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NEW YORK ( -- Public relations spending plummeted in the first half of this year, suffering its greatest decline since 1993, according to the ninth annual Thomas L. Harris/Impulse Research Public Relations Client Survey.

The survey revealed that average public relations budgets fell 29% to $2.3 million in 2001 vs. $3.1 million for the same period last year. Spending on Internet communications fell sharply; spending also declined in media relations, internal communications and special events.

Sectors devoting the greatest percentage of revenues to public relations are e-commerce (.57%) and entertainment/sports (.32%). Areas accounting for the highest budgets are energy ($4.7 million); transportation ($4.47 million); retailing ($4.22 million) and telecommunications ($4.18 million).

The survey, a written questionnaire, included a cross-section of 3,452 public relations executives from all major industries, with a response rate of 44%. Thomas L. Harris & Co. is based in Highland Park, Ill.; Impulse Research Corp. is in Los Angeles.

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