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CIPR State of the Profession report reveals public relations practitioners adapt and innovate to prove their worth at the highest level

March 20, 2013


CIPR last month released its annual ‘State of the Profession’ survey; a benchmarking study of CIPR’s members’ views and their working life in public relations.


Despite economic uncertainty, the public relations sector has quietly continued to adapt and innovate in response to the challenges it faces. In order to stave off the effects of a global economic downturn, PR teams are responding by working more closely with other departments than ever before. At the same time, practitioners are increasingly taking on areas of responsibility that were previously handled elsewhere. Practitioners have to adapt due to economic constraints, but does adaptation mean evolution?


We asked practitioners what the future holds. Overwhelmingly they put digital and social media at the top of the list, suggesting an expected prioritisation of digital in the future. Other big challenges cited over the next 5 years included crisis management, strategic planning and research, planning and measurement, indicating that even though the industry is evolving, it’s not relinquishing the principles and priorities of old.


To tackle the challenges of the future, practitioners will need the required skills. An overwhelming majority of respondents (95%) are satisfied that they have the appropriate skills and knowledge required at the current time, but when asked if they felt the same way about the future, more people tended to question whether they were prepared to deal with change. To adequately face and conquer the challenges of the future, professionals will need to spend more of their time developing their own skills; otherwise they may find they will suffer.


Advertising Value Equivalence is dealt a hefty blow in this year’s report. A large majority of PR practitioners agreed that AVE does not represent the value of PR. In line with this, support for greater professionalisation of the industry is burgeoning, with four out of five practitioners agreeing that they should be regulated by a code of conduct. This support for accountability, professionalism and ethical conduct is not to be under estimated; professionals want to perform at the highest level and be recognised for doing so.


Salaries differed across roles and regions, but nowhere is the contrast so stark than across gender. The mean salary for men is a considerable £15,520 higher than that of women, and at the same time men are also three times as likely as women to earn more than £150,000. This is, of course, directly linked to the fact that men are almost twice as likely as women to be directors, partners or MDs. We need to work together to come up with the answers as to why, in a profession dominated by women at almost every other level, does a barrier exist at the very top level of the industry?


For all of the insight gained, there are still many questions to emerge from this year’s State of the Profession report. Chief amongst them; how do we prepare our practitioners for challenges of the future? A sector proven robust in economic turbulence, with practitioners who consistently rise and conquer new challenges; ours is a profession gathering speed. We are already busy digesting the information and utilising it to strengthen existing functions and develop new supporting materials and strategy. The PR profession is in a good state for the future, now let’s make it stronger.


CIPR State of the Profession survey was conducted in partnership with ComRes. 1,273 CIPR members were surveyed online between 21 November 2012 and 9 January 2013. The survey was conducted according to the Code of Conduct of the Market Research Society.


CIPR 2012/2013 State of the Profession Report

CIPR 2012/2013 State of the Profession Report highlights – infographic


Founded in 1948, the CIPR is the professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK. With 10,000 members involved in all aspects of PR, it is the largest body of its type in Europe. The CIPR advances the public relations profession in the UK by making its members accountable through a code of conduct, developing policies, representing its members and raising standards through education and training.