LONDON—The ability to attract top talent remains the greatest concern for public relations agency leaders around the world, although concern about economic conditions persists across all the most developed markets.

Slightly more than 47 percent of respondents to our Holmes Report 250 global ranking project cited the ability to attract good people as one of the three major obstacles to the growth of the business in their region, with concerns highest in the US (where it was cited by 50.6 percent of respondents), the UK (48.2 percent) and western Europe (42.1 percent).

The ability to retain that talent—which had dropped to number five on the list of agency leaders’ concerns last year—was back to number three this year, cited by 21.9 percent of respondents around the world, and 25.9 percent of respondents in the US, which appears to be the most competitive market for recruitment and retention.

Economic concerns continued to occupy the number two spot, cited by 23.5 percent of respondents globally. Interestingly, given the relatively depressed state of the economy and the industry in Western Europe and the UK, concerns about the economy were cited by more US agency leaders (28.4 percent) than consultancy CEOs in either of those markets (23.7 percent and 22.2 percent respectively).

Agency leaders in both of those markets were more concerned about clients moving PR in house, about lack of understanding on the part of clients, and about PR being managed at a junior level than their counterparts in the US.

There were also regional differences when it came to where agency leaders saw competition.

In the US, for example, 18.5 percent cited competition from other PR firms as a concern, compared to 14.8 percent who were worried about competition from other marketing disciplines and 1.3 percent who were concerned about competition from other professional service firms.

In the UK, a similar 18.5 percent were concerned about competition from other PR firms, but 22.2 percent saw competition from other marketing disciplines as a problem, and there was no concern about other professional services.

In Western Europe, only 10.5 percent worried about other PR agencies, 15.8 percent worried about other marketing disciplines, and 5.3 percent worried about other professional service firms.