The State of PR Report: Expertise Data on 40,758 Projects
Published on: 30 May 2023 | Author: Jorge Uceda
Public relations is a vital aspect of any organisation, as it helps to build a positive image, manage reputation, and promote businesses’ goals and objectives. As the business landscape evolves, the demand for public relations services has changed. This State of PR report aims to analyse the current demand and budgets for public relations services as per the data from over 40,000 projects available at Sortlist.
The first noticeable thing that the Sortlist data shows about demand for PR services that was already happening since 2019. It has remained steady after that, although it shows signs of a continued downturn in 2023.
The results when it comes to pure demend are contrasted to those of the 2021 Financial Services Marketing Executive Survey, which highlighted that 40% of companies increased their public relations spend during 2021, with only 4% decreasing it.
And that can be seen in the graph below - over the course of 2021 we can see a significant increase in all budgets. But PR as a service out-performs the overall average as the world comes out of a pandemic.
However as economic conditions worsen - we see a reversion to the mean - following almost identical path to the overall budgets of all expertises on Sortlist combined. This could be seen as a reflection of the less budget to spend on this expertise amidst the crisis.
When looking at the number of searches of PR-related services in each market and comparing them to the average number of companies in each one, we can get a better idea of which countries are most investing in this expertise.
Germany and the United States lead the way in terms of highest searches for PR services.
Interestingly, Belgium beats both: relative to its number of companies, the country has the highest searches-per-company ratio.
Furthermore, it states that, with 16 federal states and 8 urban agglomerations, Germany’s structure is highly decentralised, which could be the reason that there are no fewer than three PR trade bodies: the German Public Relations Association (DPRG), the Federal Association of German Press Offices (BdKom), and the Association of German PR Agencies (GPRA).
Also, Germany’s diversified economic landscape means that there is no natural geographic focus for the PR industry. Agencies are headquartered in large cities such as Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Munich.
The data at Sortlist also shows that PR is Germany's 5th most popular expertise.
Belgium poses as a peculiar market for PR agencies due to its multilingual nature. Some PR agencies in Belgium seem to agree.
Statista offers an optimistic view on this expertise: they project the revenue of public relations and communication activities in Belgium to amount to approximately 2,364.65 million dollars by 2025.
The data at Sortlist also shows that the average budget for a PR project in Belgium is €8,730.
To get an idea about how much PR costs in 2023, we looked at the average budgets of projects posted on Sortlist (over 10,000) and agency projects uploaded to their portfolios (3,000).
We plotted the midpoint between the budgets that agencies assign for PR projects and the budgets that businesses have for them, so as to attain a "meet-me-halfway" approach.
If you look closer at the previous graph, you will notice a sharp spike in budget at the end of 2022, a sudden change that can skew the average budget for PR projects.
This tends to happen when there are projects with a very high budget, projects like the one that German communications agency H2F worked on for the country's Ministry of Economy, Labor, and Health. It was part of a nationwide vaccination prevention campaign, targeting communication efforts to specific groups through a media mix.
Typically, the majority of PR projects on Sortlist cost anywhere between 10,000 and 40,000 euros (40th and 60th percentiles, respectively). However, H2F's work had a budget of 150,000 euros, 10 times as much as the average.
And this is why it can be useful to look at median prices to what kind of budget is most common. On the other hand, the mean (or simple average) can give us some interesting insights into the overall buoyancy (or otherwise) of a market.
When looking at the mean - the variations between markets can give us even more insight into the most common prices of projects in different markets:
The agencies at Sortlist can give us a very clear idea on the average agency size per expertise. In this case, it becomes clear that PR agencies are thriving in the USA and Saudi Arabia.
When taking a closer look at where expertises meet, and especially remembering the case of H2F, we see that most PR agencies also focus on digital strategy (90.16%), branding & positioning (86.48%), and advertising (85.04%).
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