PRCA Census: £15 billion UK industry on the march

PRCA Census: £15 billion UK industry on the march

The PRCA Census is a must-read benchmarking exercise of the public relations industry in the UK. There’s much to celebrate but also some disappointing news.

Public relations in the UK is worth almost £15 billion per year and employs 95,000 people. It has grown 8% in the past 12 months. But growth has come at cost.

Overworked and underpaid

Salaries have been deflated by an average of 8.75% and are down in all areas of the market including freelance, agency and in-house.

The PRCA cites scaling effects as the primary reason for wage deflation. Growth is being driven by new jobs being created at lower levels of the profession.

“We attribute [the reduction in salaries] to expansion mainly happening at junior levels and to senior levels of remuneration not keeping pace,” said Francis Ingham, Director General, PRCA.

There’s also a cost to the workload and mental health of practitioners.

Half of the UK PR workforce works more than ten hours extra per week and one in three people working in public relations have experienced mental health issues.

The survey reports that the industry is moving quickly to address these issues through employee wellbeing and mental health initiatives.

Measurement, stupid

My view is that the industry’s Achilles heel is its failure to prove the value that it delivers. PRCA Census respondents report their evaluation methods as follows.

  • 25% don't measure

  • 16% impressions

  • 7% AVEs

You can do the sums for yourself. At least half of the industry isn't accountable to business or organisational objectives, but the good news is that the numbers are all down on last year.

If you're not aligning what you do with the objectives of your organisation your remuneration will never be proportionate.

Here come the robots

Richard Bagnall, chairman, AMEC, and CEO, Carma goes further.

“Not only will the remuneration never align, but those roles won't exist in the next few years either,” he said.

Bagnall’s comment is an acknowledgement of the impact of automation on workflow in public relations. Technology helps practitioners work more effectively and eliminates administration.

In the future more work could be delivered at lower cost using automation.

“Inefficient work distorts the value assigned to it and it’s likely that this distortion constrains remuneration,” added David Gallagher, President, Omnicom PR.

The PRCA Census also spotlights issues of gender pay, diversity and social mobility, as well as regional differences in the UK.

My thanks to Francis Ingham and the PRCA team for continuing to push the industry forward. It’s characterisation and analysis isn’t always easy reading but it always lands us in a better place.

Reporting to the UK regions

The PRCA is touring the UK over the next month to share its analysis and regional breakdowns. It kicked off in London tonight with the following dates to come.

  • Edinburgh - 8th May

  • Manchester - 9th May

  • Bristol - 14th May

  • Birmingham - 15th May

  • Cardiff - 21st May

  • Belfast - 6th June

Head to the PRCA website to book your slot. A free summary and copy of the 40-page 2019 PRCA Census can be downloaded from the PRCA website.

PRCA Census methodology

The PRCA Census is based on the results from an online survey of PRCA members and respondents to a survey shared on the PRCA website.

The online survey generated 1,236 respondents between 7 January and 20 March 2019.

Market data was calculated from a combination of data from the 2018 Census, annual PRCA benchmarking studies, and the UK Governments Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

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