Where have all the UK PR bloggers gone?

26/1/15 Post has been updated to include some entries that were missed off the original post and to take account of feedback in comments and on Twitter.

Paul Sutton posted yesterday about the “Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Comms Bloggers“. In the post Paul highlights the apparent demise of marketing and communications bloggers in the UK.

I thought I’d investigate PR related blogs in particular. To do this I analysed the tweets from over 500 of the most influential members of the UK PR community over the last 60 days (c. 140,000 tweets all told).

Within these there were a little under 2,000 domains represented that were shared by two or more members of the community during the period. Of these I spotted 73 sites that are PR related, or carry PR content, and are UK based.

6 media outlets – The Drum, Econsultancy, PRWeek, Holmes Report, PR Moment and Communicate.

35 corporate sites – almost all agencies with a few service providers included. Some, or all, of these could be in the list due to posts on their corporate blogs being shared, though it could also be content like news announcements or job opportunities.* 

Of the remaining 32 sites, 7 are multiple contributor sites – CIPR Conversation, the PRCA’s blog, Comms2point0 (Dan Slee, Darren Caveney), Behind the Spin, PR examples, PR Conversations (Judy Gombita, Heather Yaxley, Marcus Pirchner) and CharityComms. Paul’s post itself appears on both his own personal blog and the CIPR Conversation.

Leaving 25 sites that relate to a single individual “blogger”. In alphabetical order these are:

allthingsic.com (Rachel Miller)
blog.magicbeanlab.com (Mat Morrison)
byrnebabybyrne.com (Colin Bryne)
commsbird.wordpress.com (Rachel Moss)
escherman.com (Andrew Smith)
greenbanana.wordpress.com (Heather Yaxley)
maxtb.com (Max Tatton-Brown)
prstudies.com (Richard Bailey)
showmenumbers.com (Some random guy)
wadds.co.uk (Stephen Waddington)


The data suggests there’s a relatively small cohort of UK PR bloggers that are garnering attention with personal blogs.

Meanwhile a large proportion of content being shared would appear to consist of corporate blogs or people contributing to media outlets and shared platforms.


A few points to note:

1. The timeframe of this analysis (over the Christmas period) may mean that some blogs haven’t appeared because they didn’t post much, if at all, during the 60 days. I will re run the analysis in March to see if the picture is similar.

2. Posts will almost certainly be being shared through other means than Twitter, LinkedIn for example, but I would still find it surprising if interesting posts weren’t being shared to some extent on Twitter.

3. It’s possible there are blogs that are attracting significant attention from the UK PR community, just not from the group of influencers our data looks at. This seems unlikely as I’d be surprised if at least some of this group wouldn’t have picked up on such content.

4. The option to now publish within LinkedIn may be a substitute for personal blogs, as could Medium. Both of these sites appear high in the list so it could be worth looking at these in more detail.

5. I could have just missed someone relevant on the results. If anyone wants to look at the full list let me know.

* Corporate sites

I haven’t included sites that relate to agencies with global operations e.g. edelman.com, blog.ketchum.com where it’s likely that content is being created by UK based staff. The exception being where a dedicated .co.uk domain appeared in the list.


UK PR Agency/Freelance market £2bn according to PRWeek/PRCA Census

PRWeek and the PRCA announced the results of their PR Census a few weeks ago now. One of the key headline numbers was their estimated turnover of the UK PR Industry – £7.5bn.

I wanted to clarify how this number was reached and Cathy Bussey at PRWeek was kind enough to put me in touch with the senior researcher at Harris Interactive who put together the analysis.

He was most helpful and from our discussions I established that the £7.5bn represents the estimate of the total amount spent on PR both in house and with external agencies and freelancers.

UK PR Industry PR Census split

The split between in house and advisory is:

In House – £5.5bn
Agency/Freelancers – £2.0bn

The estimates were reached through the use of a combination of data including census returns, Office of National Statistics Data and the PRWeek Top150. With regards to the Agency/freelancer market figure of £2bn my view is that it is probably at the higher end of the likely range of estimates (as I will indicate below), but from my discussions the methodology behind it seems reasonable.

