PR Census Reveals Healthy UK PR Industry Amid Complex Challenges
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Holmes Report
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PR Census Reveals Healthy UK PR Industry Amid Complex Challenges

The PR Census paints a complex picture of life in the UK PR industry, but a largely healthy one with great prospects for further growth.

Holmes Report

This week, the PRCA launched the PR Census 2013, the most authoritative guide to the UK PR industry.

The PR Census is based on a survey of over 1,500 PR people, alongside historical data from the previous PRCA survey published in 2011; our own benchmarking studies and the UK government’s Office of National Statistics tables have also been consulted as part of the assessment.

The Census has revealed that the UK PR industry has grown by £2bn in two years, to £9.62billion.

Great news, although it is intriguing to note that the industry has grown by just 400 people in the same period. Clearly the industry has been working extremely hard, for this huge growth in turnover to be made possible with only a small increase in staff.

This is evinced throughout the PR Census - the fact that the industry is now working over ten hours of overtime every week – over an hour more than in 2011. 54% of PR people are now handling out-of-hours calls and emails on a daily basis, compared to 35% in 2011.

The diversification into lucrative new skills such as digital is another probable source of this new revenue – digital, online communication and search engine optimisation are all noted as the top new skills that have emerged over the past two years.

There is a predominance of PR firms with turnovers of between £1m and £5m, and between 11-25 staff. However, it’s interesting to note that there has been substantial growth of agencies with £5m-plus turnover and 50-plus staff members. The consolidation of the PR agency is happening at a fast pace, and the ‘long tail’ of the agency world is shrinking.

The average PR professional earns £5.5k more than he or she did two years ago, although it is rather concerning to note that it’s the agency bosses who seem to be netting much of that inflation. Board directors and partners of PR agencies have gained nearly £30,000 in two years, while at the lowest end of the scale, the average account executive is earning £50 less.

It is an industry largely populated by young white females – and it is disappointing to note that there has been no improvement in diversity since 2011, despite the best efforts of industry bodies such as mine to open up the routes of access to the PR industry with schemes such as the PR Apprenticeship. And senior positions continue to be held by men – twice as many men than women are board directors or partners in PR firms.

But what’s most intriguing are the levels of confidence in the UK industry. Agency staffers are most confident of PR’s position as part of the marketing mix, and the credibility of PR. Meanwhile, in-house teams are far more likely to note a lack of confidence in PR within their organisation, and within the wider world of marketing.

The PR Census paints a complex picture of life in the UK PR industry, but a largely healthy one with great prospects for further growth.

Francis Ingham is director general of the PRCA.

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