Exclusive: PRCA's first-ever APAC Census revealed

Findings from the report include evaluation of work, flexible working, mental health, salary, and more.

Exclusive: PRCA's first-ever APAC Census revealed

PRWeek has partnered with PRCA Southeast Asia (SEA) and YouGov to produce a report on the problems, challenges and opportunities in the communications business. Topics tackled include demographics, evaluation, professionalism, standards, diversity, wellbeing, and equality.


The survey generated 533 responses made up of PR professionals at agencies, in-house, and contractors or freelancers. Respondents are spread across a range of roles from Chair and CEO to trainee account executive and Intern. However, the average respondent has worked in PR for nearly 12 years, and aged 35.

Is PR a profession or an industry?

60% of PR practitioners in the region believe that PR is a profession while 30% consider it an industry. This is in line with findings from the UK Census in recent years; while those who considered PR a profession dropped to 50% in 2019, it has been consistently higher in previous editions.

"It is important that PR considers itself a profession – what else is it, if not? PR should consider itself a profession to create a positive self-image and encourage practitioners to work in a responsible and strategic way," said Clara Ly-Le, managing director at EloQ Communications.


43% of respondents say they prefer a method other than Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) to evaluate their work while 19% state they do not prefer a single evaluation method. Other methods mentioned are the Barcelona Principles 2.0 (chosen by 12%), the Integrated Evaluation Framework (11%), impressions (11%), and PESO (5%), while 4% selected ‘other methods’. Meanwhile, 7% said they did not know which method they use.

"One particularly important area in this Census is the section on evaluation. It is heartening to see a large number of respondents using robust methods to measure their work, but also worrying that too many still prefer Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs), or do not evaluate their work at all," said Lee Nugent, chairman of PRCA SEA, and EVP and APAC regional director at Archetype. 

Compared to findings in the UK, impressions was the most common measurement method used in the UK Census, chosen by 16% of respondents. A quarter (26%) of UK practitioners do not evaluate their work.

"Nobody doubts the importance of evaluation these days. While AVEs shouldn’t be used at all, the number of clients asking for it is coming down steadily. Firms should encourage and showcase new methods of evaluation such as AMEC’s Integrated Evaluation Framework, which will enable them to win larger and better projects as well," said Nitin Mantri, president, International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO), and group CEO at AvianWE.

Main duties and roles

How do PR practitioners define their roles in 2019? Unsurprisingly, the study showed that 58% of respondents suggested increased importance in digital and social media.
Online communication was the second most popular response (25%) and coming in third was reputation management (21%). Communications strategy development, crisis management, and corporate social responsibility were chosen by 17%, followed by branding and marketing with 16%, and SEO with 14%.

On the other hand, 26% of respondents regarded sales promotion and general media relations to be of decreasing importance – similar to sentiment in the UK. Other duties becoming less important were event planning/organisation (17%), providing information (16%), publishing/editing (14%), media analysis (12%), and media relations strategy planning (11%).

Wellbeing and mental health

Six percent of the sample for the study said they’ve been diagnosed with a mental health issue compared to 32% in the UK. It is more notably common in Australia and Hong Kong - in both countries, 13% of respondents said they had had this diagnosis, while it is below 5% in Malaysia and Singapore.

In terms of benefits, almost all respondents (97%) have received at least one benefit from their company. In-house staff are more likely to get benefits to protect their wellbeing - 40% can access an employee assistance programme, versus 11% of agency staff.

A quarter (24%) of those in-house get regular health checks, versus 10% of agency staff. While 16% of in-house staff get stress management training or workshops, and the same number again get a regular medical examination, that is double the rate of agency staff receiving the same benefit.

Salaries and bonuses

Men working in PR in Singapore earn an average of $95,200, 30% more than the average figure for women ($73,500).

Because men are under-represented among Australian respondents, it is not possible to definitively measure a gender pay gap. However, female respondents earn an average of $55,750 versus an average for all respondents of nearly $4,000 more, which strongly suggests that a significant gap does exist, just as it does in other areas of the country’s economy.

By comparison, in the UK Census, there was a 13.6% pay gap with men earning on average £47,063 ($57,647), and women £40,651 ($49,793).

To read the full report, click here

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