LONDON--WPP has reported a rise in PR revenues of 5.6 percent in the first quarter of this year.

In a trading update the marketing services group said the the rise was “slightly ahead” of its Q4 PR earnings in 2010, making it the best performing PR quarter for over a year. WPP owns numerous PR agencies, including international networks Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton, Ogilvy PR and Cohn & Wolfe.

However, PR continued to lag growth in other disciplines - advertising and media was up almost 13 percent, while branding, healthcare and specialist communications increased by almost 12 percent. Only consumer insight, which rose by 3.4 percent, had a weaker quarter than PR.

PR and public affairs revenues reached £207.9 million for the quarter, with the discipline accounting for 9.4 percent of total earnings - a slight dip in proportion from 9.6 percent one year earlier.

In 2010, PR and public affairs revenue growth lagged all other disciplines at WPP. The group reported like-for-like revenue growth of 3.7 percent in its PR and public affairs operations in 2010, behind advertising and media (+7.1 percent), branding, healthcare and specialist comms (+4.5 percent), and consumer insight (+3.9 percent).

Overall, on a like-for-like basis, group revenues were up 6.7 percent and gross margin 7.4 percent in first quarter of 2011, compared with the same period last year.