The global Public Relations industry witnessed a 7 percent decline in its growth level in 2016.
This is coming on the heels of the confirmation from major holding groups that the marketing communications industry is in the grip of its worst year since the global financial crisis took hold almost a decade ago.
A dismal set of Q3 results from the major holding groups shows that for the most part during the period, PR and public affairs firms lagged behind their peers in other disciplines, including media investment, advertising, digital CRM and branding, helping to drag overall PR industry growth down to 7% last year.
There are, of course, honorable exceptions — notably Interpublic PR agencies led by Weber Shandwick and WPP’s Cohn & Wolfe. But the broader narrative continues to pose a singular concern: Why are publicly-held PR firms finding growth so difficult?
IPG CEO Michael Roth made the stunning admission that “PR was one of the primary drivers of weakness” at his CMG unit, blaming cutbacks in discretionary short-term client spend, particularly in terms of government and healthcare projects.
Meanwhile, Omnicom CEO, John Wren, continued to troll his PR agency chiefs, following up on his earlier remark that more hunters were needed to replace farmers.
Wren’s latest pronouncement let us know that at least one of his PR firms still requires regime change (sources indicate a reference to Cone, which has eliminated its CEO role after merging with Porter Novelli). If not a vote of confidence, the comments at least appeared to place most of the blame on personnel rather than fundamental structural issues.
The Holmes Report