NEW YORK--Interpublic Group (IPG) has provided the PR market with a welcome filip after disappointing results elsewhere, posting a 5.9 percent rise in PR revenue in the third quarter of 2012.
Earlier, both Omnicom and WPP reported third-quarter declines in PR earnings, with the latter group blaming weakness in North America and forecasting a continued slowdown in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Harris Diamond, CEO of IPG's CMG division, which houses its PR firms, pointed to continued strong performance from Weber Shandwick, GolinHarris and DeVries, which together helped deliver high single-digit PR growth in the US.
"We had very strong growth in the US," said Diamond. "The only place where I didn’t see that is in our public affairs businesses in DC, which you expect in a presidential year."
Overall, though, IPG reported a 0.9 percent revenue decline, even as its CMG division rose by 14 percent on a like-for-like basis.
The group's PR operations have now outperformed the market for several quarters, although PR growth has slowed this year. Diamond noted that consumer PR continues to be a key growth driver, alongside increased penetration of existing clients.
"There’s a recognition that in the marketing services business, clients are actually looking at ways by which they extend their reach, in a much more significant way than 10 to 15 years ago when I got into the business," said Diamond.
Diamond also noted that the outcome of the presidential election may not automatically improve public affairs revenues in DC, given the political gridlock that has existed for the past two years.
"What generally generates good business, but not necessarily good politics, is when you have an activist President and activist Congress," said Diamond. "It’s when it’s at a deadlock when most corporations and NGOs pull back from spending."