Pass-through costs are fees paid to other companies who operate and maintain the electricity network. For domestic customers these are all combined into a single standing charge.
According to the Holmes Report, WPP's PR unit grew 2.7% on a reported basis, less pass-through costs, to £270m - meaning the company outperformed two of group's other three units including advertising and media investment, and, branding, healthcare and specialty.
In the earnings statement, WPP CEO Mark Read said "The group’s public relations and public affairs businesses were down 0.3%, with strong growth in Western Continental Europe and the Middle East."
Omnicom Group, an American global media, marketing and corporate communications holding company with PR firms which include FleishmanHillard, Ketchum and Porter Novelli, has also reported that its PR firms were down 0.5% on an organic basis during the first quarter of 2019.
The decline in revenue comes after four consecutive quarters of growth for the PR group. During Q4 2018, revenue grew 1.5%, although that was down from the 2.3% lift in revenue the group experienced during the third quarter of 2018.
Holmes Report reported that during Q2, the PR group experienced 2.7% growth which was far ahead of the year's weak first quarter, when PR grew by just 0.7%.
Chairman and CEO John Wren, however, said he expects the group's performance to be on the upswing. "We are seeing some positive signs in certain areas of our PR operations and believe the growth strategies being implemented by our management teams will result in better performance," Wren said during the quarterly earnings call.
Overall, Omnicom's worldwide revenue in the first quarter of of 2019 decreased 4.4% to $3,468.9 million from $3,629.6 million in the first quarter of 2018.