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For 21 years now, I have been producing Report Cards on the public relations agency business.
The first appeared under the auspices of a magazine called Relate, published as a joint venture between my company and Adweek, and profiled the 30 largest public relations firms in the US. It was surprisingly controversial: several of those firms declined to cooperate, and then several of them (along with one or two that had cooperated) complained noisily about the outcome.
That, more than anything, convinced me that the project had merit, and over the next 10 years, the US Agency Report Card—as part, first, of Inside PR and later, Reputation Management magazine—expanded steadily to include profiles of more than 100 of the top firms in the world’s largest PR market, providing a qualitative assessment of their business performance, management, talent, culture and work.
Since the launch of The Holmes Report in 2000, the Report Card concept has been exported, first to Europe, the Middle East and Africa and later to the Asia-Pacific region, while the US report was expanded to include a handful of leading Canadian firms. Last year, between the three publications, my partner Arun Sudhaman and I produced profiles of close to 400 of the world’s biggest and best PR consulting firms.
This year marks a further expansion. For the first time, the North American Report Card has been expanded to cover the entire Americas region. This magazine contains profiles of about 20 firms operating in Latin American markets, including both multinationals and indigenous agencies.
The result is that The Holmes Report’s PR Agency Report Cards are now truly global. The objective is to provide clients, prospects, employees, other agencies, and anyone interested in the public relations business with a comprehensive profile of every significant market anywhere in the PR world, to help corporate communicators find the best firms to help them develop their strategies and deliver their messages; to help PR professionals to find the most attractive employers; and to help agency leaders find partner firms or acquisition targets.
It is an exhausting, yearlong process, that includes more than 150 face-to-face interviews with the agencies themselves; qualitative and quantitative research among both clients and employees; and a constant monitoring of the trends and issues impacting the public relations business.
It’s also a great deal of fun.
Paul A. Holmes, Editor-in-Chief
Download a PDF version of the 2011 North American Report Card.