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Salaries in PR

For those getting pay rises, the average salary increase for PROs in the last year was 6% according to the Annual Salary Guide 2019 from executive search specialists The Works Search. However, there has been little movement in average salary brackets across all levels, in both in-house corporate comms companies and agencies. Discussing why salaries are staying the same, managing director at The Works Search Sarah Leembruggen, says: “This stagnation may well be a symptom of Brexit and the uncertain times we live in now; however, we continue to see large corporates investing in building their communications teams, readily replacing vacancies, and the corporate agencies seem to be thriving although they continue to grumble about tight margins.”

For the first time in ten years of publishing its salary guide, The Works Search reported that more agency professionals received a salary increase.

Key findings

  • 83% of agency PROs got a pay rise compared with 76% of in-house professionals.
  • Agency professionals received larger increases – 26% receiving a 5-10% increase, compared with 11% of in-house professionals; 13% receiving a 10-20% increase, compared with 11% of those working in-house.


are more agile when it comes to progressing staff, as there are more

layers of progression and opportunities to move up, which could account

for the healthy quantity of agency pay increases,” concludes Leembruggen.


The average bonus for in-house employees is 19%, which is 1% down on the previous year; in agencies the average bonus is 14%, which has crept up 2%, so again, agencies are faring better.

Leembruggen comments: “Agencies are clearly trying hard to reward and retain their employees. Bonuses are paid out when companies are making a profit, indicating that agencies continue to evolve and fare well in this market. It’s long been thought that ‘the grass is greener’ in-house when it comes to salaries and bonuses, but perhaps this is no longer the case,”

In-house salaries, bonuses & benefits

Agency salaries, bonuses & benefits

In-house vs agency

Despite the pay benefits of working for an agency, the desire for in-house remains strong. The survey found that 70% of professionals want to be in-house if they move jobs; only 14% would consider moving to an agency, and in-house roles come with better company benefits and pensions. This may be one reason why agencies are making more of an effort to reward and retain their staff, rather than lose them to in-house communications teams.


The Works Search checked 1,139 database records of corporate communications professionals from across the industry to gather data on salaries and bonuses. It also polled 228 corporate communications professionals to share insights and opinions on their pay, company benefits, pension contributions, and flexible working options on offer.

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