This week we launched the 2014 World PR Report that showed global PR growth surge to 11% in 2013 — the first time this figure has hit double-digits since the 2008 recession. And, interestingly, this year's top 250 PR firms ranged from $746.7 million all the way down to $2.8 million — compared to last year, when the list bottomed out at $1.6 million. The Holmes Report now estimates the PR industry is a $12.5 billion sector that employs 80,000 people worldwide. So what's driving this encouraging uptick? There are a few factors that jumped out in this year's report.
  • Digital — It shouldn't be a surprise that digital tops the list. Even so, in 2014, it looks like investments in digital and social are paying off as PR firms are having better success at competing for — and winning — work like digital builds and production, community management and other 'non-traditional' assignments.

  • Europe — While continental Europe isn't yet in the clear (its overall growth figures trailed at 4.4%), the region is seeing signs of improvement after several years of sluggish growth. Europe-based multi-nationals like MSLGroup and Havas had steady growth in 2013 and local players, including Germany's Media Consulta International and fischerApppelt, saw double-digit gains. Meanwhile, the UK led industry growth with four of the 10 fastest growing PR firms based in Britain, including Newgate Communications and We Are Social (bought by BlueFocus earlier this year).

  • Independent agencies — The independents topped the 11% industry growth rate, coming in at 12.5% and completely dominating the fastest growing agency rankings. Also of note is that independent PR firm fee income has almost reached parity with the big four holding groups (WPP, Omnicom, Interpublic and Publicis Group), with the former reporting $4.5 billion compared to the latter’s $4.7 billion. The world's largest PR firm, independent Edelman, grew 12.2% to $746.7 million in 2013.

  • Publicly-traded firms — Once again, publicly-traded multi-national firms lagged, growing by a modest 6%. But this is still a considerable improvement over last year when the big publicly-owned firms grew by a disappointing 3.3%. Among the bright spots, Weber Shandwick grew by 11% and fellow IPG firm Golin grew by 12%, meanwhile Omnicom's Ketchum grew by 11.4%.

  • Multi-market revenue growth — Agencies with global footprints are securing more international budgets, which is especially helpful for those that have plateaued in their home markets.