Do you fit the happiest or unhappiest PR pro profile?

The happiest UK public relations professional is most likely to be a man, over the age of 60, working as an Independent Practitioner and based in the Midlands or East of England.

state of PRThe unhappiest is most likely to be a woman, aged 35 to 44, working as a Head of Communications in-house in the public sector, based in London.

Is this you? Is this accurate? I’d love to know whether you agree with this – feel free to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.

Let me ask you this – regardless of whether you’re happy in your role, what skills do you need to get hired?

You’re in the right place to find out.

This information and much more has been released by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) today as part of its annual State of the Profession report #StateofPR.

It covers the trends, issues, opportunities and challenges facing the business of public relations as revealed by research conducted with over 2,000 PR pros, myself included.

Levels of stress

workplace stress

The research shows dangerously high levels of workplace stress are common for those in senior management, with 51% of senior managers in PR saying they are “extremely stressed” or “very stressed” in their roles. However, 63% of PR professionals enjoy their job. (Tweet this)

As employers find ways to address happiness and wellbeing in the workplace, the results show that 70% of public relations professionals work in organisations that promote a flexible working culture. (Tweet this)

Whilst this may appear relatively high to some, in the private sector (both in-house and consultancies), the results indicate much more needs to be done to make flexible working a reality.

This year’s research analysed some new areas for the first time including ‘Educational background’ of PR practitioners, ‘Happiness & wellbeing’, and an in-depth analysis of ‘Gender balance & equal pay’.

It also covered ‘Skills & competencies’, ‘Salaries’, ‘Diversity’, ‘Budgets’, ‘Public relations strategy & the board’, ‘Hallmarks of professionalism’, ‘The changing nature of public relations’, and ‘Future challenges’.

The State of the Profession is a chunky report at 31 pages, but well worth a read.

The key findings include:

experience in roleInter-departmental convergence is a clear and growing trend
All in-house PR professionals are now working “more closely” than “less closely” with every single department in their organisations (marketing, sales, IT, HR etc.), than compared to two years ago (Tweet this)

The competencies in-demand from junior and senior hires remain focused on traditional PR skills over digital/technical skills
64% of all PR professionals identify traditional PR skills (written communication, interpersonal skills etc.) as key competencies when hiring junior and senior candidates, this is compared to 20% who identify digital/technical PR skills (SEO, HTML and coding, etc.) as key competencies (Tweet this)

A digital skills gap between young and old is exacerbated by recruitment trends
Digital and social skills fail to feature in any of the top five lists of competencies sought by professionals across all sectors (in-house, consultancy etc.) looking to hire senior candidates, whereas this precise skill set is the third most in-demand for junior roles (Tweet this)

Professional standards are a work in progress
96% of practitioners say professionalism is important to them, yet 55% of PR professionals believe “satisfying clients/employers” define professional standards, and 79% of PR professionals believe “experience in a PR role” is a professional’s most valuable asset (Tweet this)

Equal pay has been scrutinised in a unique level of detail
A clear pay inequality gap (note: this is different from a mean gender pay gap) of £8,483 exists in favour of men, and is a figure that cannot be explained by any other factor such as length of service, seniority, parenthood, or a higher prevalence of part-time work amongst women. (Tweet this)

Findings also reveal the biggest influences on the salaries of all public relations professionals; with gender identified as the third biggest influence on salary, more so than education background, sector of practice, graduate status, and full-time/part-time status.

How much do people get paid?

SalaryThe average pay for public relations professionals is £46,629. Consultancy professionals command the industry’s highest wages with salaries averaging £51,000 per year. The average mean salary of an in-house private sector professional is £48,000, followed closely by the in-house not-for-profit/NGO sector averaging at £47,000.

Independent practitioners take home an average income of £42,000, whilst in-house public sector employees pocket an average of £40,000 per year.

The skills to get you hired

There are so many areas I could highlight, but one I think is interesting looked at the skills needed to get you hired. The section on professionalism is also one to note, so I’ve embedded an infographic at the end of this article so you can see those results at a glance.

So what skills do you need to be hired?
In-house and consultancy professionals responsible for hiring new employees were asked to identify which skills and competencies they looked out for in new recruits. They were asked to select from a list of competencies and indicate which skills were most relevant for junior roles and which were needed most for senior roles.

The results show that traditional written communication skills and interpersonal skills are considered the
key competencies for both junior and senior practitioners, whilst recruiters’ appetite for other skills depended largely on whether a senior or junior candidate was being sought.

