SALARY SURVEY: The main attractions - How can employers attract new blood while holding onto the old? Maja Pawinska looks at the figures

In all sectors of the PR industry, the battle for top quality staff

has never been greater. For at least a year the overriding topic of

discussion has been the difficulty of finding good people, particularly

at middle to senior management level.

So where have all the good people gone? Median Recruitment senior

consultant Emma Dale says she is asked this constantly by employers:

'Some people are leaving the industry altogether to join integrated

marketing agencies, management consultancies or other intellectually

challenging environments, to acquire other skills.

'There is a strong feeling of reaching a ceiling and not learning

anymore from the people above them. However, there is still a desire to

go in- house where PROs can experience a broader communications role

than is offered in an agency,' she adds.

To show the truth of how attractive the in-house sector is in financial

terms, for the first time in the PRWeek/ Median Recruitment Salary

Survey 2001, we have split out the salaries for in-house practitioners

working in the private and the public sectors.

Anecdotally we know that the public sector earns a lot less than the

private sector, and in-house private sector PR roles are often seen as

being more lucrative than consultancies. But we couldn't prove this, or

to say what extent it was true.

Now we can show that in the majority of sectors in-house there are

higher salaries in private sector than the public sector, at all


For example, a PR manager earns an average of pounds 32,600 in the

private sector, compared to pounds 29,300 in the public sector. And a

head of communications in-house in the private sector can expect to earn

an average of pounds 51,000 compared with pounds 37,100 in the public


Dale says in-house work overall is seen as a cosier option than

consultancy: 'Over the past year I have seen an increase in the desire

for PROs to remain or to move in-house. There is still the perception

that it is an easier life, coupled with shorter hours and a bigger and

better benefits package.

'However, I don't feel this is the case. At last agencies are addressing

the long hours and are offering competitive benefits that are closer to

in-house packages and in some cases much better,' she adds.

This year an anomaly in the sample meant that average salaries for board

directors worked out higher than that for the boss. This is quite

possible if the board directors were from larger organisations than the

managing directors. Once the data is re-analysed looking at

consultancies with 20-plus staff, MDs regain their expected position at

the top of the salary ranking.

The average salaries of those working in particular areas of PR were

generally highest for in-house respondents in the private sector than in

consultancies, especially in areas of boardroom interest, such as

corporate PR and investor relations, which attract higher salaries than

other sectors in any case.

For instance, a financial PR or investor relations practitioner in a

consultancy earns an average of pounds 37,000, but this rises to pounds

44,000 for in-house private sector.

One of the biggest gaps was between the average salaries of those

working on new media or web development: pounds 42,600 in-house, and

pounds 24,500 in consultancy.

One exception, however, was lobbying and public affairs, where

consultancy staff earned an average of pounds 43,600 and in-house

practitioners earned pounds 38,900.

The smallest gaps, and the lowest average salaries in terms of type of

PR, were found in those working on consumer PR, and those in media


This may be down to more junior staff working on these areas of PR.

Skills shortage or not, consultancies are still trying to keep standards

up and not employ unsuitable people out of desperation: 'Candidates are

a lot more aware of the industry areas that pay - financial, corporate

and hi-tech - and are keen to move into or remain in those sectors.

However, these areas still struggle with finding good senior experienced


Even though there is a shortage at account director level and above,

agencies are still reluctant to employ people that haven't experienced

an agency before or don't have the right skill set,' says Dale.

But this isn't always easy: 'Agencies are over-promoting and over-paying

in some areas, particularly within the smaller agencies. This makes

recruiting people very difficult if they have over-inflated salaries or

titles compared to their miles on the clock. The market has certainly

plateau'd over the past year and we are seeing fewer agencies giving in

to the demands of greedy candidates asking for over the top salaries. If

someone is too expensive, they will pass and wait for a more

realistically priced candidate to come along.'

Looking at different client sectors, in-house practitioners working in

the private sector are again mostly ahead of the game as far as salaries

are concerned. For instance, in the food and drink sectors consultancy

staff earn an average of just over pounds 31,000, compared to pounds


in-house in the private sector.

Again, in the utilities and industry sector, agency staff earn an

average of pounds 35,300 compared to pounds 40,400 for in-house

practitioners in private sector organisations.

Consultancies working for clients in government agencies or other public

sector areas pay their staff an average of pounds 34,300, but for public

sector PROs in-house it drops to pounds 31,900.

