Research from the CIPR has revealed the average salary of in-house private sector comms professionals has leapt by 14 per cent year on year to £61,920, taking the average wage above those in agencies for the first time.
The latest CIPR State of the PR Profession benchmarking survey reveals that, despite the strong growth of in-house salaries, average agency wages slipped back three per cent last year.
While the CIPR was unable to provide exact year-on-year comparisons for periods before 2011, previous benchmarking studies consistently found a higher proportion of agency staff than in-house earning in excess of £50,000.
The findings come amid a general staffing-up of in-house teams in both numbers and seniority after the global financial downturn, while agencies have seen client budgets and margins squeezed.
Telefonica UK director of comms and reputation Nicola Green suggested the figures pointed to PR becoming a key part of strategic positioning of firms and more valued by CEOs.
While Alex Young, director of agency-client intermediary AAR, said: 'Fee levels remain stable but clients are often looking for added value from all agencies ... Life at the top within agencies is becoming tougher.'
The report, which also revealed that males are almost twice as likely as females to become directors, partners or MDs (27 per cent to 14 per cent), comes from a ComRes survey of 1,273 CIPR members.
'Our survey also showed that more PR practitioners are experiencing and seeking out greater involvement in company strategy and at a more senior level,' said CIPR CEO Jane Wilson. 'The need to bring a strategic mindset in-house is particularly important with social media.'
The full report is published by the CIPR on Friday 15th February