s 6.6 percent and 2014’s 7.8 percent.
When broken out to account for agencies by size, the survey found that growth was particularly abysmal at larger firms, where PR agencies in excess of $25 million were essentially flat last year, gaining only one percent and illustrating a continuing downward trend that has been affecting these agencies for some time (as compared to 2016’s 4.8 percent, 2015’s six percent, 2014’s 6.9 percent and 2013's 11.4 percent).
PR agencies boasting between $10 million and $25 million in revenue reported the highest growth rate last year, 6.5 percent, though still revealing a continuing dip from 2016’s growth of 8.1 percent and 2015’s 7.8 percent.
Firms accounting for between $3 million and $10 million revealed growth of 6.1 percent.
The survey also found that firms located in Northern CA lead as the fastest growing region in 2017, at 10 percent, followed by the D.C. metro area at 9.2 percent, then the Southeast and Southwest regions (both 8.3 percent). The Northeast, Midwest and Canada were all at two percent, followed by the Northwest, at 1.2 percent. The New York Metro and Southern CA were at the bottom of the list this time, exhibiting virtually zero growth (0.2 percent).
The survey’s findings arrive on the heels of Gould+Partners’ Best Practices Benchmarking report released in June, which found that the average profitability of U.S. PR agencies in 2017 was 18 percent of their net revenues, up from the 15.2 percent reported in 2017.
Gould+Partners’ annual Net Revenue Growth report was based on data provided by nearly 240 North American PR agencies.