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2022 State of the Public Relations Profession

An increase in working hours, impact on mental health, and career moves are familiar findings for many in the 2022 State of the Profession Report published this week by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

Each year, the CIPR survey collects insights from PR professionals (883 in 2022) to understand our profession’s latest trends and challenges.

We’ve read through this year’s report and highlighted the areas we think internal communicators will find useful.

All of the images in this article link through to the CIPR website, where you can read the State of the Profession 2022 report in full.

CIPR State of the Sector 2022. Blog post by Dan Holden

Findings from the report include:

  • PR teams across the industry are experiencing significant growth. 72% of those in recruiting positions in agencies saying they are in the process of hiring.
  • More than half of those in recruiting positions say they are struggling to fill vacancies citing the low number of applicants with the required skills.
  • Increased workload means over half of practitioners say they are working more hours than they are paid.
  • A third of practitioners say they are likely to look for a new job in the next six months.
  • The PR industry’s gender pay gap has risen following years of it shrinking.

What do the findings mean for internal communication?

Wellbeing and working hours

Mental health was identified as the biggest challenge facing practitioners for the second year running. With 48% of respondents reporting an increase in working hours over the last six months and the pressures internal comms professionals have faced during the pandemic, it’s perhaps no surprise to see this result. 31% of respondents also supported this, who said unmanageable workload / poor work-life balance was the second-highest dislike of their current role.

More worryingly, 46% of respondents reported that mental health within our profession would remain the top challenge, and 29% are also worried about longer working hours.

2022 State of the Profession. Table showing main challenges facing PR 2017 to 2022

Sadly, this has been a trend since the start of the pandemic which the CIPR and the Public Relations Communications Association (PRCA) researched in 2021 in their joint report.

Many comms friends I’ve spoken to have struggled to keep up during the pandemic with the everchanging Government rules and advice that then has a ripple effect on the way of workings for organisations.

What’s going to be essential for us now is to restore, or perhaps introduce for ourselves, a good work-life balance.

We’ve spent a large amount of our time helping colleagues by being a trusted source of knowledge and information, including wellbeing topics. Still, we need to also listen to this advice ourselves. We can’t run on empty!

Is there a ‘great resignation’ in the profession?

I’ve seen many posts on social media in the last 12 months about ‘the great resignation’, and the report highlights that this perhaps isn’t the case for our profession.

Only 17% of PR professionals changed jobs in the last six months, and just 35% stated they are somewhat or very likely to change in the next six months.

Rachel published a Candid Comms podcast episode about this topic in January 2022: What IC pros need to know about the great resignation.

2022 State of the Profession. Graph showing whether people have changed jobs in past 12 months.

The top two reasons PR practitioners change roles are growth and career progression, followed by seeking a new challenge.

Part of me feels encouraged by this. It shows a willingness by individuals to focus on their Continued Professional Development (CPD) and identify when it’s the right time to find a new role. Often this isn’t an easy decision, especially if you are looking to leave an organisation.

Interestingly, there wasn’t much difference across most seniority levels, 39% for Managers and then 50% for Assistant/Executive positions. When you then read that 76% of respondents would feel confident in getting a new job if they tried, it gives confidence that we recognise the value we bring to organisations as a profession.

2022 State of the Profession. Table showing top five reasons why people changed jobs

Where is internal communication on the priority list?

I had a look at the PR in a Pandemic report, 2022/2021 results to see where internal communications sat in terms of the PR activities undertaken by respondents.

Not surprisingly, it has increased from 46% to 54%. I was expecting this to have been a little higher, but it’s still encouraging that our profession is becoming more and more an equal to other PR activities.

2022 State of the Profession. Table showing PR activities commonly undertaken in role

 

It’s also good to see that the reputation of PR has also increased within organisations, with 51% of respondents reporting an increase.

This can only be a good thing for us as communication professionals and is something we need to maximise with our stakeholders so we continue to have a voice where it matters.

On the other side of the coin, we need to consider that 25% of respondents felt organisations still don’t see PR as a professional discipline. It’s essential.

Therefore we keep championing the outstanding work we do, something the joint report by the Chartered Institute of Marketing and CIPR highlighted in their recent research into the value of Chartership.

Further reading: Why becoming Chartered is good for business.

What we can all continue to do

One aspect of the report that stood out for me was the demographics of who we are as a profession.

Looking at levels of seniority, the two senior categories, Head of Communications and Directors, make up 21% and 24% of respondents yet, have more significant numbers of men in posts, even though women make up a more substantial proportion of our profession (32% Male vs 67% Female).

2022 State of the Profession. Graph showing seniority and gender split in PR profession

There is also much work still to do in how we encourage and promote the profession across all ethnic groups, as 89% of respondents recorded as White. We need to push more to remove the barriers and see a more diverse range of professionals enter our profession.

The partnerships between PR membership bodies and organisations such as The Taylor Bennett Foundation, Media Trust and The Xec are steps in the right direction. Still, we as individuals need to be more aware and take action in our organisations and roles.

Check out the entire State of the Profession 2022 report.

You can also compare it to the previous reports produced by the CIPR and past articles on the All Things IC blog.

Post author: Dan Holden.

First published on the All Things IC blog 6 June 2022.

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