This year's rankings will feature the top firms by net fee income in newly-added charts for auto/transportation, education, energy, industrial, non-profits, purpose/CSR and real estate finance & development.
Prospects seeking outside PR counsel will now be able to research PR firms in 19 total specialties, including the existing agriculture, beauty/fashion/lifestyle, entertainment, environmental / sustainability / greentech / public affairs, financial & investor relations, food & beverage, healthcare, home furnishings, professional services, sports, technology and travel & economic development practices.
"We added the new specialties to help participating firms better segment their expertise to the many prospects that regularly comb our rankings in search of PR help," publisher John O'Dwyer said.
Healthcare (75), technology (74) and professional services (55) are the practices with the most firms.
Rankings are also tabulated by 15 cities and regions. New York (45), San Franciso (18) and Chicago (15) are the top 3 cities. Regional rankings showcase firms in the west (38), southeast (25) and midwest (25).
A total of 133 firms took part in last year's rankings.
Top page of the latest corporate income tax return and W-3 is required. PR firms have distinctive financials -- at least half of income is used for staff pay. The rankings measure counseling and media contact services, not advertising or production expenses.
"Even if the tax return is on a cash basis and financials on accrual, we like to see the return as an added check that a CPA has been used," O'Dwyer stressed.
Net fee income by location and specialties should have been accumulated all year, by month and presented to a CPA.
"The CPA firm should have minimal work to do, just a topside review. Our ranking instructions disclaim responsibility for the numbers by the CPA firm," O'Dwyer said.
Third-party endorsement is one of the bedrock principles of PR. O’Dwyer's has been conducting its rankings for 49 years.