LONDON--WPP has reported a disappointing decline of 4.1 percent for its PR and public affairs revenues in the first quarter of 2013.

The group, which owns Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy PR and Hill + Knowlton Strategies, noted that the PR group was the only one of its four divisions which did not grow during the first quarter of this year.

The 1Q decline, to £221m,  comes after WPP's PR and PA income decreased by one percent in 2012. Public relations now accounts for 8.7 percent of the WPP's overall earnings.

In a statement, WPP indicated that North America, Western Continental Europe and Asia-Pacific were "particularly difficult" for its PR firms. "The United Kingdom and Latin America were stronger."

The results indicate that WPP's PR firms are lagging their rivals, after both Interpublic and Omnicom reported single digit PR increases in the first quarter of this year. It is understood that MSLGroup also grew in the low single-digits during the same time period.

Overall, WPP's like-for-like revenue was up two percent to £2.53bn, with digital leading growth of 10 percent in the group's branding, healthcare and specialist communications unit.

"Following the Group’s record year in 2012, 2013 has started similarly to the final quarter of 2012,
with all geographies and sectors, except public relations and public affairs, growing revenues on a
constant currency basis," said WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell.