PR Salary Survey: Focus on Relevance, Flexibility

  Karen Bloom 

I’ve been a professional recruiter for, well let’s just say many years, and the one thing I can say about PR industry salaries is that regardless of the year, and regardless of the economy, salaries for junior- to mid-level pros have remained pretty consistent.  So, what’s so different about salaries and the hiring landscape for PR pros today as we emerge from this recession?

For starters, this recession is without doubt, deeper and harder hitting than any other I’ve experienced, and the PR sector was hit particularly hard.  We started to see an impact on PR as early as first quarter 2009, followed by a dramatic slowdown that continued through November.  When people got laid off, they started to establish themselves in alternative careers, often leaving the PR industry entirely.  While this represents a loss of critical talent for the industry, it also represents greater opportunity for those of you who’ve been able to stick with it.

So how are PR professionals adapting to slow and erratic hiring by agencies and corporations?  They’re being more flexible: considering lateral job movement; relocating; and in some cases, opting for a decrease in pay.  And this flexibility is critical against a backdrop of what many are referring to as “shaky optimism” as we emerge from the recession.  Projections are that we should start to see more momentum and a more robust return to hiring by the third quarter this year and into 2011. 

What else can you do to remain “relevant” while you’re searching for the right opportunity?  Engage.  Stay attached to the field through continued involvement in the organizations that help, like PRSA (Young Professionals Organization), IABC, the Publicity Club of Chicago and others whose links appear on this blog.

And what about those salaries?  We were pleased to once again sponsor the PRWeek Salary Survey which was just released.  Here are a few of the results you might find interesting:

  • The gap in salary levels by gender and experience remains
  •  Fewer respondents are willing to take a pay cut or salary freeze to ensure job security
  •  The percent of respondents whose salaries are equal to or less than it was a year ago is almost doubled

Included in the survey results is a breakdown of median salary by job title.  According to PRWeek the median salary for account coordinators is $35K, for account executives it is $40K with a senior account executive salary in the $52K median range.  The study also reported that the median salary for an agency account supervisor was around $65K while a PR/corporate communication manager median salary came in at $70K.  For more details on median salaries as well as statistics about job satisfaction, compensation and the gender gap, and willingness to relocate, please refer to the entire article.

What are your experiences this past year?  Please share your comments!

(Karen Bloom is a principal at Bloom, Gross & Associates, a Chicago-based boutique search firm that specializes in marketing and public relations positions).

5 comments on this post.
  1. Janet L. Falk:

    How would you compare these findings to Dennis Spring’s survey? http://www.springassociates.com/content/view/7/32/

  2. Culpwrit:

    Dennis Spring’s survey results are described in a news release on his webiste. Findings appear similar to the PRWeek/Bloom, Gross survey. A full copy of the Spring survey costs $395 so we can’t compare in detail.

  3. Lindsay:

    Thanks for the great information! And from a currently frustrated job-searcher it’s great to hear any talk of emerging from this slump, as this slump is all I’ve ever known of the working world (along with the rest of my fellow ’08,’09 graduates). I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around what a good economy will yield!? haha.

    However, recently I’ve heard views opposite yours on how layoffs have impacted the PR industry, and that following lay-off’s companies were more likely to hire or promote an “expert in the field” and teach them the PR/Communications practices to get more bang for their buck. Some even went so far as to say these people were better equipped to deal with the issues because of their overall understanding of that practice, and this would lead to a dwinddling need for PR professionals and less opportunities. Do you think this will be a factor in the near future, or just a temporary solution for these companies?

  4. Culpwrit:

    Yes, Lindsay, some companies are putting non-PR people in communication roles in order to prevent additional layoffs. But, this is definitely a temporary situation and not wide spread. Companies are very much aware of the need to have PR pros in key communication positions. Actually, the last recession saw more movement of non-PR pros into communication positions than is happening during this far more severe recession.

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