Executive Summary

L.A. public relations firms continue to enjoy an extraordinary growth spurt that began two or three years ago.

Combined fee income for the top 25 agencies on the list jumped to $168 million in 1999, a 27.3 percent gain over the previous year. Much of the growth can be attributed to dot-com clients, which have flocked to P.R. agencies in an effort to build public recognition of their brand names.

L.A. has long contained a wide array of agencies specializing in serving entertainment industry clients, and the local growth of the technology industry has led to a new local specialty "convergence," the melding of entertainment and tech. Web sites providing entertainment content have no trouble finding P.R. agencies in L.A. with expertise in both areas.

Not all the growth can be attributed to dot-coms. A booming economy last year prompted clients in many industries to up their marketing budgets. In addition, many companies are allocating more of their marketing budgets to P.R. and less to advertising.

The pacesetter

Shandwick/Rogers & Cowan

It was a good year for Shandwick/Rogers & Cowan, with 1999 fee income from its L.A.-area operations totaling $15.4 million, an increase of 8.5 percent from the previous year.

The Rogers & Cowan name is widely associated with entertainment marketing, but the agency now considers entertainment to be just one of three main specialties the other two being technology and consumer products.

"One real area of growth for us has been in the music sector," said Tom Tardio, president of Shandwick U.S. and co-chairman and managing director of Shandwick/Rogers & Cowan. The agency handles a broad spectrum of clients in the industry, from Nine Inch Nails to Faith Hill.

The firm's entertainment savvy proved quite beneficial during the past year, with the explosion of entertainment-related dot-coms. "You now have an entire set of new industries that are desperate to tie into the entertainment industry," said Tardio. "There is no major player that has been able to build an entertainment practice like Shandwick and utilize that outside of L.A." Shandwick clients in the technology sector include Microsoft Corp. and Priceline.com.

Celebrities represented by the agency include Mel Gibson, Eddie Murphy and Denzel Washington.

Shandwick is owned by the Interpublic Group of New York, one of the world's largest communications holding companies.

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