The last few years have not been easy, and many PROs have come out of their annual reviews no better off. In such a climate, having a career in PR, no matter how ill-paid, is better than the alternative.
Sean Trainor, chair of the CIPR Inside Group says this makes it hard to ask for a raise: “It's a daunting ask at the best of times, but it is even more difficult in an economic climate where we are compelled to feel we are lucky to have any income at all.” However, Trainor says that there is an argument that those who help protect, enhance and develop brands in difficult markets should reap more rewards. Although there is no point asking for more if there is nothing in the coffers, as Trainor says: “Timing is all and perhaps it would be wise to wait for visible signs of the green shoots before building your case.”
If you can see that business is picking up, Richard Ellis, PRCA communications director, agrees that now could be a good time to ask for a pay rise, but only as long as you are confident you deserve one: ”The PR industry, having seen extensive redundancies and widespread wage freezes, is now looking at the prospect of wage spiral again. Employers will be playing a careful balance between keeping their best people and keeping their costs reasonable in an uncertain market. It’s a good time to ask but, as ever, you need to prove your value.”
Once you have decided it’s time to ask for an increase, the question is how much? Becky McMichael, head of strategy and innovation at PR agency Ruder Finn, says that it is a mistake to be overly concerned about the amount peers are earning and when they last got a pay rise. It is important to focus on your own efforts:
“When undertaking any sort of negotiation, make a clear list of what you have done since your last rise that has benefited the business financially. Think laterally too, it may be more in terms of contacts/networking than hard cash. Also look at the difference you make to the business from a personal point of view. Are you a key blogger on the company site? Do you take a role in organising socials? What do you do over and above the job spec?”
One tactic for demanding a raise is to find another job first, and then threaten to leave. This can easily backfire and you may have to accept a position you were only using as a negotiation tool. And never threaten to leave if you don’t have another job lined up, as Neil Boom, PR director of news navigator OneNewsPage.com jokes: “This is not a great tactic if you are crap at your job, or you are unpopular with no friends!”
Top tips for asking for a PR Jobs pay rise:
1. The first step is to set up a meeting. If your request is refused in the short term, then ask for a date to be put in the diary within the next few months.
2. Find out what you are worth. Research job advertisements and take in some documentation to prove what the going rate is.
3. Write a list of your achievements and the benefits you bring the firm. Don’t forget to mention less obvious attributes, such as how many followers you have on Twitter. Again, collect documentation to reinforce your points.
4. If you are struggling financially this does not mean your employer should pay you more. So keep quiet about personal finances.
5. Set a clear timeframe as to when you will have an answer, don’t be fobbed off.
6. Practise saying out loud what you want. You might have it all written down on paper, but saying it face-to-face is far more daunting. If you practise speaking the words, for example, “I am confident I deserve a salary of £x”, you are more likely to say them with authority.
7. If the answer is “no”, then set a time for when your request will be reconsidered.
8. If you are offered less than you asked for, don’t accept straightaway as it could be a while before you discuss your salary again. Ask for time to consider the offer. This gives you a chance work out if it is realistic to continue asking for more money, or decide other benefits that you would be prepared to accept. These can range from share options to more flexible hours.
Written by Daney Parker
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