Fueled by continued expansion in the healthcare and technology sectors, the 100 largest public relations firms in the U.S. grew by an average of 25% in 1997. The growth also was due to bigger budgets from clients in the investor relations and public affairs arenas, according to Inside PR, an industry newsletter. Burson-Marsteller, the public relations subsidiary of Young & Rubicam, kept the No. 1 position in the world, thanks to a year of close to 14% growth. Burson finished 1997 with fees of around $265 million. Hill & Knowlton finished in second place, with fees of close to $190 million. The industry's top 100 firms created more than 1,500 new jobs last year, growing their workforces by an average of 20%.
"This is clearly a boom time for public relations agencies, which are finally earning a place not only in the marketing mix but also at the corporate policy-making level," says Paul Holmes, editor of Inside PR.