BlueFocus PR Division Revenues Rise To $271m In 2013
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BlueFocus PR Division Revenues Rise To $271m In 2013

China's BlueFocus has reported PR revenues of $271m in 2013, after reorganizing its PR and digital operations under the BlueDigital brand.

Arun Sudhaman

BEIJING—China's BlueFocus has reported revenues of $271m for its BlueDigital unit in 2013, after growing its overall topline by nearly 65%.

See also: Our exclusive interview with BlueFocus CEO Oscar Zhao, breaking down the eye-catching growth at his agency.

On Monday, the group reported total revenues of RMB3.6bn (US$592m). Around a third of that, said BlueFocus America president Helen Fu Thomas, can be attributed to PR revenues, which are now grouped with digital under the BlueDigital brand.

The eye-catching increase in PR revenue reflects both the reorganization of the group's earned media businesses, and the hectic pace of acquisition. On a like-for-like basis, BlueDigital's revenues grew by 78% over 2012.

Looking specifically at the group's 'pure' PR revenue, excluding digital income, BlueFocus reported $123m, compared to $88m in 2012.

Since listing on the Shenzhen stock market in 2010, BlueFocus has moved to acquire various businesses around the world including, most notably, We Are Social and almost 20% of Huntsworth Group, although neither of these investments are reflected in the 2013 results.

Other acquisitions in recent years have included Hong Kong's DT Communications, Singapore firm Financial PR and Chinese media agency Bojie Media. Last month, the Chinese group took on full ownership of Hong Kong's Metta Communications.

According to the World PR Report, BlueFocus' 2012 PR revenue of $87.8m made it one of the world's 20 largest PR firms. The new figure is likely to see it enter the top 10, when the 2014 World PR Report is released later this year.

“We are committed to greater digitalization and globalization over our next 10 years of growth," said BlueFocus chairman and CEO Oscar Zhao, noting the group's goal of achieving 10 times revenue growth within 10 years.

The group's net profit increased by 86% to $72m in 2013. Once focused primarily on the tech sector, new clients came from a wide range of industries, including Proctor & Gamble, Volvo, Nissan, Amazon and China Fortune Land Development.

The group also noted that it plans to continue building out its digital marketing capabilities, particularly in such areas as "big data, mobile internet, e-commerce and online video."

The goals echo Zhao's comments at a Holmes Report conference in Beijing last year, when he said that PR would be marginalized if it did not rise to the digital challenge. 

“In China, we are seeing clients using a lot of smaller, purely digital public relations firms rather than the giant international agencies, because they already think the giant players are lagging behind,” said Zhao at the time. “We have to become fully digital if we are to compete.”

In terms of geographic growth, BlueFocus will emphasise expansion in Europe and North America, looking for companies with technical expertise, big data and search engine optimization as potential M&A targets. Other companies of interest, it noted, include "marketing companies with expertise in social networking platforms and precision marketing and those with outstanding creative ability."

See also: Our exclusive interview with BlueFocus CEO Oscar Zhao, breaking down the eye-catching growth at his agency.

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