Editorial - Our Salary Survey reins in the hype

If you listen to the grapevine you could be forgiven for thinking that every account executive is being driven to work in a Cadillac and VPs are in greater demand than Oscars. You might even think that if you aren’t sitting on stock options worth at least dollars 1 million, you’re losing out, pal.

If you listen to the grapevine you could be forgiven for thinking that every account executive is being driven to work in a Cadillac and VPs are in greater demand than Oscars. You might even think that if you aren’t sitting on stock options worth at least dollars 1 million, you’re losing out, pal.

If you listen to the grapevine you could be forgiven for thinking

that every account executive is being driven to work in a Cadillac and

VPs are in greater demand than Oscars. You might even think that if you

aren’t sitting on stock options worth at least dollars 1 million, you’re

losing out, pal.



These tales are fun to tell - we’ve even told a few ourselves. They

speak of an industry in prime form, where talent is scarce and pros -

young and old - are happy to hop from job to job to job. ’Do I hear

dollars 30k? How about dollars 40k? Gone for dollars 65k!’



The PRWeek Salary Survey 2000 applies the brakes to an industry in hype

mode. True, salaries are rising faster than the norm (1.5%). They’re

even rising faster than in advertising (6.6%). But the reality, 7.9%, is

not an industry out of control, as we are often led to believe. And

neither is this salary inflation half as explosive as it’s estimated to

be in the hot sectors (like hi-tech) and prime regions (New York,

Silicon Valley).



It’s clear that PR is catching up with advertising pay rates. An account

executive at an ad agency earns an average of dollars 45,600; at a PR

agency, an AE takes home approximately dollars 38,000. At the top end,

PR actually pays better. An ad agency CEO might take home dollars

163,100, according to Advertising Age. A corporate PR SVP, however, will

bring in dollars 172,808. An EVP at a large PR agency will earn even

more - around dollars 205,905.



Of course, it’s important that the industry attracts the best talent,

and in that sense salary inflation is no bad thing. But it’s also

important that salaries don’t get out of hand. One of the main

attractions of PR is that it’s good value. As much attention should be

paid to finding new talent as cannibalizing and overpaying the current

generation.



It’s human nature to focus on the exceptions, but don’t they prove the

rule? The Salary Survey won’t guarantee aggressive pitches by

prospective employees, but it does add an empirical base for the

conversation. And that’s something from which we can all benefit.



But the Salary Survey 2000 is more than just a collection of salaries

and dollar signs. It is a window into the world of PR. It shows that a

typical pro works 9.2 hours every day, has 1.1 business lunches every

week and is working almost one evening per week. It also documents the

fact that, racially speaking, the industry is as lily-white (91%) as

ever.



People often want to know if more pros are moving from agencies to

corporations or vice versa. Again, the survey provides insight. The

answer is that it’s pretty much even right now. On the other hand, 47%

of solo practitioners came from agencies; only 25% came from

corporations. Despite corporate downsizing, it seems the majority of

solo pros are taking a break from the pressures of agency life.



What does your degree tell you about your life in PR? The Salary Survey

proves conclusively that the new generation of PR pros is more likely to

major in public relations or marketing, and that pros with a degree in

either journalism or liberal arts are old school. The only thing our

Salary Survey can’t do is say whether or not this is a good thing.

That’s for another survey.



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