Spending on traditional and digital (word-of-mouth marketing) public relations services in the U.S. totaled $5.7 billion in 2010, a 12.8-percent year-over-year increase.
Spending on traditional public relations services grew by 4.9 percent from 2005-10, to $3.7 billion.
Annual U.S. spending on combined public relations and word of mouth marketing services will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent between 2010 and 2015, to $10.96 billion.
Annual spending on traditional public relations services will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent, to $5.4 billion.
Annual spending on word of mouth marketing services will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 22.3 percent, to $5.6 billion (up from $2 billion in 2010).
Related: According to The Holmes Report 2011 Global Rankings, the global public relations industry grew by slightly more than 8 percent in 2010, ending the year with fee income of at least $8.8 billion and employing about 60,000 people.
In 2009, 20.9 percent of GAP VI respondents experienced budget increases, 36.6 percent saw little or no change, and 42.5 percent saw decreases.
When averaging all the responses, organizations reduced their 2009 budgets by a fairly moderate 5.3 percent.
The average change among corporate respondents was a 4.68 percent reduction.
In 2010, 28.8 percent expected budget increases over 2009, 49.7 percent expected no change, and 21.5 percent expected budget decreases.
When averaging all the responses, organizations expect to increase their budgets by just 1.56 percent.
Corporate respondents expect an increase of 1.94 percent.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 7,000 public relations firms in the United States. The public relations community is even larger when considering the public relations function within America’s corporations, government bodies, health care institutions, military branches, professional services firms, associations, nonprofit organizations, and other public and private entities.
In 2008, there were 64,000 individuals employed as public relations managers (up from 63,000 in 2007) and 135,000 employed as public relations specialists (up from 132,000 in 2007).
That same survey found that among 58 public relations agency owners, principals and CEOs polled, 30 percent of communications professionals work at firms devoted to social media rather than traditionalmedia.
The most used platform among public relations professionals and agencies is Facebook (31 percent), followed by Twitter (29 percent) and LinkedIn (18 percent).
According to the ICCO, demand for digital services rose internationally in 2010. As a percentage of overall fee income for public relations consultancies, these services remained relatively small (ranging from 5 to 20 percent) but show an increase over 2009.
In 2011, 76 percent of communicators in the United States and Canada used Twitter, nearly double the percentage from 2009, according to the Social Media Reality Check, a study by CNW and Leger Marketing.
According to the ICCO, digital, reputation management and crisis communications will have the most growth overall in 2011.
In 2010, consumer marketing communications accounted for one-third of public relations consultancy revenues in the U.K. and was a significant growth factor for the U.S.
Healthcare, corporate and crisis communications were the other main sources of revenue in the U.S. and U.K.
The same four service areas drove growth throughout Europe, aided by work in public affairs and media relations.
The energy sector represents an important source of growth for public relations consultancies in 17 surveyed countries, and health care in 11.
The financial industry is listed as a growing source of business in nine countries (including the U.S. and U.K.), though Italy, Portugal and Turkey view this as one of the industries with the worst prospects for the year.
All countries surveyed in the World Report expect conditions to be as good or better in 2011 than in 2010.
“Public relations spending is being fueled by companies seeking to improve their corporate image and harness new technologies to reach target audiences.”
“Public relations professionals would prefer they be associated with managing the company's reputation.”
“Professionals also believe that the best way to convince management to view public relations as a management function is to show a potential or actual impact on business goals and the delivery of strategic messages throughout their activities.”
According to a recent PRNews / BurrellesLuce survey, public relations professionals feel that top management view public relations as a way to get the company's name in the media.
Public relations is more than managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics. It is a communications discipline that engages and informs key audiences, builds important relationships and brings vital information back into an organization for analysis and action. It has real, measurable impact on the achievement of strategic organizational goals.
Public relations and publicity are not synonymous; publicity is a small subset and specialized discipline within public relations, often practiced by dedicated firms who may or may not possess broader strategic communications capabilities.
Public relations professionals have a special obligation to practice their craft ethically, with the highest standards of truth, accuracy, fairness and responsibility to the public. The PRSA Code of Ethics provides a practical set of standards to follow in this regard.
According to Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive officer of WPP, as reported in PRWeek, editorial publicity has “resumed its rightful place as one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, marketing medium today.”
According to Alan VanderMolen, vice chairman of the Edelman Holding Company, as reported in PRNewser, "PR has moved to the center of marketing services."
“The results reflect a consistently healthy degree of management support for public relations that can be leveraged to expand budgets and staff. The authors believe that the status of public relations practitioners in their organizations as serious contributors and counselors to senior management is stable and strong. This and other key indicators of professional good health (i.e., budget and staff growth) suggest to us that the public relations industry is better positioned to weather an economic downturn than it has been in the past.”
“Even among smaller organizations, public relations practitioners are more and more involved in the important strategy meetings at which the key decisions and direction of their organizations are planned and analyzed.”
“The conviction of respondents that CEOs value the contributions of public relations is now undeniable and signifies a much improved self-image and degree of confidence within the profession over previous surveys.”
“Companies, government, institutions and nonprofits dedicate substantial portions of budgets to public relations activities, either directly or indirectly, even though public relations often does not show up as a “line item” in budgets.”
“Even if we focused only on ‘media relations,’ the evolution of the media we are seeing today ensures a greater influence — and even greater responsibilities — for the public relations professional and has expanded the scope of the public relations function.”The rules of engagement are changing and consumers are relying more on the opinions of “people like themselves” rather than the more traditional and hierarchical sources of information and authority (such as media, government, corporation and industry experts). We live in a world where technology and other social forces have empowered the consumer to act as citizen marketer, activist and self-publishing journalist.
Public relations has served immeasurable public good. It has changed attitudes and behaviors toward some of the world’s most pressing social issues, from breast cancer awareness to drinking and driving to smoking and obesity. The public relations industry also has prevented consumer injury and illness, raised awareness of products that have improved our quality of life, advanced worthwhile causes and provided pro-bono services for institutions that needed public relations assistance but could not afford it.
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