NEW YORK — Interpublic’s PR division reported revenue growth in the low single digits during the first quarter of 2020, the group announced today.

Andy Polansky, the former Weber Shandwick global CEO who last July was named chairman and CEO of Interpublic Group's Constituency Management Group (CMG) division, said that the Q1 lift was slightly down from the mid-single digit growth the division recorded on an as-reported basis in the same period last year. 

IPG’s Golin and Weber Shandwick brands had particularly strong quarters, Polansky said. Golin’s performance was fueled by new business from the likes of Twitter and Lego, which the firm picked up late last year. Weber Shandwick’s healthcare practice and United Minds consultancy also recorded strong performances.

PR agencies were experiencing increased demand for crisis communications services, as well as work related to the coronavirus pandemic, which included new clients coming onboard, Polansky said. Weber Shandwick, for instance, was tapped by Global Citizen to support the media strategy for the organization’s “One World” broadcast, which raised more than $127m for coronavirus response efforts.

Business in the first quarter was particularly strong in North America, Latin America and the UK. Organic revenues for the whole of CMG — which represents 29 marketing brands — for the three months ending March 31 were up 3.7%, or 3% on an as-reported basis.

Q1 was the eight consecutive quarter of growth for the CMG division, which, in addition to Weber Shandwick and Golin, includes DeVries, Rogers & Cowan, which merged with PMK·BNC in July 2019, and Current Global, which launched in early April last year with the merger of Current Marketing and Creation.

However, Polansky said the group had experienced a softening of business in the latter half of March due to the Covid-19 outbreak and shutdown, which has carried into the second quarter.

"Our first quarter results are not indicative of the challenging environment we see ahead,” he said. The company is “monitoring very carefully” the effects the pandemic is having on the CMG division’s agencies, and will be “taking actions appropriately while minimizing the impact on people.”

“On the positive side, I would say Q1 is reflective of the strength of our brands and market position,” he said, adding that the company’s global workforce as adopted “extremely well” to working remotely, as evident in the health crisis work being produced.