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What is the best UK city to work in PR?

London might seem like an obvious answer for those looking to start, grow, or take their careers in PR to the next level. But as the costs of living in the capital are ever-rising, and in an age of remote working, is it time to rethink PR’s capital city in the UK?

To find out, we have asked nine PR professionals to weigh in on the best UK city for working in PR in 2024.

London still has the most PR head offices in the UK

Sarah Mulder, co-founder at PR agency Fire on the Hill: “London has always been and continues to be the top city in the UK for PR. It is the media, technology, and financial centre of the country and the natural meeting place for overseas colleagues.

“Yes, there are other cities boasting great innovation, such as Manchester and Bristol, however, as our New York colleagues say, bigger is better, and the UK capital simply has more team leaders and head offices based here than any other. Not to mention (mostly) efficient public transport.

“Even in the present era of ‘work from anywhere’ and video calls, I'd bet my bottom dollar most people will agree that meeting in-person with relevant decision makers is unmatched by an online meeting. Which is easy to coordinate London and be back at your desk in record time to get on with the rest of the day.”

Consider looking outside London to begin your career

Holly Fairclough, senior account director at PR agency Words+Pixels: “For a lot of reasons London is the best city to be in for PR. Whether it's bigger brands looking to the capital, or the fact the streets are oozing with exceptional creatives and industry leaders.

“That being said, Cardiff was the city that laid the foundation for my career and understanding of the full spectrum of comms, and without that I wouldn't be where I am today. The good thing about being in a regional agency is that you're often exposed to a range of different disciplines very early on in your career.

“This can set you up to build a beautiful path for yourself, either in or outside of London.”

Bristol has a wealth of opportunities

Niki Goddard, founder of PR agency Attune: “Universally ranked as a top five hub in the UK for the tech and creative sectors, as well as one of the best places to start a new business, Bristol offers huge opportunities for ambitious PR professionals.

“There are an abundance of thriving agencies, taking advantage of the incredible local ecosystem as well as organisations of every shape and size. Third sector, femtech, FMCG - you name it, we're innovating it. Which means there are plenty of great in-house roles with scope to do incredible global work - Bristol has some big names calling it home.

“There is also a truly supportive and inviting freelance community that is quick to offer guidance for anyone new to freelancing or to the area. With a wealth of opportunity, really great people and a lot of ex-Londoners also seeking a better work-life balance, there isn’t anywhere better to work in PR, in my opinion.”

Manchester’s media scene is vibrant and still growing

Hannah Craig, head of PHA North at PR agency The PHA Group: "Manchester is one of many northern cities that are great for working in PR. The most obvious reason being its vibrant media scene. A strong regional media network, combined with Media City also providing inroads to major national broadcast outlets like the BBC and ITV.

“It is home to a diverse business community; from innovative start-ups to multinational corporations, there’s numerous opportunities to work across different sectors and understand the different comms styles required for each.

“Another, sometimes overlooked, reason that makes Manchester great for PR is the creativity that flows through the city. Whether it’s creative ideation, development, design, advertising and indeed, PR - there’s a huge talent pool of creative individuals to learn and be inspired by.”

It’s an exciting time for PR in the North

Emma Streets, associate director at PR agency Tigerbond: "The Northern PR scene has always been dynamic. After 20 years based in Leeds, although working within agencies that were also headed up out of London and Oxford, I've seen firsthand the peaks and troughs of the Yorkshire PR landscape in particular.

“Leeds remains a talent hub with the ever-popular PR courses available at Leeds Beckett generating industry newcomers who are always an asset for entry-level roles. However, Manchester undeniably receives a lot of air time now, given its media city status, and this is providing opportunities to really get creative and level up the agency scene across both sides of the Pennines - it's an exciting time to be up North!"

London is still the top, but it is not the only option

Christian Cerisola, independent PR and communications consultant: "As a resident of Newcastle upon Tyne, it's through gritted teeth that I say the best city to work in PR remains London, followed by Manchester.

“Despite everything that's happened in the world in the last few years, there remains an enormous gravitational pull towards the capital. Forget what the Government may or may not be doing, but it'll take several more generations for the economy, or PR in particular, to 'level up' and identify that talent exists everywhere across the UK.

"Manchester is second because it did an enviously brilliant job 15 years ago of branding itself as 'The North' in the eyes of everyone inside the M25. As such, if and when any attention does drift outside of W1, it invariably gravitates that way."

Birmingham is a great place to start and grow

Lance Honeghan, content and marketing executive at PR agency Avid Panda: "If you are starting or growing a career in PR, you do not have to resign yourself to working in London. Birmingham allows you to enjoy city living without the price tag.

“Plus, Birmingham has a blossoming cultural scene, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to network with other media professionals or simply keep yourself entertained outside of work. Not to mention, Birmingham has great transport links making it easy to travel to other large cities like London and Manchester."

Even in the age of remote work, London reigns supreme

Abi Bennetts, digital PR director at PR agency Propellernet: “I work at a Brighton-based digital PR agency, but live in London and work remotely, visiting the Brighton office a couple of times a month to spend time with colleagues.

“Whilst I love getting my seaside fix in Brighton, I don’t think London can be beaten as the best city to work in for PRs. Though more journalists work remotely more than ever before, lots are still based in London, making it much easier to meet for coffees and journalist networking.

“Similarly, many PR and journalist events in the industry are also held in the city, making it really easy for me to meet other PRs in the industry and attend insightful events and journalist panels. Finally, lots of our clients are also based in London, meaning it’s really easy for me to get client face to face time, without having to travel very far.”

London offers PR newbies more options

Natalie Trice, PR author, coach and mentor: “While I live in Devon, I still think that if you want to work on PR, especially when you are starting out, London is where it’s at, and I still wish I had taken a NYC secondment offered to me in my late twenties.

“Yes, cities like Manchester, Leeds and Bristol are fast becoming comms hubs, but the majority of opportunities are in the capital. Major agency HQs, as well as emerging start-ups are often found in London and this is often where a lot of the networking happens, however this is getting better once you move outside of the M25.

“We can work, as an industry, to build the PR infrastructure outwards but the reality is at the moment the concentration of jobs are in London, and while the cost of living is higher, it’s still where I would begin if I was at the start of my career. You can also look at the long term, just because you are in London now, you can branch out in the future but think about where you want to be in one, three or five years and how you will get there.”

Whilst it’s hard to argue with the benefits of working in London, boasting the highest concentration of PR agencies and acting as a central hub for face to face meetings, it is certainly not the only option, no matter the stage of your PR career.

Whether the growing media scenes of the North, like the ever-rising cities of Manchester and Leeds, in the Midlands in cities like Birmingham, or out West in Bristol, there are many vibrant options for those looking to start, grow, or make a change in their PR careers.

London might provide unparalleled opportunities, but those come at an unparalleled cost. Now might be a better time than ever to start looking outside the confines of the M25.

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