On the face of it two immediate implications are apparent. The vast majority of PR is delivered from in house resources (73 per cent of the total) and the agency/freelance market is highly fragmented.

The “highly fragmented” implication being due to the PRWeek Top 150 agencies with a combined income of £839m accounting for 42 per cent of the total UK agency/freelance market with no one agency in the Top 150 accounting for more than 3.3 per cent of the total market – Bell Pottinger – and even they are arguably a collection of agencies under one umbrella.

However these conclusions would represent an over simplification of the market.

Many Markets

When people talk about “the housing market” I often sigh because such a thing doesn’t really exist. In reality there are a lot of micro markets dependent on type of property and geography, even down to street level in some cases. In a similar way, as any agency MD/owner would tell you, the PR advisory market isn’t one homogenous beast.

At a very basic level it breaks into two main areas:

1. The small number of larger agencies almost exclusively based in the London Metro area competing for the accounts of large, often multinational, companies in the main where breadth of service areas, international capability and established brand can often be hygiene factors. These large companies will almost always have significant in house PR capability compared to SME’s meaning that external PR spend as a proportion of in house spend in this large company market will probably be quite a bit lower than the overall 27 per cent figure. Competition is therefore still very high despite the small number of participants as clients in house capability means they still hold the majority of the cards.

2. The remainder of the market where a very high volume of participants compete in individual micro markets driven by geography, sector and/or service area. In these markets the purchasers of external support will generally have much lower levels of in house PR capability (potentially none) and so the spend on PR will almost certainly represent a much higher proportion of total spend than the 27 per cent average. This can lead to these clients relying more heavily on their PR advisers, though this is very dependent on the particular micro market and how differentiated an individual agency/freelancer is in that market.

The £2bn overall estimate gives us a basis to estimate the potential split between these two broad market areas and equally these definitions provide a framework to test the reasonableness of the £2bn estimate itself.

Large Company Market

Firstly on the large company side we can look to establish a likely cut off point in agency size terms based on market share.

A bit of additional analysis on the PRWeek Top150 relating to the holding companies of agencies establishes the following list of 16 groups or individual agencies who would have market share of 0.5 per cent or more if the total UK agency/freelance PR market is £2bn. (Note many of these numbers are estimated by PRWeek within the Top 150 as the agencies don’t provide specific numbers – full details here)

Revised position Company Income £’000 UK Market %
1 WPP agencies¹ 91,600 4.6%
2 Bell Pottinger Group 67,818 3.4%
3 Omnicom agencies² 57,500 2.9%
4 Huntsworth agencies³ 55,663 2.8%
5 Brunswick 53,200 2.7%
6 Interpublic agencies4 37,500 1.9%
7 FD 31,000 1.6%
8 Edelman 28,777 1.4%
9 Freud Communications 23,800 1.2%
10 Engine Group 22,252 1.1%
11 MS&L Group 20,000 1.0%
12 College Hill 16,730 0.8%
13 Havas agencies5 14,500 0.7%
14 Photon agencies6 13,330 0.7%
15 Next Fifteen agencies7 11,858 0.6%
16 Chandler Chicco Companies 10,602 0.5%
Total 556,130 27.8%

See Notes below for agencies within each group.

This analysis makes WPP the single largest player in the UK PR market with 4.6 per cent of the market.

Obviously agencies (and freelancers) that are smaller than the £10m (0.5 per cent) cut off I have used above can still often win work with large companies, particularly if they have an area of clear differentiation either around sector or service specialism. If you include agencies with income of greater than £3m (0.15 per cent of the total market) from the PRWeek 150 table these would add an additional £144m between them giving £700m in total.

