NEW YORK —  PR agency profitability was flat in 2016,  according to PR professionals responding to the annual benchmarking survey conducted by Gould+Partners. The survey— which included 101 agencies based in the US and Canada — reported an average profit of 15.2% in 2016. That's compared to 15.3% in 2015, 16.2% in 2014 and 15.6% in 2013. The survey also found that revenue per staff was $211,995 — down slightly from $212,796 in 2015. 

URBANA, IL — The University of Illinois has announced the launch of its new online Master of Science in Strategic Brand Communication, which is a joint program between the Urbana campus College of Business and College of Media. It aims to give students a deeper knowledge on how to strategically lead global brand communications across advertising, media and marketing channels to drive revenue growth. The curriculum combines contemporary business management education with the latest in strategic integrated marketing, advertising, and multimedia communications and will be available this fall. 

SAN FRANCISCO — Brooklyn-based PR firm Ditto has opened a West Coast office and has appointed Blain Rethmeier to run its operations. The expansion aims to expand the firm's consumer, technology, non-profit, education and financial services sectors. Additionally, the firm has added two new offerings — crisis communications and "Inside the Beltway" communications for Bay Area companies and startups seeking a voice in the political, policy and regulatory conversation unfolding in DC.

NEW YORK — Design Collective NY– an organizer of large scale events to promote fashion and related brands to buyers, the press and the public — is expanding its services to include communications and marketing for creative brands in the fashion, beauty and consumer products.