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Our annual Salary Survey results are in – are PRs happy with what they’re being paid?

11 May 2016 by Sarah Leembruggen.

Our survey looked at a salary timeframe of January 2015-December 2015, examining both the status of salaries and bonuses as well as looking into levels of job satisfaction in the workplace for both agency and in-house professionals. 

Have salaries gone up or down?

The quick answer to this is ‘both’.  The survey showed both increases and decreases in average base salaries across the industry.  For the most part, the mood is optimistic and some very impressive uplifts highlight the ongoing confidence that remains in the market.  Our clients are continuing to create new roles as they expand their teams and look to bring in professionals who will add value to the business over the long term.

Our survey revealed that 62% of participants received an increase in 2015, and 56% are on a base salary of more than £50,000 pa.  More and more employers understand the value of offering meaningful salary increases to encourage employee retention.

So who’s getting paid what?

Financial and Corporate PR are the dominant sectors when it comes to the big increases.  Senior Account Directors in corporate agencies now command salaries averaging £55,000.  The same role in a financial agency brings in an average of £70,000.  Senior Account Managers have fared well too – in the corporate agencies, this role now brings in an average of £41,000 pa and in the financial sector, £47,000.  This is a clear reflection of the value placed on these ‘pivotal’ roles in PR, as they work hard to manage clients and keep them happy.  Furthermore, this is one of the most highly sought after roles so, more often than not, it comes with a generous compensation package to support retention.  There were notable increases in the Consumer PR agencies too, with Senior Account Directors now earning a very credible average salary of £55,000.

The survey showed a similar pattern in in-house firms.  Corporate PR isn’t far behind the financial sector – Global Heads of Communications now bring in an average of £170,000 in Corporate PR, which is just £5,000 short of the average for the same role in Financial PR.  Companies clearly see the value in investment at these top levels as they continue to focus on reputation management.

What really stood out in this survey, more so than in previous years, were the significant increases earned by junior levels.  Across the industry, there were impressive gains to be had by PR Officers and Executives in-house.  PR Executives in Corporate PR can expect to bring in an average salary of £35,000; in Financial PR, the same role is similarly rewarded with an average salary of £36,000.  Junior levels in the agencies are also being recognised, the ranges for an Account Executive have gone up to £23,000-£28,000 in Corporate PR and £25,000-£30,000 in Financial PR. Millennials are clearly making their presence felt, and are expecting more from their employers in return for their hard work.

Are PRs getting bonuses?

Our survey found that 57% of employees polled received a bonus – that’s a 3% increase on the previous year’s findings, and a further indication that employers are keen to recognise the hard work of their teams and keep morale high.

In in-house firms, the senior roles fared best: Global Heads of Corporate Communications received an average bonus of £60,000. In the financial sector, this role was rewarded with an average bonus of £70,000.

In the agencies, CEOs and Board Directors/Partners fared the best in Corporate Communications, with average bonuses of £30,000.  MDs and Board Directors/Partners in Financial PR agencies came away with an average bonus of £50,000.

Is everyone happy with their salaries?

Of the participants who received a salary increase, 62% were happy with their raise – this figure has gone up 3% since our last survey – positive news for employers keen to keep members of their teams happy and retain their best players.

That leaves the 37% who are not happy.  Last year, our survey revealed that 38% were not happy with their increase, so there is still a fair amount of dissatisfaction in the air.  Clearly employers have a way to go when it comes to meeting the pay expectations of their employees.

Do PRs think they’re getting paid enough?

Our survey showed that 47% of participants feel as though they are underpaid and 51% believe they are adequately paid.  It would appear that there is room for improvement here!  The market has been stable for a good few years now, and employees most likely feel as though their pay cheques still do not reflect the stronger economic conditions in which they are working.

The upshot is working in PR and Communications is no walk in the park, with long hours and high stress levels; employees have a strong desire for this to be sufficiently recognised.

High performing employees are in demand, and with 90% of the people we speak to on a daily basis looking for an in-house role, agencies in particular need to go the extra mile, being agile in their hiring and thoughtful in the way they attract and retain staff.

For full results of the survey, download it here.

Salary Survey 2017