Public Affairs Census 2019 – ‘Public affairs is overwhelmingly London-centric, male-dominated, and young’

The PRCA and PRWeek have launched the results of the first-ever Public Affairs Census, in conjunction with research partner Opinium

The Census – launched at today’s Public Affairs Conference – delivers a compelling snapshot of the Public Affairs industry, providing insight on demographics, diversity, salaries, industry prospects, and evaluation preferences.

Key figures include:

  • The UK public affairs industry is overwhelming London-centric (67%), male-dominated (64%), and young (53% aged 18-34).
  • The majority of businesses (43%) have a turnover of less than £10 million.
  • Ethnically, 79% of public affairs practitioners identify as White British, and 87% identify as British nationals. 10% of professionals are from a black or another minority ethnic background (BAME).
  • 57% of public affairs professionals attended non-selective schools, however 21% attended a fee-paying school which is 14% higher than the national average.
  • When asked if their household received income support during their school years, 18% of respondents said yes.
  • The public affairs industry is made up of highly educated professionals, 88% have an undergraduate degree and 43% have at least a Masters or further qualifications. The majority (54%) have a degree in social studies.
  • 21% of public affairs professionals have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. 
  • When asked which political party they would vote for in the future, 18% said Conservatives, 12% said Liberal Democrats, and 9% said Labour. However, the Liberal Democrats are the most favoured party among floating voters.
  • The average salary in the industry is £56,298. In-house salaries are slightly lower than the industry average at £50,846. On the other hand, agency salaries are higher than the industry average at £59,893.
  • On average, male public affairs practitioners earn £57,500 and female public affairs practitioners earn £53,454.

Emma Petela MPRCA and George McGregor MPRCA, Public Affairs Board Co-Chairs, said: “We are delighted to launch the first-ever PRCA Public Affairs Census. The census provides the definitive analysis of the UK public affairs industry and a greater understanding of those working in the industry. The industry is growing and thriving, but we also face serious challenges that we must address head on.

“The lack of diversity and equality in the industry is concerning. Almost 4 in 10 responding to the survey went to fee paying or selective schools which is well above the national average. And a gender pay gap of 7% exists in comparing the pay of men and women. As communicators, we cannot do our job effectively if we only represent a minority of the wider population.

“Mental health should be a growing concern for all employers.  A fifth of public affairs practitioners have been diagnosed with a mental health condition and as an industry we have a moral duty to support these employees.

“Public affairs is a growing and creative industry, we should be proud of the work that we deliver. It is also full of talented and impressive individuals. However, we cannot continue to prosper as an industry if we do not address the lack of diversity and inclusion. We should make it a priority to attract the best talent from all sections of society and make sure they feel valued.

“The Public Affairs Board Executive Committee will review the findings and discuss actions in further details. The industry must take these issues seriously and respond to these challenges.”

James Crouch, Research Manager, Opinium, commented: “Opinium is proud to partner with the PRCA on running their first census of the Public Affairs sector. It’s clear there are some exciting changes and opportunities for this dynamic industry, coupled with the challenges around diversity and mental health that are impacting almost all sectors. We look forward to helping the PRCA harness this insight to enable Public Affairs agencies and teams to tackle these challenges head on.”

Read the full report.

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