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What state is the PR profession in?

What state is the PR profession in? This week I read through a report that the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has just published on exactly that – “The Annual State of the PR Profession”. I think it was a mixed bag of results and it was good to have insight into board level representation for the first time.

How did it work?
ComRes surveyed almost 2000 CIPR members in 2009 and the key finding was that “while the professions has remained resilient, economic pressures continue to bite with almost half of in-house public sector respondents worried about redundancy”.

Those results will come as no surprise to anyone in comms/PR and particularly in the public sector. However what I think is interesting is the report revealed that 22% of practitioners surveyed hold a board position and 35% who aren’t on the board say there is a communications professional on the board. Hurrah! I think this is really encouraging and would hope that these figures continue to rise as more organisations see the value in communication and give it a seat at the big table.

Compared to last year’s findings, there were similar results for the gender split in communications/PR, with 65% female practitioners compared to 35% male. The report showed that men are more likely to hold a senior management or Director position than female practitioners however overall there were more women in the sample than men (the ratio was almost 2:1). The CIPR say that once they surveyed the higher levels of responsibility, eg Director and Senior Management, that difference has largely disappeared, with the proportions of men at Director level double that of women at Director level (18% of men in sample compared to 9% of women). As there are more women in the sample overall the absolute numbers are similar.

Expected areas of growth were identified as:
• online reputation management
• crisis management
• internal communications.

These areas are understandable due to the need for organisations to communicate and engage in difficult times. Comms practitioners who completed the survey said that event management and sponsorship were under ‘downward pressure’. With all of the cuts across the board for comms professionals those results were to be expected and I wonder whether they will creep up again in the future.

What is it worth?
Pay is always a tricky subject, with people seemingly performing similar roles in different organisations varying wildly. I know this was a hot topic of conversation among my peers at Kingston Uni’s post-grad in Internal Comms Management course last year. The CIPR survey showed that 34%, 39% and 35% of private sector, consultancy and freelance practitioners earn a salary in excess of £50k. This contrasts with 19% in the public sector and 20% in not for profit or NGO.

I welcome research like this, it’s useful to have insight into what professionals say is important to them and how they are being treated, recognised (and paid!). Want to read more? You can see the full results and research on the CIPR Research and Reports page.

Post author: Rachel

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