Two other factors need to be taken account of to reach our estimate of the large company market. Firstly not all sizeable agencies are in the Top 150 (though the vast majority are) and in addition there will be some PR services being provided to large companies by teams within agencies of other types e.g. digital marketing, SEO and social media. (Equally it is worth bearing in mind that some of the PR agencies concerned could be providing some marketing and SEO services within their own figures). As a complete finger in the air estimate to compensate for this if we make an allowance of £100m this would imply that the large company market is approx £800m in total.

For information if we now restate the table above based on an estimate of £800m for the large company market you get the following market share figures for the largest groups/agencies in this market:

Revised position Company Income £’000 UK Large Co. Market %
1 WPP agencies 91,600 11.5%
2 Bell Pottinger Group 67,818 8.5%
3 Omnicom agencies 57,500 7.2%
4 Huntsworth agencies 55,663 7.0%
5 Brunswick 53,200 6.7%
6 Interpublic agencies 37,500 4.7%
7 FD 31,000 3.9%
8 Edelman 28,777 3.6%
9 Freud Communications 23,800 3.0%
10 Engine Group 22,252 2.8%
11 MS&L Group 20,000 2.5%
12 College Hill 16,730 2.1%
13 Havas agencies 14,500 1.8%
14 Photon agencies 13,330 1.7%
15 Next Fifteen agencies 11,858 1.5%
16 Chandler Chicco Companies 10,602 1.3%
556,130 69.5%

These figures suggest that this large company market is actually quite concentrated when you take account of holding company groups with the top 10 accounting for almost 60 per cent.

Micro markets

The large company estimate of £800m would leave approx £1.2bn of the £2bn overall which would then relate to the second category of micro markets.

Ignoring sector or service specialism and just focussing on geography within these micro markets then the largest of them unsurprisingly is the London Metro area with the remaining PRWeek Top 150 entrants with income of less than £3m predominantly still based here – £109m out of £139m or 79%.

The unknown factor here is what proportion of the London Metro area market do these agencies account for? If for arguments sake we said it was half then this would give an estimate for this micro market of approx £200m+.

This would mean the large company market (mainly serviced from within London Metro) and the smaller company London Metro markets would be approximately £1bn combined. In turn implying the remaining micro markets for the rest of the UK would then account for approx £1bn.

(Interesting to note that the London Metro region accounts for an estimated 30 per cent of UK GDP and yet apparently at least 50 per cent of UK PR activity)

It is this implied figure for the regions of £1bn that leads me to think that the overall £2bn estimate may be on the high side. Evidence for this comes from the PRWeek Regional agencies rankings.

Regional element

Manchester based agencies have the largest combined income in the PR Week regional list with £12.2m and no other city represented on the list has more than £10m. There are 17 cities in the UK outside of the London Metro area with populations of more than 250,000 the average of which is 427,000. The following table shows their population and the combined income total of PR agencies in the Top 40 Regional List that are based there.



Combined Regional Top 40 value £’m

































Newcastle upon Tyne



These regional markets may be highly fragmented and freelancers may account for a much higher proportion of PR services in these areas. It also seems likely that a lot more PR services may be provided by agencies/freelancers who would have a broader marketing remit and so wouldn’t fall under the definition of “PR agency”. Consequenty these ranked agencies may only account for a relatively small proportion of the PR services provided in their area. However given the regional rankings it still seems unlikely that even the largest of these regional markets is measured in more than tens of millions. For the purpose of this exercise if we therefore assume the market size for the average of these cities is £25m you would get a total estimate for these larger regional markets of £425m.

This would give a total for large companies, London Metro and the main regional centres of approx £1.4bn. With the remainder of the country being likely to be fairly limited in market size terms it does seem that the £2bn overall figure looks a bit of a stretch. This analysis suggests an overall estimate of £1.6bn might be nearer.

On the other hand the analysis could be understating the large company market (is £100m enough for missing entrants in the PRWeek 150 and other types of agency?), the smaller company London Metro market could be substantially more than £200m (do the PRWeek entrants count for less than 50 per cent?) and perhaps the regional agencies really do only account for a very small proportion of their local markets.

