PRCA launches the PR and Communications Census 2019

The PRCA today launches the PR and Communications Census 2019, which shows that the industry is currently worth £14.9 billion pounds, an increase of 7.9% since 2018. The Census is produced in conjunction with global market research agency Norstat and is the most comprehensive and authoritative analysis of the PR and communications industry.

The PR and Communications Census 2019 also reveals that the industry has grown to 95,000 employees, an increase of 9,000 people since 2018.

Key figures:

  • The ethnic make-up of the industry is almost unchanged since 2018, with 89% of respondents being White. The demographics of the industry have also largely remained the same over the past year -the industry is 67% female; and the median age is 33.
  • We asked employees about their mental wellbeing for the first time in the history of the Census, and 32% of respondents revealed that they have suffered or been diagnosed with mental ill health.
  • Average salaries have decreased across the board -the average salary for PR and communications practitioners fell from £45,950 to £42,700; agency salaries fell from £45,865 to £41,846; in-house salaries fell from £46,078 to £43,300; and freelancer average incomes fell from £50,966 to £49,069.
  • The gender pay gap in the industry is 13.6%, down from 21% in 2018. The pay disparity between men’s and women’s earnings is £6,412. The gender pay gap is most pronounced at agency level at 15.4%. The in-house gender pay gap is 6.9%. 
  • Impressions are the preferred evaluation metric or process, with 16% of the industry using this evaluation method. Encouragingly, the use of AVEs has dropped from 12% to 7% this year. 26% of PR professionals do not use any PR evaluation methods -down from 33% since 2018.
  • The leading sectors that agencies work in are technology and consumer services, with Technology growing from 29% to 35%.
  • The most common form of flexible working is flexitime which is up by 8% this year. This is followed by working from home at least one day a week. 31% of PR professionals do not take advantage of any flexible working arrangements.

 Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General, PRCA, said:

“This year’s PRCA Census once again provides the definitive analysis of where we are now, and where we are heading. Based on a quite exceptional number of individual practitioner responses, and making use of robust third-party data, this is essential reading for anyone who works in PR and communications. The insight it provides will frame much of the PRCA’s campaigning work over the coming year –our fiftieth.

“The industry’s growth is relentless, rapidly approaching the one hundred thousand practitioner mark, and the fifteen billion Pound value threshold. This growth is being driven by the blending of disciplines working in our favour, powered in many fields by digital.

“The gender pay gap has shrunk, but the fact that we still have a gender pay gap is unacceptable. So, we will continue to work with Women In PR and Global Women In PR in this vital area.

“There is also excellent news on evaluation. AMEC’s work over the past decade has paid off. We can now safely say that AVEs are dead in the UK. And about time too.

“But in too many areas, we are not making progress. There has essentially been no movement on diversity. Mental health is a huge issue, made all the worse by often crushingly long hours. And incomes have declined for agency practitioners, in-house ones, and freelancers alike.

“For years now, talent has been the number one headache for PR leaders. Declining salary levels will only compound this. Our long-standing belief is that evaluation is the answer to this problem. Until we can prove the value that we bring, we will not be able to charge the price that we should, and so to pay people the amount that they deserve. So we now double down on our work with AMEC, to build on our shared progress in this field, so that a growing industry will also mean a better rewarded one.

“So –much to celebrate, but much more still to do.”

The industry continues to be overwhelmingly female -67% of the PR professionals are women, which is a 1% increase since 2018.

The industry is also a young industry -the most common age range is 25-34, and the median age in the industry is 33.

The ethnic make-up of the industry is overwhelmingly White, making up 89% of the industry. Following trends from previous Censuses, this year we have seen that younger professionals tend to be more ethnically diverse.

For the first time in the history of the Census we asked employees about their mental wellbeing, and 32% of respondents said they had suffered or been diagnosed with mental ill health.

When we asked questions about their educational background, we found that 80% of the industry is educated to undergraduate level. 71% of the industry attended a state-run or funded school, which marks a 2% increase since 2018.

Social mobility statistics have very slightly improved this year, with 13% of respondents reporting that their household received income support (a 1% increase this year) and 11% reporting that they received free school meals (a 1% increase this year).


The most popular evaluation metric or process amongst PR professionals is impressions at 16%. 9% of respondents cite the Barcelona Principles 2.0, and 9% cite the Integrated Evaluation Framework. The use of Advertising Value Equivalents has fallen from 12% to 7%.

An increasing number of PR practitioners believe that they work in an industry rather than a profession –an increase over the previous year from 35% to 42%. 50% of PR practitioners say that PR is a profession.

The tasks that have increased in importance over the last year are digital, online communication, and S.E.O. Over half of the industry (52%) believe that digital has increased in importance.

The most cited tasks that PR professionals believe have decreased in importance are sales promotion, writing articles/newsletters, and general media relations. General media relations remains one of the top duties of PR professionals however.

What do we do?

The main duties in the industry are communications strategy development, general media relations, corporate public relations, and media relations strategy planning. This generally follows the same pattern as last year, and though it continues to decrease in importance, general media relations is still considered to be a top duty. 

The dominant sectors for agencies and freelancers are technology and consumer services. The technology sector continues to grow at a good pace, growing from 29% to 35% within a year.

The average PR and communications agency is made up of 11-25 people, with an average annual turnover of between £500,000-£2.5 million pounds. In-house teams tend to be smaller, with the average in-house PR team made up of 2-5 people.

Salaries and gender pay gap

Salaries have decreased across the board, with the average salary across the industry having decreased from £45,950 to £42,700 over the year.

Agency professionals have seen the biggest salary decreases, with the average salary dropping from £45,865 to £41,846.

In-house professionals earn slightly more than the industry average with an average salary of £43,300. However, this has dropped from £46,078 in 2018.

The average freelancer income is £49,069, which is slightly down from £50,966 in 2016.

Agency professionals working for clients in local government, business services, and automotive earn the highest salaries, with average salaries of £46,774, £46,258, and £44,760 respectively.  The highest paid sectors across in-house teams are technology (£54,845), finance/financial services (£51,434), and consumer services (£45,332).

The gender pay gap in the PR and communications industry has decreased by 7.4% to 13.6% this year. The pay disparity has also decreased from £11,364 to £6,412.

Employee wellbeing

PR professionals continue to be overworked. 50% of professionals work for 45 hours a week – 10 hours more than their contracted 35 hours. Only 21% of professionals actually work their contracted 35 hours per week. There seems to be a better work-life balance for in-house teams, but senior employees in both organisations are more likely to work overtime, some putting in more than 60 hours a week. Around 32% of PR professionals make work-related calls and emails outside of offices hours, which has decreased from 41% last year.

69% of PR professional take advantage of some kind of flexible working arrangement – most often working flexitime -up by 8% to 41% this year. Other popular flexible working arrangements are working from home one day a week, and shorter working days. In-house employees are more likely to work flexibly in comparison to their agency counterparts. Senior employees across agencies and in-house teams are also more likely to work flexibly in comparison to their junior counterparts.

Read the full report here.

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