Fifty-three per cent of respondents said work experience staff should receive pay for work they do at an agency, while 38 per cent said only expenses should be paid.
Nine per cent of the 129 respondents said work experience staff should receive no pay at all.
The new results follow a survey PRWeek undertook earlier this month that found the majority of PR agencies (71 per cent) rarely or never paid work experience staff (PRWeek, 11 September 2009). The poll of 52 UK PR agencies found that 11 per cent also admitted they did not even pay for basic expenses such as travel to and from work.
Some 27 per cent of agencies were happy taking on work experience staff for as long as two months without paying them.
Polymedia PR senior consultant Rebecca Whitehead said: ‘I find it slightly unethical that some agencies use work experience to prop up their account teams with free labour. Flip the coin though and you do get some fabulous graduates with great experience. I can't imagine any client would be happy to know that a work experience person is contacting the media on their behalf.'
The Big Partnership director Neil Gibson added that the agency's internship scheme, which pays graduates the minimum wage, actually helped in its drive to attract the best young talent.