CIPR state of profession study: expanding PR industry but over reliance on tactics

The CIPR State of Profession 2018 study shows industry growth and higher salaries but also an over reliance on tactics and a growing gender pay gap #StateofPR.

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First, the good news. Public relations is in high demand in the UK. And, as an industry it’s expanding. The PR workforce has grown by almost a quarter (22%) over the past four years. Today over 71,000 PR practitioners work in the UK.

This is according to Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures revealed today in the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ (CIPR) 2018 State of the Profession report (#StateofPR). 

The study - delivered in partnership with Chalkstream - reports that 84% of in-house teams and 96% of consultancies are either growing or stable in size.

Overall, average salaries for full-time workers grew by £1,123 from £50,447 in 2017 to £51,570 in 2018.

This growth makes sense in an era of having to navigate past fake news stories. In a landscape which puts consumers in the driving seat in terms of holding brands to account more pointedly (think Facebook, Uber, and YouTube), corporate reputation management is imperative. 

A bedrock skill within Influencer marketing is to nurture long-term mutually beneficial long-term business-growth partnerships between brand and influencer. Skills best suited to PR practitioners above any other creative industry. 

Skills gap for PR practitioners

Sustaining public relations’ golden age will mean plugging a skills gap at the top of the industry.

The CIPR state of the Profession report (#StateofPR) identifies that for senior practitioners there is a skills gap between the skills they perceive to be of most value and the skills actually in demand by potential employers.

CIPR state of profession

Survey respondents were asked to indicate how they spent their time by identifying specific work activities. The results reveal the evolving skillset required of public relations professionals.

Segmenting these responses by respondents’ seniority reveals powerful insights into how workflow is distributed amongst PR professionals.

Nine out of 10 (88%) recruiters value strategic thinking as one of the most significant attributes in senior practitioners. Senior practitioners rate it as strength (45%), and strategic planning is one of the most commonly undertaken activities at this level (66%). However, senior practitioners need to build their business acumen to break through beyond PR.

CIPR state of profession
CIPR state of profession

This is further reflected with their position within the organisation. Whereas 43% of senior practitioners report directly to the board, only 11% are executive board members.

Boardroom aspirations

The PR industry wants to sit as the top table within organisations. Not only for the kudos it believes this will bring it. Nor because having direct influence over how organisations behave towards all of their important people is crucial to sustained economic growth in our social age. But also to fill a void which might be filled elsewhere. Filled by other creative industries or by management consultancies.

Our clients shouldn’t have to choose between creative smarts and business smarts. Instead PR practitioners should provide the best in strategy, data and insight creating best practice work.

Our clients deserve a knock-out combination of keen business minds plus fertile imagination. They deserve a blend of creativity and reinvention scattered through the whole advisory and services mix.

Said Sarah Hall Chart.PR, FCIPR, CIPR President explains the challenge of the tactical over the strategic facing the PR industry and CIPR’s place in redressing this imbalance:

“This year’s State of the Profession survey underlines the challenges for the public relations industry. Practitioners remain predominately tactical. The CIPR’s role must be to equip them with boardroom skills.

There are two outcomes to achieve here. By focusing on financial, business management and consultancy competencies we can command the respect of management teams by speaking their language and by demonstrating the true value of public relations, increase investment in it.”

Other key findings from CIPR State of Profession study

1. Tactical dominance - Copywriting/editing (73%), PR programmes / campaigns (68%) and media relations (65%) comprise the top three most commonly undertaken activities, suggesting PR professionals spend the majority of their time on tactical delivery

2. Gender inequality

    (a) The true gender pay gap - which strips out factors that influence salaries such as part-time work - rose from £5,784 to £6,725

    (b) ONS data indicates women now comprise 56% of the industry - a proportion which has declined year-on-year since 2013 when women made up 63% of the industry

    3. Diversity gap - More PR professionals than ever (65%) believe PR campaigns are more effective when practiced by ethnically diverse teams but ONS data indicates the industry has remained more than 91% white since 2013

    4. Mental health - Around one in six PR professionals (16%) report living with a mental health condition - an increase of 10% from last year's research.

More about the CIPR State of the Profession 2018 survey

You can find out more about the CIPR State of the Profession 2018 survey and download a copy of the report by visiting the CIPR website.

About the Author Scott Guthrie

Scott Guthrie works with companies to drive business growth in the social age through strategic insight and technical know-how. That's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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2 comments
Dave says March 30, 2018

Another excellent blog post, Scott. Thanks. My best compliment would be, having read your blog post I have no need to wade through the report. Cheers, Dave

Reply
    Scott Guthrie says March 30, 2018

    Thank you Dave! The video is worth a watch. Great use of data this year with the ONS inclusion. Beat, Scott

    Reply
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