PR Budgets Up 21 Percent in 2002, Survey Says
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PR Budgets Up 21 Percent in 2002, Survey Says

Corporate public relations budgets have increased by around 21 percent this year after two years of declines, according to the results of the tenth annual Thomas L. Hams/Impulse Research Public Relations Client Survey.

Paul Holmes

HIGHLAND PARK—Corporate public relations budgets have increased by around 21 percent this year after two years of declines, according to the results of the tenth annual Thomas L. Hams/Impulse Research Public Relations Client Survey. The average budget of the 1,540 clients surveyed increased from $2.25 million in 2001 to $2.7 million in 2002.

Internal budgets (exclusive of salaries and overhead) averaged $1.199 million, a gain of 24 percent over $963,000 reported in last year’s survey. External budgets spent with PR firms increased 19 percent from $1,287,000 last year to $1,533,000 million. That’s about the same amount that firms were budgeting for external public relations services two years ago.

Industries reporting the largest average public relations budgets were telecommunications ($8.04 million), chemicals and plastics ($5.55 million), retailing ($3.96 million), energy ($3.68 million), and sports and entertainment ($3.52 million). Industries reporting the lowest PR budgets were education ($0.46 million) hospitality and travel ($0.63 million), e-commerce ($0.69 million) information technology ($0.72 million), and professional services ($0.82 million).

Corporate media relations continues to be the largest single public relations budget item (22 percent of total PR budget) followed by product media relations (19 percent), but both declined 4 percent in 2002

The survey also asked clients to evaluate their PR firm’s performance on 26 dimensions. Highest ratings were given to accessibility of my account team (88 percent), chemistry (79 percent), client service (79 percent), overall quality of work (77 percent), and quality of management (75 percent). Lowest evaluations were for Internet capabilities (33 percent), fair and equitable compensation (38 percent), international capabilities (41 percent), and measurement of results (45 percent).

As in the past, the survey sought to identify the importance of each criterion. The top five are chemistry (79 percent), client service (79 percent), overall quality of their work and quality of my account team (both 77 percent), and quality of management (75 percent).

The survey also asked clients to rate the overall performance of their PR firms in 2002 compared to 2001. Client ratings of their agency’s performance improved in 2002 with 5 percent more clients rating them “outstanding” or “very good.” Most clients remain committed to their PR firms; 61 percent said they were very committed to their firm, an improvement of 13  percent over last year; 88 percent reported being very committed or somewhat committed to their PR firm.

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