Danny Rogers: The shape of the PR industry today

The 2011 PR Census, a joint PRWeek and PRCA research project, published this week, is the biggest and most thorough study of the British PR industry that has been commissioned for at least six years, and possibly ever.

Danny Rogers: The shape of the PR industry today
Danny Rogers: The shape of the PR industry today

As the industry bible for the past quarter-century, PRWeek was determined to discover the size, shape and nature of a business that most commentators now agree is becoming more and more influential. Increasingly one hears that 'PR is the new advertising' or 'conversational content is now king', but we needed some stats to back up what we already suspected.

The combination of a large, representative sample of those working in the sector - our gratitude to all those who contributed - and benchmarking data from ourselves and the PRCA gives this study real credibility.

Indeed, anyone planning business in this sector will find the detail within the Census invaluable.

To some extent the Census will be of 'its time', revealing an industry emerging from an economic recession and grappling with the online revolution. But the trends it reveals are likely to be long-term. The structural change as a result of the democratisation of media has actually been steady, if accelerating recently.

And despite the recession of 2009, the industry has quickly returned to double-digit annual growth, albeit closer to ten per cent today, as opposed to 20 per cent in the early noughties. This suggests PR's structural importance to public life in Britain has outgrown mitigating recessionary pressures.

We are reminded how this growth is driven by a workforce that is young, well-educated, generally well-rewarded and above all, optimistic and ambitious.

We are also reminded that there are some issues to address. The industry would, for example, benefit from more ethnic diversity - helping it reflect the society in which it thrives. It would also be beneficial to encourage more women to stay on and perform senior management roles for longer. But despite these nagging problems, the PR business continues to grow in size and in credibility.

Above all, this first PR Census is proof of the massive and ever-growing value to the British economy.

If any politicians, or other policy-makers, are looking for a national industry that bucks the gloom; a business that exports huge talent and value across the globe; a shining light of enterprise and innovation - they need look no further than the 2011 PR Census.

To order a full copy of the PR Census, priced at £150 for PRWeek subscribers and PRCA members and £200 for others click here.

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