In the healthcare arena, agency staff are paid an average of pounds


This rises slightly to pounds 38,800 in-house in the private sector, but

drops considerably to pounds 19,500 in the public sector, for example

for those working in NHS Trusts. The difference applies even to junior

staff, according to Median Recruitment junior level consultants Debbie

Curtis and Rachel Huggins: 'There is a growing dichotomy between

starting salaries in the consumer and technology sectors. Graduates in

consumer start on an average of pounds 15,000, while the average

technology candidate can expect an average wage of pounds 17,000. The

shortage of candidates within this sector explains the 'auctions' that

now occur when a good candidate is looking for a role.'

Hardly anyone in the industry, in any sector, feels they are very well

rewarded but most - 72 per cent - say they are well or fairly


Around the same number in consultancy as those working in house in the

private sector - around a fifth - say they feel under-rewarded,


Of the public sector in-house respondents, significantly fewer say they

feel well rewarded, and 30 per cent say they actually feel


Most respondents - 71 per cent - say they only have a chance to formally

change this once a year at their salary review, although ten per cent

have six-monthly reviews and 15 per cent have no regular formal reviews

at all.

The largest chunk - 32 per cent - said they received a rise of between

two and 3.9 per cent at their last salary review, although beyond this,

the figures varied wildly. Ten per cent received no increase, despite

the competitive marketplace, 13 per cent received between four and 5.9

per cent, 10 per cent were awarded a rise of between six and 9.9 per

cent, and a further 10 per cent were given a ten to 14.9 per cent


PR has always been an industry where there is a high churn of people,

and there can be rapid promotion, but according to this year's survey,

64 per cent of the industry expect to be in their current job for less

than two years.

Within this, 19 per cent say they expect to be doing their current job

for a year to 18 months, 19 per cent they expect to be doing the same

thing for six months to a year, and a sizeable 14 per cent don't think

they will be in the same job six months from now.

However, Median managing director Colette Brown warns junior employees:

'It is becoming increasingly difficult for senior account executives to

leave a company to move for a promotion. The leap to account manager

appears to be widening, with few companies prepared to take the risk of

employing a solid senior account exec to join as a junior account


As a consequence, those who are wishing for a promotion are having to

stay with their current company until they receive it internally and are

then in a better position to move out into the market and achieve their


The PR industry is frequently seen as having more than its fair share of

perks, but the financial benefits included in the salary package are not

as widespread as you might expect.

In-house people in the public sector do lose out on some of the perks,

giving the lowest response for having bonuses (16 per cent in total),

but are way ahead of the rest on maternity and paternity leave (58 per

cent, compared with 31 per cent for consultancy staff and 49 per cent in

the private sector).

They are also soaring ahead on flexitime, which 41 per cent quoted as a

benefit, compared with 11 per cent of private sector colleagues and 12

per cent in consultancy.

In-house respondents in the private sector came out best for mobile

phones (63 per cent, compared with 45 per cent of consultancy personnel

and 40 per cent in the public sector), performance-related bonuses (49

per cent, compared to 42 per cent in consultancy and 14 per cent in the

public sector) and being involved in the share scheme (28 per cent,

compared with 15 per cent in consultancy).

However, beyond the financial perks, as Dale points out, companies are

being far more creative with feel-good factor benefits that are not

necessarily a huge cost to the company. These might include awards,

sabbaticals, working from home, flexi working hours, paying off student

loans, and transferring to other offices worldwide.

All sectors of the industry are still working long and hard, though.

In-house public sector employees are most likely to be able to stick to

working 35 to 40 hours a week - 38 per cent compared to 23 per cent for

private sector colleagues and those in consultancy.

Those working for consultancies and in the private sector were most

likely to work 40 to 45 hours a week, and overall these two groups work

the longest hours.

Freelances are most likely to work less than 35 hours a week, but they

are also most likely to work more than 60 hours, illustrating the

benefits of being able to work sensibly and manage your own time, but

also the downside. It's difficult to turn down work, and also to create

a dividing line between home and work.

However, many in-house and agency practitioners are tempted by

freelancing: 33 per cent said they had considered the move at some point

in the past year. Median freelance consultant Sarah Smith says the

market has expanded immensely over the past year: 'One of the largest

areas to increase seems to be the account executive/senior account

executive level. They are attracted by the money and flexibility, as

well as the chance to explore a range of companies before committing to

their second permanent role.

