Ten years of State of the Profession: Shining a light on the PR industry

2009: best remembered as the year we lost Michael Jackson, for the heroics of Captain Sullenberger landing an airliner safely in the Hudson river, getting Rage Against the Machine to Christmas number one and, of course, the first ever State of the Profession – CIPR’s now annual survey.

That makes this year’s State of the Profession its tenth consecutive year. Thanks to your help, for the last decade, we have been able to reveal the pressing issues and trends impacting the world of public relations. By taking part in this year’s survey you can help us tell this year’s story. But how do we at CIPR use the results?

A lot has changed in 10 years. A lot hasn’t. We know the profession has continually grown, we know practitioners are largely London based, we know the profession is predominantly female, we know practitioners spent most their time at work in 2011 on media relations and corporate communications compared to copywriting and editing and PR campaigns in 2018. But the research goes beyond merely providing us with a snapshot of what the profession looks like – it provides us with the opportunity to see trends and challenges that you are facing.

As a membership body this two way conversation is crucial; it’s our responsibility to tell you about upcoming issues that will impact your work such as artificial intelligence, GDPR, gender pay reporting. But for us to represent you effectively we need information from you about the challenges you’re facing and State of the Profession provides us with a unique opportunity to facilitate this. A great example of this can be found in this year’s survey. Last year showed there was a 10% rise (from 6% to 16%) of those who identified as having a mental health condition. There could be a number of reasons for this so to explore this further we have, with the help of the mental health charity Mind, added a series of questions on this issue, the results of which may determine how we approach our work on addressing mental wellbeing in the profession.

The survey results also influences our approach to issues such as the gender pay gap and diversity, both of which show worrying trends; the gender pay gap, after regression analysis rose from £5,784 in 2016 to £6,725 in 2017. And despite an increasing number of PR professionals believing diverse teams improve PR practice (up from 59% to 65% between 2016 and 2017), the profession shows no sign of becoming more diverse – in 2017 96% of the population of public relations was ethnically white, up from 90% in 2013.

Thanks to the survey we also have facts and figures at our fingertips ready for journalists or students when discussing topical issues. For example in 2017 we showed that 14% of respondents said they had implemented new strategies due to Brexit, while 36% said their organisation would be doing so. We also discovered only 8% of the profession believe Brexit would have a positive impact on the profession. Back in 2011 “green shoots of recovery” were being felt in the profession following the financial crash of 2008; across the industry just a fifth (20%) were worried about the prospect of redundancy, down from 28% the previous year.

Finally, the results of the survey instruct us what we need to offer you. Last year’s survey showed that recruiters value people and resource management as the skill most required when recruiting PR staff, something that didn’t feature in the skills practitioners identified as having. Amongst our range of management courses we launched Leadership and Management courses to help you address this.

Whether you are a CIPR member or not, senior or junior practitioner, living in or outside the UK, working in-house, agency or as an independent practitioner I hope you will take a short time to complete the survey.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash


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