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PR must practice what it preaches

Analysing the findings from the CIPR's State of the Profession Report.

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Last week, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) published their annual ‘State of the Profession’ report exploring the trends, issues and challenges facing the public relations industry. The review identifies key issues for the industry to address such as diversity, mental health and representation at board level.

A stable industry

On the whole, commercial growth within the industry is steady. The majority of both agencies and in-house PR departments reported either remaining a stable size or growing in numbers.

The report suggests that a commitment to professionalism pays, as practitioners that hold CIPR membership, professional qualifications and are actively continuing their professional development through CPD reap financial benefits. With professionally qualified PR practitioners earning, on average, £3,800 more, whilst Chartered Practitioners are taking home a healthy £18K more than the average respondent.

Gender pay gap

Differences in gender pay affect every industry, and even in a predominantly female profession (67%), there’s no exception to this. There’s a significant discrepancy in pay and seniority in PR, with more men occupying leadership roles at board level than women. This year’s report shows a modest annual reduction of £1,523 in the average pay gap to £5,202. Although, there’s still a huge £8K difference for some senior roles.

challenges for the industry

Even though true public relations is more of strategic role than copywriting and media relations, these tactical activities are still seen as the most common activities of a PR professional. The full potential of employing the skills and knowledge of a PR practitioner involves their presence at board level, advising and influencing the strategy of an entire organisation, not just the communication aspect. After all, a business’s reputation is based upon what they do as an organisation just as much as what they say. So the lack of a PR presence when forming business objectives and strategies can have damaging effects on reputation and ultimately the success of a business.

Diversity

Worryingly, diversity in the industry is at a 5 year low, with 92% of respondents describing themselves as white. An ethnically diverse team of PR professionals would be far more effective at engaging the similarly diverse society that we live in; massive improvements are needed in this area of the industry.

Mental health

Mental health, a salient topic for many industries also factored into the report, with over 20% of respondents being diagnosed with a mental health condition. The top three factors making jobs stressful were a heavy or unmanageable workload, unrealistic deadlines or expectation from colleagues, and the ‘always on’ culture of public relations. Again, a pertinent issue for the industry to address.

improvements for the future

As an industry that should practice what it preaches, this comprehensive evaluation of the industry should directly feed into the industry’s strategy for itself, and form the objectives for building upon the previous successes of public relations as a profession.

Key areas for the industry to address are:
• Improving PR involvement at board level, including female practitioners • Reducing and ultimately removing the gender pay gap
• Encouraging and increasing diversity within the industry
• Creating a better workplace culture that alleviates mental health issues

Never underestimate the importance of research and analysis to provide insight for your business strategy. The full report can be found below or via the CIPR newsroom.

CIPR STATE OF THE PROFESSION REPORT 2019

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations

The CIPR is the Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas. The CIPR is the largest membership organisation for PR practitioners outside of North America. By size of turnover and number of individually registered members, we are the leading representative body for the PR profession and industry in Europe.

The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).

This article was first published in the Suffolk Free Press, Thursday 11 April 2019.

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