Freelance is an especially attractive option at this level as people are

usually fairly commitment-free, and the flexibility to be able to drop

everything and travel or change direction is seen as a distinct


As well as using more freelances to meet the skills crisis - albeit

sometimes reluctantly because of the high cost - employers are also

using temps more: 'In a marketplace saturated with graduates, hiring a

potential candidate as a temp is a great way to see how they work

individually and with the team before offering them a permanent

position. Once a client has found a good temp, they are reluctant to let

them go, and one in five of our temps go permanent,' says Median

temporary consultant Sarah Camlett.

This year the survey has addressed the problem of the amount of holiday

apparently taken by the PR industry. Last year most respondents said

they were entitled to six or even seven weeks holiday.

The resulting outcry confirmed that this is unlikely to be the case and

so rather than ask respondents to estimate in weeks, we asked them to

say how many days holiday were in their contract. This has given a much

more accurate picture, with most respondents overall - 53 per cent -

saying they have between 21 and 25 days holiday a year. A further 21 per

cent say they get between 26 and 30 days, and only 16 per cent said they

just had the statutory 20 days.

A lucky six per cent of respondents say they have more than 31 days a

year. Whether they have time to take it all is another matter - 23 per

cent of respondents said they took less than 100 per cent of their

holiday allowance.

Overall, 86 per cent of respondents work some weekends. This splits out

as 85 per cent in consultancy, 88 per cent in-house in the private

sector, and 89 per cent in-house in the public sector.

Very few respondents - three to four per cent - in any sector said they

worked every weekend, but 20 per cent said they regularly worked

weekends. Most said they occasionally worked at the weekends, and this

was higher for public sector in-house practitioners (68 per cent) than

for consultancy staff (60 per cent).

Only a lucky 12 per cent overall said they never worked at weekends, and

this was highest in consultancies (16 per cent).

The average number of nights spent going out every week for respondents

under 30 was 2.4 - when you take weekends out of the equation, this is

hardly painting the popular media picture of PR practitioners being

party animals. Perhaps everyone's just too exhausted?

Indeed, high stress levels were a big theme of last year's survey, but

there's some good news here. According to the figures, the number of

people in PR across the board who say their job is stressful has dropped

slightly from 74 per cent to 70 per cent.

'I can certainly say I have seen less burnt out, stressed PROs over the

last year,' says Dale. 'Finally, people are taking more control over the

balance of work and life and there is more evidence of working to live

rather than living to work. Companies are realising that staff are a lot

more productive working reasonable hours and that the working

environment is a much happier place. Long hours and stressed PROs leads

to high turnover which companies can not afford to have in today's


The ways in which PR practitioners are winding down have changed from

last year. Maybe it's the sample, or maybe people are just being more

honest, but this year 16 per cent overall said they used cigarettes to

try and relax, compared with 12 per cent in 2000 (and this was even

higher - 19 per cent - in agencies). And 45 per cent admitted to using

alcohol to try and chill out, compared with a relatively sober 34 per

cent last year.

There are differences between the salaries earned by men and women. In

consultancies it is women who are more likely to earn more. When looking

at specific job titles, a female account director earns an average of

pounds 37,800 compared with pounds 34,300 for a man.

There is much more of a gender gap in-house, however. A male public

sector head of communications earns an average of pounds 39,500 compared

with pounds 35,100 for his female counterpart. In the public sector, a

male PR head of comms can expect to earn an average of pounds 58,000

compared with pounds 53,400 for a woman in the same role.

There are also discrepancies in salary depending on where you work.

Unsurprisingly, London tends to pay a lot more than the rest of the

country. The private sector tends to be better paid than the public

sector or consultancy throughout the UK.

The average salary in central London is pounds 38,300 for those working

in consultancies; pounds 43,200 in-house in the private sector, pounds

33,100 in-house in the public sector, and pounds 40,600 for


Outside London, there is a mixed picture. For consultancy staff, for

instance, the Midlands turns out to more lucrative than London, with an

average salary of pounds 38,600. The average Scottish agency salary is

pounds 33,400.

The least lucrative area for consultancy staff is the south-west, where

employees earn an average of pounds 26,900.

For practitioners working in-house in the private sector, being based in

Greater London can mean higher salaries than in the centre of town, at

an average of pounds 43,800. Salaries for this sector are lowest in

Wales, at an average of pounds 27,000, and the north-east (pounds


In the public sector, in-house practitioners are worst off in Northern

Ireland, where there is an average salary of pounds 22,500, and best off

in the north-east where they earn an average of pounds 33,200,

fractionally more than in Central London.

