This is according to a new survey by the PR and comms recruitment agency JFL (see tables in picture gallery above), which also found comms directors in charities and NGOs earn on average around half the amount of their counterparts in other in-house roles.
The survey found the average starting salary for an account executive in a consumer agency is around £20,000. This compares with around £24,000 for someone with the same job title in a corporate, financial or public affairs practice. The equivalent salary in a tech agency is around £23,000.
It also found that the wage differences between the different disciplines in agencies are broadly similar as seniority increases.
For example, account directors in consumer agencies are paid £40,000 on average, compared with £50,000 in corporate, financial or public affairs consultancies and tech agencies. Managing directors in these disciplines are paid on average £120,000, £150,000 and £140,000 respectively.
The survey, which JFL said is based on responses of around 200 PR professionals and "supplemented with data acquired from our own database", found in-house PR assistants in consumer teams are paid £24,000 on average, compared with £26,000 in corporate, financial or public affairs teams and £25,000 in tech teams.
The same is roughly true of in-house PR roles. PR or comms directors in the consumer and tech sectors are paid £120,000 on average, against £130,000 in the corporate, financial or public affairs industry.
One sector where in-house PR professionals are paid much less in-house is charity/NGO. PR assistants here are paid £21,000 on average, and PR/comms directors receive £65,000 – roughly half the salary of their equivalents from in-house corporate, financial or public affairs positions.
Other findings include:
- Directors working in-house can expect a higher bonus than their agency counterparts. In-house PR/comms directors typically receive a bonus of 20-30 per cent, compared to around 20 per cent for agency directors.
- In-house professionals receive a more comprehensive benefits package than their agency equivalents, with pensions and ‘flexitime' available to 77 per cent in the former and just 52 per cent in the later.
- Both in-house and agency PRs believe a pension is the most important benefit, although a higher proportion believe this among agency (70 per cent) than in-house (56 per cent) professionals. For all respondents, flexitime and the ability to work from home is the second most important benefit, followed by private health cover.
- In-house professionals receive a more generous holiday allowance, with 72.5 per cent getting 25-30 days, compared to only 62 per cent agency-side.
- Agencies offer more ‘soft benefits’ such as birthdays off (offered to 23 per cent of agency PRs, and five per cent of in-house professionals), early Friday finish (10.5 per cent versus six per cent) and extra holiday days (five per cent versus two per cent). JFL cited agencies' "more relaxed HR structure". "This often allows for more imaginative benefits, put in place to make up for slightly less generous standard benefits."
- For their next role in PR, agency directors typically expect a higher pay rise (£15,000) than their in-house director counterparts (£10,000). JFL suggests this could be because in-house professionals receive a more comprehensive package, including car allowance and London weighting, therefore need a lower rise in basic salary.
- The main motivation for agency PRs to move is clients, with 36.5 per cent making their move based on what accounts they will work on. For in-house professionals, the main motivator is salary, with 24 per cent saying they will only move if the salary is 100 per cent right.
- Agency professionals aim to move in-house at around account director level (51 per cent said they would do this). It tallies with the fact the most common time for agency staff to move in-house is after four to six years of experience (38 per cent).