ICCO launches World PR Report 2018-2019: “Our time in the sun is now -and in the years to come”

The ICCO World PR Report 2018-2019 released today reveals agency heads in every region of the world predict increased profitability this year compared with last year.

The World PR Report 2018-2019 was launched by International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) Chief Executive Francis Ingham on Tuesday 27th November at a combined ICCO-PRCA Southeast Asia-AMEC conference in Singapore at 12:00 SGT (04:00 GMT); and then at events across the world.

For the past five years, the ICCO World PR Report has surveyed agency heads to take the temperature of the global PR industry, and to identify areas of growth; expectations for investment; and future challenges. The findings are reported both as global trends, but also region-specific results. The Report also includes the Holmes Top 250 Agency Rankings.

Key findings include:
On a scale of 1-10, the global average for optimism is 7.7, on a par with last year (7.8). The most optimistic markets are Africa (7.9) and Asia (7.8). The least are the Middle East (6.6) and Eastern Europe (6.6).

When asked about expectations of profitability, the global average is 6.9, compared to 6.4 last year. Asia came in highest with a score of 7.7, followed by Western Europe at 7.2. Africa came in lowest at 6.1.

Corporate reputation is cited by agency heads as a function set to grow over the next twelve months. 44% also predict growth in digital/online communications; with 39% citing social responsibility as an area of growth.

Social media community management tops the list of areas that should expect increased investment over the next few years, at 43%. This is followed by multimedia content creation (41%), and digital build and production (35%).

On the subject of measurement, the Report reveals that 48% of global respondents do not ever use AVEs, up from 44% in 2017. The main global reason given for the continued minority’s use of AVEs is that it is expected by clients (26%). The existence of AVEs is highest in the Middle East, where only 15% report that they do not ever use them.

The biggest challenges identified were clients not committing sufficient funds (38%) and clients being too short-term focused (34%). Retaining key staff is the top talent specific challenge (61%).

Francis Ingham, Chief Executive, ICCO, said: “In every region of the world, agencies expect to be more profitable this year than last. And given the uncertain times in which we work, that speaks volumes. CEOs continue to increase financial investment in their corporate reputation, while investor activism and social media transparency have intensified the focus on delivering not just good numbers, but doing so with integrity. These trends have helped fuel a demand for senior counsel.

“Clients not committing sufficient funds relates clearly to our inability to still fully prove our value. And that in turn relates to our under-investment in evaluation. But we should also acknowledge progress here. In every region of the world, those saying AVEs are their preferred method of evaluation has fallen. Evaluation becomes more sophisticated with each passing year. While there is more work to be done, much progress has been made.

“All around the world, PR is growing in size and in influence. Our time in the sun is now -and in the years to come.”
Barry Leggetter, CEO, AMEC, added: “Every year the ICCO World PR Report gives us more encouragement that the global education programme to show PR professionals the business benefits of using evaluation is working. AMEC will continue to partner with ICCO and PRCA to persuade the PR industry to invest more in evaluation, because only then will PR firms be able to fully prove their value to clients.”

Sarah Hall, Founder and Editor, #FuturePRoof, commented: “It’s encouraging to see that public relations is booming in every market around the world. Organisations recognise our value in engaging with stakeholders to build trust and reputation, and help organisations tell their story through content.

“ICCO’s analysis shows that agencies have firmly got to grips with the paid, earned, shared and owned media model. Earned and owned media typically lead with paid and shared used to drive amplification or performance.

“However it’s not all good news. Budgets and talent remains a challenge. Agencies need to take an agile approach to managing staff.”

The Global Women in PR (GWPR) survey results are also contained within the report, with family commitments being identified as the biggest barrier to women reaching leadership positions.
“Fundamental to changing this is to have better flexible working policies in place, yet only 67% of organisations allow employees to work from home on a regular basis,” said Angela Oakes, Joint President of GWPR, also citing parental leave as an issue. “Though most organisations have parental leave policies in place, three quarters of those that take this are women.”

Download the World PR Report 2018-2019 here