There is little evidence that PROs are becoming multi-lingual. Last

year, 54 per cent of respondents said they spoke no languages other than

English fluently. This year it's up to 58 per cent, which is not

terribly impressive. It's possible, however, that even as PR becomes

more international, the fact that the language of the internet is

English means there is less need for Brits to branch out than


Of those who do speak another language fluently, the most popular was

French, spoken by 22 per cent. German is spoken by seven per cent,

Spanish by four per cent and Italian by two per cent, with a further six

per cent speaking another language.

The PR industry may be making small strides towards being more

multicultural, however: six per cent of respondents described their

ethnic origin as other than Caucasian, up from just two per cent last


A large number of the sample - 38 per cent - have never done anything

apart from PR. The number of people in the industry who do PR for the

industry in which they used to work has risen from seven per cent to

nine per cent, which may be the result of employers having to look

beyond the PR industry to beat staff shortages. This is highest for

in-house private practitioners at 11 per cent.

Journalism is still one of the most popular routes into PR, with 18 per

cent having crossed to 'the other side'. However, this total was swayed

by very different results depending on what type or organisation the

respondent works for. In consultancy, only 12 per cent come from a

journalistic background. This rises to 16 per cent in-house in the

private sector but shoots up even further to 28 per cent for those

in-house in the public sector.

For the first time this year, we also asked those who took part in the

survey to tell us what they would do if they weren't in PR. Apart from a

few jokers in the pack (see Diary p36), not surprisingly, journalism and

marketing came top of the list.

Encouragingly, since the PR industry wants to attract people who would

otherwise go into other high-level professions, 11 per cent say they

would go into management consultancy if they were not in PR, while five

per cent say they would pursue a career in the law.


Lord Bell

Chime Communications



pounds 775,000

Benefits package

pounds 1.1m from exercised share options

David Wright


Year end 29 February 2000


pounds 216,667

Benefits package

pounds 360,773

Figures taken from published reports and accounts/interim results



Average salary - pounds 48,500

Average age - 44

Average salary increase at last review - 13%

Average holiday - 24 days


Car - 42%

Health plan - 29%

Performance-related bonus - 45%

Non-contributory pension - 19%


Average salary - pounds 58,300

Average age - 42

Average salary increase at last review - 10%

Average holiday - 23 days


Car - 55%

Health plan - 48%

Performance-related bonus - 62%

Non-contributory pension - 7%


Average salary - pounds 36,500

Average age - 34

Average salary increase at last review - 11%

Average holiday - 23 days


Car - 32%

Health plan - 36%

Performance-related bonus - 43%

Non-contributory pension - 5%


Average salary - pounds 25,800

Average age - 29

Average salary increase at last review - 12%

Average holiday - 22 days


Car - 21%

Health plan - 38%

Performance-related bonus - 40%

Non-contributory pension - 6%


Average salary - pounds 19,200

Average age - 25

Average salary increase at last review - 11%

Average holiday - 22 days


Car - 2%

Health plan - 27%

Performance-related bonus - 31%

Non-contributory pension - 4%


Average salary - pounds 33,100

Average age - 44

Average salary increase at last review - 9%

Average holiday - 25 days


Car - 14%

Health plan - 4%

Performance-related bonus - 8%

Non-contributory pension - -

*see charts below and explanation of results on page 13



Average salary - pounds 51,000

Average age - 40

Average salary increase at last review - 7%

Average holiday - 25 days


Car - 58%

Health plan - 59%

Performance-related bonus - 61%

Non-contributory pension - 22%


Average salary - pounds 32,600

Average age - 35

Average salary increase at last review - 7%

Average holiday - 24 days


Car - 41%

Health plan - 54%

Performance-related bonus - 48%

Non-contributory pension - 16%


Average salary - pounds 22,300

Average age - 30

Average salary increase at last review - 6%

Average holiday - 24 days


Car - 17%

Health plan - 40%

Performance-related bonus - 29%

Non-contributory pension - 25%



Average salary - pounds 37,100

Average age - 42

Average salary increase at last review - 4%

Average holiday - 27 days


Car - 24%

Health plan - 11%

Performance-related bonus - 16%

Non-contributory pension - 18%


Average salary - pounds 29,300

Average age - 38

Average salary increase at last review - 4%

Average holiday - 26 days


Car - 23%

Health plan - 19%

Performance-related bonus - 16%

Non-contributory pension - 13%


Average salary - pounds 21,900

Average age - 32

Average salary increase at last review - 4%

Average holiday - 25 days


Car - 1%

Health plan - 9%

Performance-related bonus - 8%

Non-contributory pension - 19%.

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