The top five most desired competencies sought when hiring junior candidates:

  • Written communication skills – traditional 76%
  • Interpersonal skills 71%
  • Social/digital skills 68%
  • Oral communication skills 6%
  • Attention to detail 67%

The top five least desired competencies sought when hiring junior candidates:

  • Budgeting and financial planning 3%
  • HTML and coding 3%
  • Strategic management 4%
  • Behavioural psychology 5%
  • Quantitive data analysis 5%

The top five most desired competencies sought when hiring senior candidates:

  • Leadership and management skills 73%
  • Strategic management 70%
  • Interpersonal skills 66%
  • Organisational skills 65%
  • Written communication skills – traditional 64%

The top five least desired competencies sought when hiring senior candidates:

  • HTML and coding 1%
  • Photo/video editing 4%
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO) 6%
  • Behavioural psychology 14%
  • Quantitive data analysis 17%

Job satisfaction

63%Respondents were asked to gauge job satisfaction using a 1-5 scale. Responses show that 63% of PR professionals enjoy their job with 22% stating that they ‘greatly enjoy [their] job’. 27% appear to be undecided on their level of job satisfaction(!) and only 10% of all respondents appear to dislike their job.

There is very little gender difference in terms of job enjoyment, but there is a substantial regional difference; 57% of those based in London enjoy their job compared to 66% of those outside of London, with 72% of those who work outside of the UK saying that they enjoy their job.

Respondents also tended to enjoy their job more the older they got, with 77% of over 60’s responding that they enjoyed their job and none said that they ‘greatly dislike [their] job’.

This is in comparison to 62% of 18-24s and 60% of 25-34s who said that they enjoy their job.

A promising future

Sarah Pinch Commenting on the full report, Sarah Pinch FCIPR, CIPR President 2015 said: “This year’s results point to a promising future for our practice, but also deliver some findings that make tough reading. As an industry we have to become better equipped and more confident in order to embrace the additional opportunities and challenges that are coming our way.

“This means we must be clear what a professional public relations practitioner is. Professionalism is about standards, quality, ethical working and assurance of our work to employers, employees, colleagues and clients. It is not about being paid well or popular, described in the report as ‘satisfying clients and/or employers’.

“To be considered at all professional, we must also tackle equal pay head on, which is an embarrassment to an industry dominated by women. Fulfilling our own professional ambitions will be no easy task, so we must consider these findings as a call to action. I have confidence that we will use this insight to deliver a better, stronger, fairer and more confident profession.”

What do I think?

I welcome this report as a detailed snapshot into the working lives of PR professionals. I’ve written countless times about professionalising comms and the importance I place on professional development.

That’s why I complete my CIPR Continuing Professional Development (CPD) every year to maintain my Accredited Practitioner status and participate in the CIPR Inside committee and on the CIPR Social Media Panel. (I’m currently on maternity leave from these voluntary roles until later this year, but was honoured to be named as a Fellow of the CIPR recently).

Adopting the rigour of a profession and embracing recognisable professional standards is an ideal position to be in. But we’re not there yet.

I think there’s much to be done to not only have standards which reflect the realities of life as a practitioner, but to encourage people to embrace them too.

Blurred lines
The blurring of lines and fact practitioners are working with every department doesn’t surprise me. I think to work effectively as an internal communicator, particularly in-house, you need to have strong working relationships across your organisation.

Your influencing, persuading and negotiating skills need to be sharp – no longer can the comms team work in their own silo. You shouldn’t be doing that anyway, but I see and hear of it so often.

The time to remove egos is here. It’s not about the work that you want to do, but what’s right for your organisation. Be honest with yourself, your team and your organisation. You’re the eyes and ears, but conscience too. (Tweet this)

A phrase I’m often quoted as saying is: “It’s about content curation, not creation” – this is critical to bear in mind when working with other departments.

I could write a whole fresh post of this topic, and maybe I will soon, but for now, I’ll leave you with two infographics with further State of the Profession results, and thank you as ever for stopping by,



Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on All Things IC blog 24 February 2015.


  1. Interesting study – thanks for highlighting.

    It is interesting that I reflect the general trend in that I am far happier being independent as opposed to working in house!

  2. Hi Kevin, thanks for your comment. Good to hear you’re happy. I know lots of happy in-house pros, but certainly found the results interesting too, Rachel

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