Learn to write and you’ll have a job for life

Learn to write and you’ll have a job for life

The CIPR State of Profession survey suggests that basic skills are more important than ever and that we need to grasp the opportunity for management potential.

Copywriting and editing are tasks most commonly undertaken by 57% of people working in public relations. It’s a statistic buried within the CIPR State of the Profession report for 2019.

The numbers are consistent at all levels of practice. Writing and editing are the most common task for 73% of junior roles and 50% of senior roles.

Writing is an important and often underappreciated skill in business. We’re taught to write at school and are educated to a basic level of proficiency. We all have a view of what good looks like, but few achieve mastery.

The CIPR data shows that if you can write well you’ll likely have a job for life.

Strategic ambitions a work in progress

The drumbeat of public relations as a management discipline has grown louder and louder in recent years.

Practitioners seek to assert their place in the boardroom. It was cited as the second biggest challenge in the CIPR survey after the changing digital landscape. However there’s a significant gap between aspiration and reality.

Four percent of senior in-house practitioner are directly responsible for the strategy of their organisation. Less than 1 in 10 respondents in senior roles are executive members of a board.

Craft rather than technical or management skills account for the most popular skills in public relations at all levels.

In junior roles media relations (58%) and social media relations (45%) make up the top three most commonly undertaken tasks after writing. In senior roles media relations and campaigns are equal second (48%).

Employer skills gap

There remains a notable difference, particularly at a senior level, between the skills that employers seek and the capabilities of practitioners.

At a junior practitioner level, recruiters value technical and digital; research and evaluation; and project and account management skills. Practitioners don’t identify these as strengths.

At a senior level a gap exists is areas such as research, evaluation and measurement; corporate governance; and people management.

There’s an indication that practitioners recognise their weakness. Failing to be recognised as a profession and an expanding skillset were ranked third and fourth as challenges facing the industry.

The rewards are clear for practitioners with ambition and a commitment to continuous learning.

Average salaries amongst full-time employees grew by almost £1,500 to £53,044 per year in 2018. Chartered Practitioners earn an average of £18,000 more per year than the average respondent, while those with a professional qualification earn an average £3,800 more.

The CIPR State of the Profession report is a downbeat assessment of the public relations profession. It calls out diversity, gender pay and mental health as issues that the professional is failing to address in a meaningful way.

Research agency Chalkstream surveyed 1,503 respondents in November and December 2018.

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