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PR industry grows slightly in 2018, but rate still down from 2015

by | Jul 24, 2019 | Public Relations

The U.S. PR industry grew by just 4.8 percent last year, according to a survey report released by Gould+Partners, the merger and management advisory firm specializing in the PR field. While reflecting positive growth, the figure is still significantly down from 6.6 percent in 2015, and 7.8 percent in 2014.

The results of this survey were not consistent with the results of the annual Best Practices Benchmarking report released in June, showing that Operating Profit decreased from 18.0 percent to 16.3 percent.

PR industry grows slightly in 2018, but rate still down from 2015

Based on stats from 248 North American PR agencies. The $10M-$25M group had the most consistent growth rate at 8.6 percent. The firms in excess of $25M were up to 4.2 percent from 1.0 percent last year.

“To me, the most interesting takeaway is that the larger firms, over $25 million in net revenues,

are not growing,” said Rick Gould, CPA, J.D., managing partner of the PR-focused M&A advisory firm. “If we take away growth via acquisition it would be less than 1 percent net decrease.”

PR industry grows slightly in 2018, but rate still down from 2015

“Independent firms are trying hard to grow to the next plateau—under $3 million to $10 million, then over 10 million to $25 million, then over $25 million,” added Gould. “At that point, the larger independent firms are competing for acquisitions with holding companies, private equity firms, accounting firms, major ad and digital firms. This is causing a flattening of the growth for the larger firms.”

The second part of the study focused on industry growth in the 10 regions of our focus and average net revenues for each of the regions.

Growth for each of the ten regions in 2018 was not consistent with prior years. The leading growth region in the U.S. was D.C., Southeast, Northern California and Canada all had growth in excess of 20 percent.

PR industry grows slightly in 2018, but rate still down from 2015

The survey is the seventh annual poll focused on Net Revenue Growth by Gould+Partners, which has been conducting other industry wide surveys for 25+ years, including the recently released Best Practices Benchmarking Report and the Billing/Utilization Report.

Download the full report here.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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