Institute for Public Relations and Public Relations Society of America Study Finds Employer-Funded Professional Development is Key to Retention

NEW YORK (October 18, 2017) –The Institute for Public Relations (IPR) and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) have released a new research study that found entry-level professionals in public relations have a wide range of expertise, including some gaps, in knowledge, skills,and abilities in core areas. The study also found that respondents were willing to improve their KSA gaps through professional development opportunities, especially if supported by their employer.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 16-to-34 age group will make up nearly 24 percent of the labor force in 2024. Understanding the strengths and gaps in KSAs is key to having a successful workforce. The survey of nearly 400 entry-level professionals with fewer than five years of experience also explored two areas which have received much attention in business, but have rarely been applied to public relations: Grit and Emotional Intelligence.

Key Findings include:

  • Entry-level professionals identified themselves as having advanced levels of knowledge in multiple areas of writing, critical thinking and public speaking. Conversely, entry-level professionals rated research capabilities and environmental scanning abilities as low. Surprisingly, results related to social media platforms for business use were mixed.
  • Entry-level professionals need to improve their business skills and ability to apply theories, and be able to apply business acumen, including financial literacy, to their everyday job responsibilities. They should also be steeped in theories to help understand attitudes and what drives behavior.
  • Nearly all (98%) respondents said they would be more open to learning new skills if their employer paid for all or part of their training. The majority reported paying out of their own pocket for new training programs. More than three-fourths of respondents (81%), said the degree to which their employer funded professional development was a significant factor in staying at their jobs for the next year.
  • Women rated themselves as grittier than men, with grit defined as perseverance or passion for long-term goals. However, compared to previous studies on grit, both female and male professionals rated themselves lower on their ability to work strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and lack of progress.
  • The study also gauged respondents’ Emotional Intelligence, which includes self-control, sociability, well-being and emotionality, which entry-level professionals rated themselves the lowest in, saying they find it difficult to recognize their internal emotional states and to express their feelings to others.

“Identifying the core capabilities and gaps in the industry’s entry-level professionals is critical to ensuring we have the best workforce we can in the profession,” said Dr. Tina McCorkindale, APR, President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations. “It’s clear that these professionals are willing to learn new skills, especially if paid for by their employer, which is great news for the profession.”

“Hiring managers continue to tell us that they evaluate new professionals based on their skills, grit and emotional intelligence,” said Laura Kane, Chief Communications Officer of PRSA. “These insights provide us with a roadmap for rolling out professional development opportunities for current and future members.”

For the full report, please go to:

About the Institute for Public Relations
The Institute for Public Relations is an independent, nonprofit research foundation dedicated to fostering greater use of research and research-based knowledge in corporate communication and the public relations practice. IPR is dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations™. IPR provides timely insights and applied intelligence that professionals can put to immediate use. All research, including a weekly research letter, is available for free at

About the Public Relations Society of America
PRSA is the nation’s largest professional organization serving the communications community. The organization’s mission is to make communications professionals smarter, better prepared and more connected through all stages of their career. PRSA achieves this by offering its members thought leadership, innovative lifelong learning opportunities to help them develop new skills, enhance their credibility and connect with a strong network of professionals. The organization sets the standards of professional excellence and ethical conduct for the public relations industry. PRSA collectively represents more than 30,000 members consisting of communications professionals spanning every industry sector nationwide and college and university students who encompass the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Learn more about PRSA at

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Media Contacts:
Rod Granger
Director, Public Relations & Communications

Sarah Jackson
Communications Manager
Institute for Public Relations

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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