By Arun Sudhaman

LONDON: WPP Group, which owns PR agencies Hill & Knowlton, Burson-Marsteller and Ogilvy PR, has reported like-for-like revenue growth of 3.7 percent in its PR and public affairs operations in 2010.

The results mean that PR was the slowest-growing of WPP’s four service groups, behind advertising and media (+7.1 percent), branding, healthcare and specialist comms (+4.5 percent), and consumer insight (+3.9 percent).

In a statement, the holding company noted that PR operations performed particularly well in the 4Q of 2010, growing by 5.6 percent. For the year as a whole, WPP pointed to “good performances” in the US by Burson-Marsteller Group, Dewey Square, BWR, Robinson Lerer & Montgomery and Public Strategies; and in Germany by Hering Schuppener.

PR and public affairs revenues accounted for nine percent of WPP’s earnings in 2010. In 2009, PR and PA revenues declined by 7.4 percent.

Overall, group revenues were up by 5.6 percent to £9.331 billion. “The recovery from the dark days of 13/14 September 2008 has been remarkable.”

Last year, WPP merged Public Strategies – one of its stronger performing public affairs agencies – with Hill & Knowlton in a bid to kickstart North American growth. That integration eventually resulted in the departure of Hill & Knowlton global CEO Paul Taaffe earlier this year.