Friday, July 28, 2006

Public relations outsourcing: India’s edge

I just saw a report on the increasing hourly rates in the public relations industry in the US. Slowly but steadily public relations is attaining as much importance as professions like legal and accounting in the US.

While this is heartening, there is a cause for worry for countries like the US on another front: outsourcing (read what I wrote just two days back). I will come to outsourcing a few paragraphs later…

In the US, hourly rates of public relations agency professionals have increased dramatically, according to a survey by M&A and search firm StevensGould Partners, New York.

Jack O’Dwyer’s newsletter reports that PR agency CEO’s billings are now in line with counterparts in the legal and accounting field. “The US average hourly rate of a PR agency CEO has hit $322, a figure that rises to $364 an hour in New York and $344 in Washington, DC… CEOs at firms with billings of more than $25 M billed out at an average of $470 per hour.”

In the US, the hourly rate of an account executive is now $140, senior account executive $161, account manager $202 and VP $226.

Now on to outsourcing. In India, though no authenticated data is available, one could consider a ballpark figure of around $40 per hour for an account executive working in one of the top agencies in Mumbai and New Delhi. The rate would fall drastically in the case of smaller agencies even in these cities. It would take a further dip in cities like Bangalore and Chennai.

Bangalore’s EmPower Research has been doing media monitoring for several PR and advertising agencies. Equally well known is the fact that organizations like Reuters have already outsourced journalism and data processing to India.

Sources indicate that at least one global PR giant has already initiated plans to outsource low-end work to India. The outsourcing trickle is expected to turn into a torrent soon. Watch this space.

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