More than 80 percent of U.S. public relations firms responding to a Council of PR Firms survey reported that their final 2010 revenues had exceeded 2009 numbers, higher than the roughly 70 percent in the Council’s October survey who had expected a year-over-year increase. Ttwo-thirds (67 percent) of firms reported double-digit revenue growth in 2010. And six in ten firms (58.2 percent) expected PR budgets to be higher in 2011, while only two percent expected them to decline in size.
According to Council chair, Weber Shandwick’s president Andy Polansky, “We’re enthusiastic about the market dynamics right now. Our industry continues to transform itself to better partner and engage with clients across the full spectrum of marketing and corporate communications services, and we are seeing more and more that PR is leading the charge for these efforts. This is particularly true in the digital and social media space. The survey results reflect renewed optimism and the opportunity for continued growth.”
New business pipelines seem to be opening wider. More than half (56.4 percent) of firms reported that new business prospects were stronger than a year ago, with the vast majority firms (76.4 percent) citing social media as one of the strongest expected growth areas. Other areas where firms were expecting the most new business growth included consumer marketing (listed by 58.2 percent of firms), issues and crisis management (30.9 percent), and corporate communication (27.3 percent).
Despite all the buzz surrounding CSR and sustainability initiatives, fewer than 20 percent of firms perceived this area as a leading source of growth in 2011.
More business coming in is translating into an improving hiring environment and more career opportunity for people in our profession. Almost two thirds of firms (63.6 percent) anticipated increasing hiring in the first quarter as compared with the same period in 2010; just 4 percent of firms predicted they’d hire fewer workers. The bulk of these new jobs were mid-level, with 67.3 percent firms stating that they’re currently hiring for people in the account executive to account supervisor range, and 41.8 percent of firms reporting they’re hiring at the vice president or senior vice president levels.
All this comes on top of increased hiring in 2010 (60 percent of firms reported higher headcounts at the end of 2010 as compared with the previous year).
Fifty-five firms responded to the survey (49.1 percent of them had revenues between $3 million and $10 million, and 27.3 percent had revenues between $10 million and $50 million).