Earlier this week, I was asked if a graduate in public relations would be fast-tracked to a higher salary. This came to mind when reading Flush Times Ahead for PR Pros (link from Media Mindshare) which cites the 11th annual survey by Spring Associates showing rising salaries in the profession in the US.
The US study shows a particular emphasis on bonus payments at the junior end – where an in-house comms executive salary of $70k (down 1% on a year earlier) is boosted by a bonus of $5,767 – up 27%. Agency side, is much less rewarding for those starting out in PR. An account exec receives an average basic of $47k (up 11.8%) with a $2,950 bonus (up 46.5%)
A quick scan of jobs in today’s PR Week (UK edition) shows account assistant salaries around £18k-£20k with some agencies paying less and in-house communication officer jobs slightly higher. Senior account executive and in-house PR Manager jobs range from mid-£20k to mid-£30k. There are a couple of director level corporate vacancies at £90k-£120k, but the majority “head of…” jobs carry either a “competitive salary” or a range that covers anything from £37k to £66k. (Interestingly no mention of bonus payments here.)
Most jobs seek experience (age discrimination legislation means they are not more specfic), but none request CIPR membership or a qualification in PR (although many specify general education to degree level).
[One vacancy for a university lecturer does mentions a professional qualification in PR and/or equivalent industry experience and either membership or ability to become a member of CIPR (as the programme is seeking accreditation from the Institute).]
I’m not sure whether the UK reflects the bouyant PR salaries market indicated by the US data. My feeling is that times are tough here, especially for consultancies where margins are being squeezed (indicated by the US study where billing rates are rising slowly). On both sides of the Atlantic, I believe there is increased pressure on working long hours, with unpaid overtime.
We offer a free JobSearch service to MIPAA members, and I gather that the biggest challenge for anyone recruiting in PR at the moment is finding good talent.
Being a member of CIPR and studying for a degree in PR ought to be criteria to highlight those with an enthusiasm and commitment for the profession – but this is not recognised in job adverts.
Regardless of having a qualification in PR – or making the commitment to be a member of a professional body – the key to being rewarded for your talent is to build a personal reputation. Know your own value – invest in developing skills and contacts – and boost your ability to market yourself.
There are no guarantees of fast-track salaries for graduates – even if you are fortunate to be recruited onto a corporate or consultancy scheme. But with good talent at a premium, you can maximise your potential to earn at the highest levels.