Latest PRCAI report assesses that India's PR business touched 1600 crore rupees in 2019

The public relations (PR) industry grew from 9% in 2018 to 12% in 2019, touching the Rs 1,600 crore mark, according to the fourth ‘State of the Industry Survey 2019’ report by the Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI). 

The report is based on research conducted between August and November 2019, by i2iResearch. The respondents included both PR firms (34) and corporate communications professionals (39).

The report also predicts that the industry will continue to grow at a CAGR of 12.5%, reaching Rs 1800 crore by 2020, indicating a half percentage point growth over 2019.

Revenue from non-media services rising

The report states that while media relations continue to be the largest service, non-media relations services now contribute 53% of the industry’s revenue. Taken together three service lines - media relations, digital, and public affairs - contributed as much as 73% to the revenue of PR firms.

The report also highlighted an interesting cultural shift in the industry. While large PR firms are still getting more than 50% of their revenues from conventional businesses, the younger firms have been able to reduce their dependence on conventional media relations faster in favour of digital, social media, content and design services- for them, non-media PR constitutes 60% of the work.

Nitin Mantri, PRCAI President and Group CEO, Avian WE, said, "For the first time, revenue from non-media PR services (53%) has overtaken revenue from media relations (47%). This shift is also visible in the increase in technology spend by all PR firms and their effort to focus on lateral employment to expand service portfolios to cover more digital, social and data-related services. However, we must not stagnate. If we want to lead in this transformational world and drive our clients’ businesses forward, we must continue to innovate, engage, and evolve.”

PR in the south is growing 

The report also showed the revenue share of major geographical regions in India. The north and west remain the biggest centres of revenue for PR firms but the share of the revenue in the north is showing a falling trend from 48% in 2016 to 38%  in 2019.

Interestingly, the southern part of India is growing in terms of the overall share of PR revenue in the same time period.

This could indicate a broadening of PR services in the south that includes India's start-up centre Bengaluru and the outbound manufacturing centres of Chennai:

Challenges faced by industry

Talent Challenges

The report also says its research shows that the availability of talent remains a key issue with PR firms. The average revenue per employee in the last four years has grown by only 2%, resulting in increased employee cost and stress on profitability.

Pricing 

Pricing under stiff competition continues to be a problem because clients are tightening their budget. Compared to 46% in FY18, 71% of PR firms said the price cut was a growing concern in acquiring or retaining new clients. 

Key trends for FY20

91% of the respondents said there was a high demand for people with social media, data and analytics skills. There is also increased emphasis on campaign-driven work, visual communication and data-driven activities.

Integration also remained a top of the mind issue for respondents, 87% said the integration of PR and digital was critical as social PR was becoming more important than traditional PR

The shift of PR services

The report also spoke to in-house respondents. The results show that services such as marketing communication is increasingly a function being moved to PR firms. On the other hand with the growing need for corporate affairs and regulatory services, the corporates are not only using the services of outside firms but also strengthening their in-house public affairs teams strengths.

Challenges for inhouse communicators

Brand side respondents said that measurement and lack of storytelling is their top concern, whereas allocating PR budgets from the marketing matrix is not such an issue anymore. In fact, the percentage of respondents who felt getting marketing to allocate funds was an issue dropped from 80% to 59% from 2018 to 2019.