The report (which features in this week’s issue) highlights the growth of some of the country’s top PR companies.
Manchester and Cheshire agencies on the list include: Citypress, Brazen, Tangerine, Scott Partnership Holdings and Peppermint PR. Brilliant work by all of these guys.
One of the interesting aspects of the report is the operating profit appendix which says that the average margin for agencies in 2011 was 17.6% (that’s a margin based on net profit as a proportion of PR income). I know that some agencies can run at a 87% margin – while at the opposite end of the spectrum there are many agencies barely breaking even despite impressive turnover. Different agencies use different accounting methods so (as PR Week acknowledges) its tricky to compare agencies on this basis.
The handful of PR companies in the Top 150 shows that Manchester actually has a lot further to go in terms of high-growth PR businesses. There are several London-based agencies that have seen (and are predicting) wildly aggressive growth and it is to these agencies that we must look for new ways of doing business.
PR league tables are always scrutinised by management teams and there is loads of debate around the validity of them. I tend to trust the PR Week rankings as a good measure of how the market is developing. It doesn’t include all the agencies that could have made the cut (only those that submitted audited accounts and actually wanted to feature) but it’s a nice snapshot.
I was really interested in one of the comments made by Matthew Freud (of huge independent agency Freud Communications) that he has banned the words ‘monthly retainer’ in his agency. His view is that it makes no sense for agencies and clients to think in such short-term alliances and instead suggests that for PR to be “muscular, strategic and well-resourced” we must place more emphasis on long-term strategies. I agree.
I’m anticipating some long overdue consolidation in the local market. There are clearly some obvious alliances in the market that would be best suited by pooling resources and sharing best practice. I long to see the day when the top ten agencies are dominated by Manchester-based practices.
Well done to all the local PR agencies that made the cut – let’s hope this clutch of agencies can help spearhead the growth of Manchester-based agencies in 2012/13 and beyond.