US Government Now 2nd Largest PR Firm in the World

Federal government has spent $4 Billion selling itself since 2007.

Since 2007, more than $4 billion has been spent on Public Relations by the American federal government, said a report released last month by a non-partisan watchdog organization called Open the Books. The report indicates that the American government is now the “second largest public relations firm in the world.”

Titled, “The Department of Self-Promotion: How Federal Agency PR Spending Advances Their Interests Rather Than the Public Interest,” the report indicates that $4.35 billion was spent in combined public affairs salaries, bonuses and outside PR contract work between 2007 and 2015.

The largest spenders for PR? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Army, the EPA, FEMA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Navy and the National Institutes of Health.

There were $2.3 billion in salaries and “performance bonuses” of $11 million to PR people over the last eight years. $2 billion has been spent by 139 government agencies on contracts with outside PR firms for services including “market research and public opinion” and “public relations services.”

Among the many PR agencies who have been paid large sums: Ogilvy PR Worldwide ($47.93M) and Fleishman-Hillard, Inc. ($42.4M).

There has been “a 47 percent difference between the highest two years for PR costs during Obama's tenure, compared to spending during the last two years of the Bush administration.” 

Government PR positions have grown 15 percent in the last seven years — or about more than 400 employees — from 2,688 to its current roster of 3,092 employees.

Ronn Torossian is the founder of 5WPR, one of the 20 largest PR agencies in the United States, and has been named the Public Relations executive of the year.