Industry survey: PR in numbers - the state of the nation

For the first time, the CIPR has produced a nationwide analysis of the size and value of the PR industry. Jane Simms reports

This week the CIPR unveiled a financial snapshot of the industry, described by president Chris Genasi as a 'critical step towards PR demonstrating its value'. The headline figures describe a £6.5bn-turnover industry that contributes £3.4bn to the British economy.

Most significantly, PR is estimated to provide £1.1bn of corporate profits.*

The survey, carried out by the the CIPR and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), was delivered at the
institute's annual conference on Wednesday (9 November). It reveals a profession that is much smaller than advertising – the latter employs around 80,000 people, each generating an estimated £231,000 in sales. But with 48,000 professionals, each responsible for £137,000 in sales, the PR industry is larger than the market research and public opinion polling sectors combined.

To compare the economic contribution of in-house teams with that of agencies, the researchers used Office of National Statistics best-practice guidelines. Thus, where the contribution of in-house staff is less easily measurable – ie. corporate profit and turnover/
budget – the in-house figure is extrapolated from typical agency figures.

Who works where?
The profession is shown to be dominated by in-house PR specialists, who account for 82 per cent of all PROs. The in-house sector has grown by 20 per cent over the past five years (compared with 14 per cent in consultancies) and is expected to continue to expand at the same rate for the next five years.

The public and not-for-profit sectors are among the heaviest users of PR. They account for 36 per cent of the turnover of all PR consultancies and employ more than half – 51 per cent – of all in-house PR professionals.

Spend on PR has risen by a third since 2000 to an annual average of £1.2m per organisation. However, in-house PR respondents predicted the current 6.2 per cent annual rise in spend will slow to 2.6 per cent by 2010.

Eighty per cent of consultancies and agencies employ fewer than 25 staff, with 60 per cent earning annual revenues below £1m. Meanwhile, more than 40 per cent of in-house PROs work for companies with a turnover above £100m, while 40 per cent work for companies with revenues of less than £10m.

The average annual basic salary of in-house PROs is £46,200. Agency staff earn an average of £51,000, while those in the not-for-profit and public sectors earn an average of £31,900 and £32,500 respectively.

The high level of qualifications in the industry is explained by the relative maturity of PROs in age terms. The average age is 40, with only five per cent being under 25 – this compares with 14 per cent of the national working population being aged 25 or under. However, just four per cent of PROs are over 60, compared with the national average of eight per cent – suggesting that either the industry is ageist or that people make so much money they can afford to retire early.

Corporate profits
The industry generates £1.1bn in corporate profits (assuming  the contribution of in-house PROs is valued the same as that of PR consultants). In the past five years, spend on PR activity has increased by a third.

Turnover/budgets whole industry
The turnover for the industry as a whole is £6.5bn The current combined turnover of public relations consultancies, agencies and freelances is estimated to be more than £1.2bn. Agency turnover grew by 5.9 per cent annually between 2000 and 2005. Between 2005 and 2010 growth is expected to be 11.6 per cent a year.

The Workforce
An estimated 47,800 people work in the PR industry across both agency and in-house sectors  Currently, the average number of employees per agency is 41. This is an increase of five per agency compared with 2000. By 2010 it is predicted the average PR agency will employ 54 people.

Almost half of the PR industry is based in London and the South East, with a quarter working in central London alone Scotland has the next largest PR community with nine per cent.

PR spend % breakdown
The average corporate organisation spent £1.7m
on PR activities, while the average not-for-profit body spent £400,000 The average corporate organisation had a total comms budget of £2m while the average not-for-profit body had a total comms budget of £1m.

Scale of firms with in-house PR resource
Forty-two per cent of in-house PROs work for companies with a turnover above £100m. The same proportion work for firms with revenues of less than £10m. The average size of in-house departments in the public and not-for-profit sectors has risen by 60 per cent in the past five years from three staff members to five. In the corporate sector the rise is 20 per cent, from eight to ten. The proportion of PR employees in public/not-for-profit in-house departments is expected to have more than doubled over ten years  from 0.8 per cent in 2000 to 1.8 per cent in 2010 Some 51 per cent of in-house PROs work in the public, health and charity sectors. The next largest sector is finance, which employs seven per cent.

Demographics % breakdown
The average age in the industry is the same as for the workforce at large – but the structure is very different The average age of a PR worker is 40 (In-house 38, agency 42); Only five per cent of PROs are under 25 (14 per cent nationally); Only four per cent of PROs are over 60 (eight per cent nationally).

Diversity, equality and education
6.5%have an ethnic minority background compared with the UK workforce average of eight per cent. Eleven per cent of in-house PROs describe themselves as non-white. However as nearly half of all PROs work in London, an imbalance is revealed – ethnic minorities make up almost 30 per cent of London's population. A Commission for Racial Equality spokesman says: 'Until the industry addresses this under-representation, it will fail to connect with the UK's ethnic minority community.'

62%of PROs are women, against 46 per cent of the workforce as a whole. 

31%is the wage gap between men and women, compared with the national average of 18 per cent. On average men earn £18,000 more than women, at £57,000 a year.

51%speak at least one foreign language with Cantonese, Lithuanian and Hebrew among the 36 listed by respondents.

74%are graduates most with a social science, arts or management studies background, and only a minority with communications or PR degrees.

Jane Simms recommends

Full survey results here

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