Why salaries are falling in PR according to PRCA’s Francis Ingham

There were three standout numbers from the PRCA PR and Communications Census 2019. That the industry comprises 95,000 practitioners; that it is worth £14.9 billion; and that average incomes fell by 7%. Average agency salaries are down by £3,000; in-house ones down by the same amount; and freelancer income down by a thousand pounds.

Why?

Salary freefall
We have no further detailed numbers to help us understand why. But the fact that incomes have fallen in all three categories of engagement; and that those same numbers have been falling over each recent census convince me that they are correct. My best explanation would be that we are replacing people at lower prices than we are losing them; and that as the industry grows, it is hiring more people at entry levels, thus reducing average salaries.

Should this worry us? Maybe yes.

Salaries

No pay cuts
Sure, people aren’t taking pay cuts (in fact more industry incumbents received a pay rise last year than the year before); but if our industry is to attract the best, and to move its offering from the tactical to the strategic, I'm not sure that hiring increasing numbers of relatively poorly paid people is the answer.

There was good news on the gender pay gap, down from 21% to 14%. Much more to do, but progress being made. Within that overall number though lie differences. The gap is almost double for agencies what it is for in-house teams. Why?

Work-life balance
The only sensible answer can be this: there is a better work-life balance at senior levels at in-house teams than at agencies – 25% of agency MDs say that they work in excess of 60 hours a week, compared with 8% of in-house directors.

I imagine this quite simply makes a lot of working mothers move from agency to in-house roles. For both agency and in-hours practitioners groups though – and indeed for both men and women, parents and those without children – this crushing hours burden needs to change.

Article written by PRCA’s Francis Ingham