THURSDAY 4 APR 2019 11:08 AM


While good public relations are integral to a company’s maintenance of a favourable relationship with its audience, ironically, the industry with the purpose of helping corporations present a strong image has a concerning image problem of its own.

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is a professional body based in the UK for public relations employees. Its annual ‘State of the Profession’ study, which examines the trends, issues and challenges facing public relations, is the most comprehensive study of PR in existence, featuring data-driven insights into facets ranging from skills and salaries to diversity and gender pay.

For the 2019 edition, the CIPR partnered with research organisation Chalkstream. The findings range from encouraging to discouraging. On one hand, average salaries in the profession increased to £53,000 from £51,570, and most in-house PR teams or consultancies are either growing or stable in size. A third promising development the study has uncovered is the pay inequality gap between men and women has decreased to £5,202 from £6,725.

Unfortunately, the trend towards a more equal workforce in PR ends there. According to the research, 28% of PR employees come from a background of private education, which is more than four times the average amount across other industries. Furthermore, privately educated professionals earn about £13,000 more per year than state-educated colleagues. Additionally, and perhaps most shockingly, an overwhelming 92% of PR workers identify as white. This imbalance between whites and minorities proves antithetical to the widely-held perception among PR-veterans suggesting work is more effective when performed by a diverse group. Emma Leech, CIPR president, says, “Diversity is an issue we must tackle head on. Talent doesn’t have a postcode and isn’t determined by skin colour. Our industry has to work harder to be inclusive.”

The diversity epidemic plaguing the PR world is coupled with a mental health epidemic, as 21% of PR professionals have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. More alarmingly, 53% of those professionals said work contributed significantly to their diagnosis.

In a world in which diversity, mental health and equal opportunity have become more essential to the social conversation than ever before, the ‘State of the Profession’ study indicates PR has a long way to go to be at the conversation’s forefront.