NEW YORK — Omnicom on Tuesday reported that PR agency revenue was down 5.5% in Q3, the first quarterly decline the group has experienced since Q1 2021.

During the third quarter of the year, Omnicom PR Group — which includes FleishmanHillard, Ketchum and Porter Novelli — performed poorer than the holding company’s other disciplines. Increases were seen by experiential (9.2%), advertising & media (6.1%), precision marketing (4.3%) and healthcare (3.8%). In addition to PR, execution & support saw revenue drop (3.6%) as did commerce & branding (1.7%).

In its Q3 earnings report, the company reported Omnicom as a whole saw worldwide revenue in the three months ending September 30 increase by 3.3% on an organic basis to nearly $3.6 billion.

The impact of foreign currency translation increased  revenue by $59.1 million, or 1.7%.  Acquisition revenue, net of disposition revenue, reduced revenue by $37.5 million, or 1.1%, primarily due to dispositions earlier in the year in the execution & support discipline, partially offset by acquisitions in the third quarter of 2023 in the advertising & media and public relations disciplines. OPRG acquired public affairs firm Plus Communications and political consultancy FP1 Strategies in September.

Organic growth by region in the third quarter of 2023 compared to the second quarter of 2022 was as follows: 2.7% for the US, 5.7% for Euro Markets & Other Europe, 4.4% for the UK, 19.2% for Latin America, and 2.5% for Asia Pacific. Organic decline by region was as follows: 10.8% for the Middle East & Africa, and 1.7% for Other North America.

"We are pleased with our strong organic revenue growth of 3.3%, with notable performances in our Advertising & Media, Precision Marketing, and Healthcare disciplines. Our year-to-date organic growth of 4.0% remains in line with our full-year expectations, which reflects the resiliency of our business even in periods of economic uncertainty," said Omnicom chairman and CEO John Wren. "Omnicom continued to post strong profitability and earnings growth in the quarter, and our recent business wins validate the benefits of our client strategy in this rapidly evolving marketplace. We are very well positioned for a recovery in business conditions, with a strong balance sheet and leading creativity in all of our service disciplines."

The Q3 revenue decline followed a flat Q2, which capped eight consecutive quarters of PR growth, having seen a 5.8% increase in Q1, 12.7% in Q4 2022, a 12.6% increase in Q3 2022, a 15.8% increase in the second quarter of 2022, a 14% increase in Q1 2022, a 4.4% increase in Q4 2021, a 10.5%. increase in revenue during Q3 2021 and 15.1% growth in revenue during the second quarter of the year — a turnaround from the 3.5% decline the PR group experienced in the first quarter of 2021.

That had followed the positive turn Omnicom’s PR agencies saw in Q4 2020, when the group’s revenue rose 0.2%, the first reported uptick in business since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. The group saw revenue drop 3.4% in Q3 of 2020 and 13.5% during Q2, the height of the pandemic shutdown.

All of which occurred against the backdrop of Omnicom and its agencies, including its PR firms, implementing layoffs and furloughs around the world in response to business drying up.

The report also comes roughly two years years since Omnicom hired Chris Foster as CEO of its $1.3 billion PR agency unit, and close to two years after Karen van Bergen relinquished the role.