A Tale of Two Revenues


A funny thing happened in public relations in 2012. Global revenue growth bumped up 14.7% after several years of alternating single digit growth and double-digit losses during the Great Recession (see chart). That was the single biggest bump since 2006 when revenue growth was at 14.1%. Unfortunately, the fun stops there as revenue growth since has never been higher than 4.6% and that was in 2013. Projections from IBISWorld out to 2020 don’t show much improvement.

But the PR profession can take some solace in the fact that, as you can see, the advertising industry is in the same boat…or at least the same stream of projected flat revenue growth now and into the foreseeable future. During that banner year of 2012 – despite mostly staying ahead of the game during the previous recessionary years – advertising revenue only grew 5.9%. Since then PR and Advertising global revenue growth have mostly been in lockstep with one another with single digit growth in the high 3% to low 6% range. But the future looks even less bright for advertising with a continued downward trend that sees revenue growth potentially going as low as 2.8% by 2020.

While the amount of money that is spent on advertising will probably always exceed that spent on PR, the fact that both are now seeing relatively small but similar percentage revenue increases year-on-year indicates a degree of parity most never thought possible. It’s difficult to be certain as to how these projections will hold up. It’s doubtful anyone saw the 14.7% increase for PR happening before 2012. With the global media landscape changing and content continuing to be an important factor, the only thing certain about the future of PR and advertising revenue growth is uncertainty.

Image Source: Patrik Theander