Influence 100: Budgets, duties and attitudes of the world’s top 100 comms clients
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
President/Editor-in-Chief

Influence 100: Budgets, duties and attitudes of the world’s top 100 comms clients

40 percent of the world’s top 100 comms clients control a PR budget worth more than $50 million.

Arun Sudhaman

NEW YORK--40 percent of the world’s top 100 comms clients control a PR budget worth more than $50 million.

The finding is one of many revealed by the Holmes Report’s in-depth research of the Influence 100, the 100 most important in-house communicators in the world.

According to a survey of the 100 executives, a further 20 percent spend between $25 and $50 million on PR. However, 20 percent spend less than $5m.

The findings of the study are summarised in the infographic below, and are presented in greater depth on the Influence 100 microsite, along with interviews and profiles of the select group of 100 comms clients.

Social media & agency oversight

The research also reveals that in 60 percent of the organizations responding to the survey, PR has primary responsibility for social media, while in 20 percent responsibility is shared between several departments, including PR. The remainder have social media led by marketing (eight percent), customer service or IT (four percent each) or elsewhere (four percent).

All respondents to our survey have responsibility for hiring and firing PR agencies, but most are also a primary decision-maker on other significant spending, including digital and social media firms (79 percent), event management companies (50 percent), sponsorships (46 percent) and to a lesser extent advertising agencies (25 percent).

Only four percent of respondents say they work with a single global public relations agency of record in all markets around the world, although another 36 percent do have a global AOR, but supplement its work with other firms. Eight percent of respondents have separate AOR relationships in each region; 12 percent select AORs on a market-by-market basis, and 36 percent say they select PR firms on a project-by-project basis.

Attitudes

When asked which company (other than their own) managed its reputation most effectively, there were multiple votes for Apple, GE and IBM (five each), McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart (three votes each) and for organizations as diverse as Disney, FedEx, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks and UNICEF. When asked which company managed its brands most effectively, Apple was the top choice, followed by Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

When it came to individuals, most respondents chose figures from the world of politics rather than corporate CEOs as the most effective communicators. Barack Obama was the leader with seven votes, while former US President Bill Clinton (four votes) was second. Among business leaders, there were multiple mentions for Steve Jobs and Warren Buffet (three votes each), Bill Gates, Alan Mulally of Ford and Jack Welch (two votes each).

Asked which public relations agency they most respected, Edelman received five votes, followed by Burson - Marsteller, Waggener Edstrom and Weber Shandwick, with three votes which. Other agencies garnering votes included Apco, Fleishman-Hillard, Frank PR, Hill & Knowlton, Ketchum, Ogilvy PR, Peppercom and 463 Communications.

The favorite newspaper choices were mostly obvious: The New York Times (10 votes), The Wall Street Journal (seven) and the Financial Times (five) — although there were also multiple mentions on The International Herald Tribune and The Guardian. Similarly, The Economist was the most frequently cited magazine (11 votes), with the rest of the field split between prominent business titles such as Business Week, Forbes and Fortune, and slightly less obvious choices including Wired, The New Yorker, and Sports Illustrated.

Asked about favorite books, the most popular choice was this year’s Too Big To Fail, Andrew Ross Sorkin’s account of the global financial crisis, but there were some perennial business favorites on the list too, from Why Should Anyone Be Led By You to The Fortune At The Bottom Of The Pyramid to Good To Great to What They Didn’t Teach You At Harvard Business School. Others went for Machiavelli’s The Prince and Shakespeare’s Henry V.

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