New research into the Influence 100, the Holmes Report's annual list of the world's most powerful brand and corporate communicators, reveals that their PR budgets continue to shrink, alongside their agency spending patterns. 

After a temporary spike to 19% last year, the number of executives who oversee PR budgets greater than $100m has continued its freefall. From 50% of respondents managing budgets of this size in 2014, the proportion is now down to 11%.

Those who peg their budget between $75m and $100m dropped to 14% from 19% last year, although that still represents an increase from 10% in 2016 and 2015. Those handling a budget between $50m and $75m dropped to 11%, down from 13% last year and 28% in 2016.

The majority of respondents — 56% — now manage a PR budget of less than $25m, a dramatically higher proportion than last year, when less than 30% were at the lower end of the budget spectrum.

The numbers indicate that the Influence 100 controls PR spend in excess of $3.3bn, almost 50% less than the $6.5bn recorded when this survey launched in 2012.

The majority of respondents said budgets had stayed flat on the previous year; where there had been budget increases, these were almost all limited to 5% or less. Some disclosed they had seen budget cuts of 10%, 20% and even 30% this year.

Agency spend also appears to be down, with just 3% spending more than $30m on their PR agency partners, compared to 15% last year (but more in line with 4% in 2016). More than a third (36%) of respondents spend between $10m and $30m on PR agencies. At the lower end, the number of respondents spending less than $1m was back up to 20% this year, as in 2016, compared to 14% last year.

In-depth research into how the Influence 100 manages its teams, budgets and agencies can be found here, including: reporting lines, team size trends, integration, agency responsibilities and hiring factors. 

The full Influence 100 can be found here, including Profiles of each executive and comprehensive insights on:
Demographics & Background
Future Challenges, Diversity & Inspiration