Without detailed returns from everyone this is always going to be a difficult task and the research for the PRWeek/PRCA Census was certainly thorough so perhaps we can agree that a figure of £1.8bn +/- 10% is a fair range.


Agency groups

1. Finsbury, Hill and Knowlton, Ogilvy Health, Cohn & Wolfe, Burston Marsteller, Buchanan, Ogilvy, Clarion Comms
2. Ketchum Pleon, Fleishman Hillard, Fishburn Hedges, Porter Novelli, Kreab Gavin Anderson
3. Grayling, Citigate, Red, Tonic Life
4. Weber Shandwick, Golin Harris
5. EuroRSCG and Maitland
6. Frank, Hotwire
7. Lexis, Bite

PRFilter – a breakthrough in PR relevance?

Andrew Lim – Editorial Director, Recombu and Founder of UKTJPR “PRfilter is a fantastic way to manage press releases and find interesting stories.

James Holland Editor, Electric Pig “Catering to the whimsy of fickle journalistic tastes is no easy task, but the intelligent tuning behind PR Filter shows great promise. A service that cuts the clutter, and brings me news I can actually use? Sign me up!

Stuart Miles Owner/Editor, Pocket Lint “PRFilter looks to be the service that will help me get the news I want and filter out the press releases I don’t

To date the use of technology to solve the issue of irrelevant or badly targeted PR content has been relatively limited. Database structures used for press release targeting are generally based around categorisation or perhaps keywords. Depending on the level of granularity this can often result in a poor match of a particular press release to individual journalists or bloggers.

Recently new language analysis based databases have started to be released that look at a journalist or blogger’s output in order to try and identify those who talk about a particular topic the most. This improves the intelligence of the approach for the sender if they use such tools effectively.

But even tools such as these do not address the issue from the individual journalist or blogger’s perspective. They don’t allow the recipients themselves to decide how relevant something must be to get their attention. Meanwhile spam filters or rules based inbox systems are often crude or time consuming to manage.

At RealWire we thought we would try and take a different approach. Having built a system to improve the targeting of our own distribution (which we will be applying in the coming weeks) we decided to go further. We asked ourselves – what if we could adapt the system to provide relevant releases to individual journalists and bloggers across thousands of releases a day from multiple sources?

So after months of development, in a bold experiment to both demonstrate our filtering technology and as a potential solution to the issue of irrelevant PR we have built PRFilter.

We believe PRFilter is something different:

Like the language analysis databases, PRFilter’s active interest technology builds a profile of a journalist or blogger’s interests from their own, or their publication’s, published articles. It then refines and updates this profile as new articles are published.

But then it flips things on their head and applies this profile to an inbound aggregated stream of press releases from multiple sources, presenting the individual journalist or blogger with the releases it thinks are most relevant to them – in a given time period, in selected geographies and even on a certain topic.

The user can then set their own personal relevance threshold and subscribe to alerts which pass this test (currently via RSS, other notification systems to follow). They can even train the system to improve its predictions by providing feedback on when it is right and wrong.

Making finding relevant stories a quicker and easier task and ensuring that senders of PR know that when their releases are indexed by PRFilter they will be seen by the most relevant media.

As the quotes above show we have already had some great feedback from initial beta testers, but like all beta applications we know it won’t be perfect and are keen to get feedback from all interested parties. Either contact me @AdParker, [email] adam@realwire.com, follow @PRFilter or register your interest in a beta account or updates here.

Online Visibility-its not the size of your traffic that counts

At RealWire we have recently become aware that a major wire service is making a big deal out of their website’s high traffic numbers. In fact they have been specifically targeting the market trying to argue that their service is hugely better where visibility is concerned.

However they don’t mention the following three crucial issues about the traffic to their site.

1. That volume of traffic is clearly going to be affected by quantity of content.

2. The time visitors actually spend reading their content.

3. The relevance of those visitors to the content.

At RealWire we are always keen to make sure that discussions are based around the facts so let’s look at each of these in turn to see how our readership, engagement and relevance are all in fact apparently superior to Big Wire Corp’s.

