The new study into the size of the UK public relations sector conducted for the CIPR (no link as it’s in the members’ area) gives a headline figure of 48,000 people employed in UK public relations. It’s a useful and credible figure – but the suggested 80,000 who work in advertising to me seems improbable. (I can accept that the advertising industry turns over more money than PR, but not that it employs more people…) Of the PR numbers, 82 per cent work in-house (just 18 per cent work in consultancies or freelance). The report conjectures that the UK public relations sector is worth £6.5 billion.
The more surprising figures come from the demographics of PR staff. Apparently the average age of those working in PR is 40 years (with only 5 per cent being under 25). The report claims the average consultant is 42 years old – this seems improbably high. Almost two thirds are female (no surprise there). Degree qualifications are slightly lower amongst consultants than in-house practitioners.
An average basic salary is claimed to be £46,000 (over £51,000 for consultancy staff). Like the ages of those in PR, these figures look to me to be rather high to be averages. The report is heavy on impressive-looking graphs, but light on methodology: the total sample size of the members’ survey was 692 respondents, heavily weighted in favour of director-level staff (hence the higher ages and salaries indicated). It’s a much-needed study: but I fear it has tried too hard to pander to our need to be seen as a growing and substantial profession.