The expected profitability score for PR agencies has increased from 6.7 to seven out of 10 within the past year, according to the PR leaders, directors and agency owners who took part in the ICCO World PR Report survey.
This comes alongside the finding that clients are demanding a wider range of services beyond traditional PR from agencies, with a score of 6.5, up from 6.1 in 2021.
Compared to last year, there was a 12 per cent increase of respondents reporting mental health issues, with the UK, Latin America and the US having the most reported experiences of poor mental health.
Grzegorz Szczepanski, president of the ICCO, said: “The importance of PR professionals is being increasingly recognised, as organisations and leaders face greater scrutiny from a more discerning public.
"To meet this high demand and growing range of services, it’s crucial for agencies to invest time and energy into creating an environment that fosters both professional and personal growth. Otherwise, we’re at risk of watching premier talent exit our industry.”
The study found that just 30 per cent of respondents believe the industry reflects the ethnic demographics of the countries they serve. On a more hopeful note, it reported 79 per cent of agencies having an inclusion and diversity policy, compared to 55 per cent in 2021.
Results also point to more businesses addressing corporate purpose (7.2, up from 6.9), as ESG is one of the top two investment areas for every region of the world, and sustainability and environment ranks as the most important social issue.
Retaining key talent continues to be the top challenge, according to agency bosses, followed by motivating younger staff and developing junior staff.
The ICCO report suggests engagement metrics have overtaken media clippings as the most-requested client measurement method for the first time globally. Despite this, only 20 per cent of respondents reported using AMEC tools frequently.
Francis Ingham, chief executive of the ICCO, said: “We have seen an elevation in the importance of the PR and communications role. Our members are assuming increasingly important responsibilities in advising, guiding, often stewarding, and executing complex programmes for their organisations. But to meet the challenges ahead, we must continue upskilling, embracing the latest tech and analytics, and measuring our work in a sophisticated way”.