Some 15 per cent of respondents said they would leave the industry after just one or two years and 32 per cent said they thought they would leave in between two and five years. A further 27 per cent said they would remain in PR for between five and ten years.
When asked what they would do if they could go back and choose a career again today, only 51 per cent said they would pick PR.
PRCA director-general Patrick Barrow said: ‘This is a social trend, although problems in the PR industry do make it more acute.'
He cited the agency model putting ‘disproportionate pressure on those at the bottom of the heap', ‘debt burdens' and the fact some female-dominated sectors are more likely to lose staff to maternity as particular issues for the industry.
He also said the industry could be lazy when developing staff, as there is ‘never a shortage' of people wanting to start PR careers.
The survey also showed the desire of many consultancy PROs to move in-house, with only 49 per cent saying they are happy to remain in consultancy. Another nine per cent wanted to leave to go travelling or take time out.
Some 79 PROs working at senior account manager level or below responded to the survey, which was conducted by online survey resource Zoomerang in December 2006.
Nelson Bostock account manager Julie Burley is on the PRCA FrontLine executive committee. She has been in PR for three years:
‘In some ways, I found the results of our survey quite positive. I was happy to see an increased emphasis on training - it gave the impression that companies are looking after their staff.
‘But it didn't surprise me that many people want to change careers eventually. PR is a fast-paced industry - you learn a lot in a short space of time, and then you move on.
‘It would be really interesting to do a follow-up survey to find out why people are leaving the industry. I would guess many of the people who said they would leave PR will stay in communications, but may veer towards marketing rather than press relations, possibly because they are hoping for a more relaxed life.'