PRCA annual income falls 22 per cent, reports £488k surplus

The PRCA's income dropped from £4m to £3.2m in the year to 31 March 2021, although its expenditure fell more than a third and the trade body reported a surplus of £488,176 at the period end.

PRCA chief Francis Ingham: 'This was the year public relations stood up'
PRCA chief Francis Ingham: 'This was the year public relations stood up'

The PRCA's Annual Report, published today, shows membership income fell 12.4 per cent to £1.8m in the period, which broadly matches the first 12 months of the COVID-19 crisis.

Events income fell sharply, by 60.6 per cent to £302k, amid the lockdown. There was also a decline in income from training (down 15.3 per cent to £779k) and publications (down almost two-thirds to £13k). However, income from its matchmaker service and CMS both grew by around two-thirds, reaching £32k and £71k respectively.

Overall expenditure was £2.6m, down from £4.2m in the previous 12 months.

Overhead costs more than halved to £414k, aided by the group leaving its office when the lease expired in November 2020 (PRCA moved to its current office last month), along with redundancies and staff pay cuts, and switching to virtual events. Expenditure on events plummeted from £478k to £72k, while training expenditure also fell sharply, from £739k to £428k.

Expenditure on "bad debts" was £120k, versus £57k in the previous year. A PRCA spokesman said "some members struggled to pay their fees" during the difficult period.

"Rather than pursue them aggressively, we tried to be as flexible as possible. We offered payment holidays and wrote off bills for members who were in serious financial difficulty. The approach paid off as membership numbers are now at a record high."

The PRCA Annual Report outlines the actions taken by the trade body over 2020. These include the launch of the Schools Outreach programme, designed to broaden the range of newcomers to the sector; the Global COVID-19 Communications Taskforce; the Global Ethics Council; the PRCA Race & Ethnicity Equity Board; and ethics month in September.

PRCA director general Francis Ingham said: “This was the year public relations stood up. For the PRCA, 2020 was not just about resilience and adaptation – but about growth and evolution. Like the industry we serve, the PRCA has emerged from the depths of this crisis stronger and in better shape to face the challenges that lie ahead.

“This pandemic crystallised the value of PR but it also sharpened the PRCA’s purpose – we exist to unite and serve our professional community. We are proud of the critical support we delivered to industry professionals, irrespective of whether they were members. Whether lobbying the Chancellor for financial support or offering free membership to anyone made redundant, we fought our industry’s corner when it mattered. Our Annual Report reflects and celebrates the contributions of so many that helped drive a renewed sense of community in our industry.”

PRCA chair Rachel Friend said: “The pandemic had a profound impact on the global public relations and communication industry. COVID-19 claimed the lives of our colleagues, our friends, and our loved ones. For others, it ripped through the fabric of our professional and personal lives, stripping away the stability and structure many of us had taken for granted. It was a year of tragedy and disruption on an unimagined scale.

“But when we – as leaders of the PRCA – reflect on the impact of 2020 on PR and communications, our overwhelming sentiment will be a blend of pride and confidence.

“While 2020 took so much from us, our future will be defined not by what we lost but by what we retained and strengthened during this period: our purpose and resolute pride in serving this professional community.”

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