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How women in PR are helping to close the digital skills gap

The digital skills gap in PR agencies and in-house is not helped by the competition for talent from specialist digital agencies. However, the Women in Digital report from digital marketing recruitment company The Candidate, shows that as women move into digital roles in PR, this helps to redress the imbalance in women and men’s salaries in the industry, as well as helping to fill the skills gap

Brian Matthews, co-founder at The Candidate, discusses why the PR sector is “crying out“ for people with digital skills: “PR successes have gone beyond traditional off-line publications, and online content that contains links to client websites is becoming a huge focus. These days, a blend of account management, networking skills, and digital know-how are needed to impress clients and offer a multichannel digital PR approach.”

Matthews says a problem for the PR sector is that it has to compete with digital marketing agencies as well as eCommerce companies, who are a more obvious career choice for digital marketing practitioners. Matthews describes why this may be good news for women in PR: “Our study has shown that this might be a bonus for women working in the digital sector, though. Of the 2,271 women that we surveyed working in the digital industry, 27 per cent are currently in marketing and social media roles – making these the most popular jobs for women in digital. By incorporating digital into their skillset, these women can be even more valuable to both digital agencies and PR agencies, as training someone up with no PR, or indeed digital, skills, can be a time-consuming process.

Most popular job functions for women

Matthews highlights the need for better training in PR organisations though: “The transition from focusing on coverage and readership, to clicks, views, and transactions, is a balancing act and something that the education system needs to provide support for.

Although the research suggests how women can help fill digital roles, Matthews points out that everyone should think about how their digital skills can be improved: “An approach that is appropriate for all is what is really required to see the PR industry, and the digital sector, flourish in the way that they should with the thriving, fast-paced reputation that they have.”

The report also highlights that women have some way to go when it comes to earning the same as men, although their move into digital can help even things up. Men tend to demand higher salaries, so it is up to women to also request higher salaries to make things fairer. Matthews says: “The wage gap within the digital industry is closing and whilst, at 9%, it is 0.4% less than the national average, there is still a way to go until gender equality is reached. More positively, although the report showed that more men are paid in a higher salary bracket, an attributing factor to this is the rise in women moving into the digital industry on entry-level salaries. This is extremely promising – the rise of women entering the sector can only be a positive step."


The Candidate study looked at 150 digital agencies across the North, and 2,271 women within the digital sector. Click here to read the full report.

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