Key takeouts from the CIPR’s State of the Profession 2018 report

Growth of the public relations profession, mental health issues on the rise, and industry’s failure to bridge the diversity gap. Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has today released its State of the Profession. Here are key takeouts from the report.

#1 The industry is growing

A rather promising stat to being with. CIPR’s survey reveals that there are currently 71,000 public relations practitioners in the UK. The figure has grown by 22% (from 58,000) over the past four year. The agencies, consultancies and in-house teams identify their workforces as ‘growing’ or ‘stable’.

state-of-profession-CIPR-2018-1

(see: P9 of the report)

#2 PR’s perception as the biggest challenge

The industry bodies have been bravely campaigning for PR’s recognition as a strategic discipline. However, industry’s perception and image won’t change overnight. As the State of the Profession study shows, respondents still consider that under-representation of public relations practitioners at board level is currently the biggest challenge facing the industry.

Some of the other challenges mentioned by respondents were changing social and digital landscapeunethical public relations practice, and  an expanding skill set required of professionals.

#3 Public relations professionals earn more

Another positive finding of the report was that the average salaries for full-time practitioners grew from £50,447 in 2017 to £51,570 in 2018. The results, however, showed significant variations according to gender, age and location. As the CIPR reveals, public relations professionals working outside the UK, as well as those in London, the South East and the Channel Islands have the highest average annual income. Those in Northern Ireland and East Midlands earn the least.

state-of-profession-CIPR-2018-2(see: P18 of the report)

State of the Profession has also looked into gender pay gap. CIPR highlights that men are paid an average of £6,725 more than women in public relations. The study reveals that the gap between the female and male salaries has fallen slightly, to an average of £11,156 in 2018.

state-of-profession-CIPR-2018-1(see: P19 of the report)

#4 PR has a diversity gap

CIPR highlights PR’s “Diversity Gap”. Its population research suggests that in 2017, 96% of the population of public relations was ethnically white, up from 90% in 2013. State of the Profession data also reveals that PR professionals are increasingly likely to believe that ethnic diversity contributes to improved PR practice. This rose from 59% to 65% between 2016 and 2017.

#5 Mental health issues on rise

Worryingly, roughly one in six (16%) of PR practitioners completing the survey said that they have a mental health condition. This figure has more than doubled since last year, as only 6% of pros reported mental health conditions in the last edition of the research. As CIPR highlights, this increase could be attributed to greater awareness about mental health in society and industry.


“This year’s State of the Profession survey underlines the challenges for the public relations industry. Practitioners remain predominately tactical. The CIPR’s role must be to equip them with boardroom skills,” comments on the results Sarah Hall, CIPR President.

“There are two outcomes to achieve here. By focusing on financial, business management and consultancy competencies we can command the respect of management teams by speaking their language and by demonstrating the true value of public relations, increase investment in it.

“Of concern within the research is the increasing number of senior female professionals leaving the industry. This coupled with the issue of the gender pay gap merits further research.

“The increase of practitioners reporting a mental health condition is a reminder for us all that PR is a very demanding business – employee wellbeing and people-first strategies must always be prioritised,” concluded Sarah.


Make sure to follow CIPR on Twitter: @CIPR_UK

You can read CIPR’s State of the Profession in full here: cipr.co.uk/StateofPR

You can watch the summary of the report here:

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Author: Marcel Klebba

Account executive at a global communications agency, working across the B2B, fintech, and corporate accounts. Interested in current affairs, tech, and digital.

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