Quantity of content

Q: Which is the more “popular” of the following two sites?

Site A – 1 piece of content and 1,000 page views in a month
Site B –  1 million pieces of content and 1 million page views in a month

Well according to their literature Big Wire Corp would apparently see Site B as a more popular destination because it has 1,000 times more page views. Makes sense, bigger is better right? Wrong.

Site A’s one piece of content has been viewed 1,000 times, whereas each of Site B’s stories has only be viewed once on average. Now which site is more popular? Site A of course.

Now let’s apply this concept to Big Wire Corp’s website.

First of all let’s get an idea of volume of content. The Google “Site:[url]” command gives you the number of unique pages indexed by Google on a particular site – a good proxy for the amount of content.

In this case the answer is 406,000.

Next we need an idea of traffic to the site. Google AdPlanner provides estimates of monthly page views.

In this case the answer is 7.5 million

I we then divide page views by content, we get an estimate of the number of views per article per month. Answer 18.5.

RealWire’s equivalent data from the same sources is
Content – 5,500
Page views – 200,000* (less than 3% of Big Wire Corp’s figure)

This gives 36.4 page views per article per month.

Twice the Big Wire Corp figure suggesting RealWire has higher readership for each article.

*I happen to know that the page view figure is too high in RealWire’s case (we do have analytics of course) but it could equally also be so for Big Wire Corp and so until I can get a hold of actual numbers for them I am being consistent.


Q: Which of these two sites is engaging its readership the most?

Site A – average time spent on each page 2 minutes

Site B – average time spent on each page 5 seconds

Site A obviously. Each of the readers are spending 24 times longer reading an article on average than on Site B.

So let’s apply this to Big Wire Corp again.

Again Google AdPlanner can help. It tells us how many visits the site receives and how long each one lasts. From this we can get Time spent per Page as follows:

Time spent on page calculation

Big Wire Corp numbers

Time spent per visit = 3 minutes 50 seconds (230 seconds)
Total page views = 7.5 million
Total visits = 3.5 million

Time spent per page = 107.5 seconds or 1 minute 47.5 seconds

RealWire numbers

Time spent per visit = 8 minutes (480 seconds)
Total page views = 200,000
Total visits = 64,000

Time spent per page = 153.6 seconds or 2 minutes 33.6 seconds

43% more than Big Wire Corp suggesting readers of RealWire content are more engaged.


Q: Which of these two sites is most likely to have the most relevant readership to a UK relevant story?

Site A – 100% of visits from the UK

Site B – 1% of visits from the UK

A: Site A – Yes I know these are getting ridiculously easy now! :-)

Big Wire Corp’s market report focusses on US usage of their site when comparing themselves to others such as RealWire. However given that the vast majority of their content is from US companies it will come as no surprise that the vast majority of their traffic does as well. Google Ad Planner again helps us out.

US traffic – 76% of total

But the majority of RealWire’s clients and therefore content are from the UK. So what’s Big Wire Corp’s UK traffic like?

UK traffic – 3% of total.

And RealWire’s UK traffic? Well AdPlanner estimates around 75% but the real figure is nearer 45% or 15 times the Big Wire Corp figure.

Suggesting that RealWire’s traffic is around 15 times more likely to be relevant.


When evaluating traffic between sites it is imperative that you don’t get drawn in by the size of headline traffic numbers and that you consider:

a) normalising traffic for levels of content

b) how engaged the readers are

c) how relevant the readers are

Or you could find yourself reaching some very misleading conclusions. Just ask Big Wire Corp :-)

* Hattip to Andrew B Smith for highlighting the value of Google Adplanner for such analysis

An Inconvenient PR Truth – a campaign to reduce PR spam

We have launched a campaign today that aims to address the issue of irrelevant press release emails. To learn more watch the video below and then visit the An Inconvenient PR Truth website if you would like to get involved in the debate.

Update: We have posted answers to the main FAQs regarding the animation here. The debate has also moved onto PRWeek UK here.