‘PR industry roars back’ – 2021 PRCA UK Census

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has published the results of its flagship annual UK PR and Communications Census, showing that the industry has roared back.

This year’s research, sponsored and carried out by 3Gem, is based on survey responses from 541 PR and communications professionals across the UK.

After the disruption caused by Covid, the UK PR industry has bounced back strongly. The industry has grown by slightly over 6% since 2020, contributing a record £16.7bn* to the economy, and comprising an all-time high of 99,900 practitioners.
This year’s research shows that 9% of practitioners were furloughed after March 2020, and that 2% were made redundant. Of those, 69% are back to work full-time and 26% are back to work part-time.
In a significant change to working patterns, only 16% of practitioners have returned to their office full time.

The research reveals Covid’s toll on practitioners, with 40% of practitioners saying that they have suffered from mental ill health. The PRCA’s recent Mental Wellbeing Audit highlighted that PR practitioners are significantly more likely to suffer from poor mental health than other UK subjects, with many citing their workload as the key source of stress. For example, 34% of practitioners say that they make work-related calls or send-work related emails after work every day.
Female practitioners continue to earn less on average than their male counterparts. The gender pay gap is 12%, with women earning an average of £48,293, and men earning an average of £55,312.
The industry’s ethnicity pay gap is 16%. 46% of white professionals earn an average salary of more than £50,00. In contrast, only 32% of non-white professionals earn an average salary of more than that amount.

Francis Ingham MPRCA, PRCA Director General said:
“The message from the Census is simple – the industry has roared back from the extraordinary shock of Covid.
“Teams are growing again. Incomes are rising again. The industry is confident again. The last eighteen months have proved beyond dispute the value that practitioners bring to business, to democracy, and to our daily lives. When the need to communicate effectively had never been greater, communicators around the UK rose to the challenge magnificently,.
“While there are obviously many challenges ahead, our industry’s resilience has been verified. Its value has been confirmed. And its future is a fantastically positive one.”

Anna Geffert MPRCA, President of Women in PR, said:

“The pandemic has opened the door for a reset – humanising the workplace and providing a real opportunity to place equality and diversity at the heart of our businesses. We are moving in the right direction, but now is the time to accelerate. The industry has proved its resilience and that should give us the confidence to reimagine how we recruit, promote and pay our colleagues; encouraging people from all backgrounds to join our incredible industry. Where we lead our clients will follow, so the onus is on us to raise the bar.”

Barbara Phillips MPRCA, PRCA REEB Chair said:

“It’s great to see the buoyancy back in PR and communications in this year’s census. The industry has grown 6.1% since 2020, having contributed £16.7bn to the 2020 economy. Also, professionals are taking mental wellbeing more seriously mainly because many, at all levels, were adversely impacted. And I applaud that while welcoming you to the world of Black, Asian, mixed race and ethnically diverse practitioners. This is now fertile ground for the leaders in our industry to consign divisive and detrimental organisation practices to the past, and place themselves firmly on a path of growth, of the racial equity kind.
“Revenues up? Great! Let’s be rid of the 16% ethnicity pay gap. The PRCA Race and Ethnicity Equity Board has led the way in 2020 and showed everyone how. Employees returning to the office? Great, let’s dismantle the toxic cultures that meant many non-white groups found sanctuary working from home (especially Black women) and are now reluctant to come back to microaggressions and lower pay. It’s great to be back but let’s leave the discrimination behind and instead create psychologically safe cultures where all protected groups are welcomed, then perhaps, we can say our industry is finally moving in the right direction. Currently, as far as racial inclusion and equity are concerned – it isn’t.”

*The 2021 figure is based on the 2020 value with 6% industry growth rate (from PRCA Benchmarking 2020) and 0.85% inflation applied.

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