Bill PaarlbergThis is the third in a series of IPR blog posts summarizing the results of the 2013 European Communication Monitor (ECM). The ECM is an annual longitudinal trans-national survey of European communications professionals, first carried out in 2007. It describes itself as, “the largest survey on strategic communication, corporate communications, communication management, and public relations worldwide.” The 2013 version asked 39 questions and received 2,710 responses from 43 countries. You can download the report here. See the first post in this series for a review of the survey’s overall demographics, methodology, and results, and the second post for results concerning strategic issues and influence.

This post summarizes the ECM results on salaries and status. Note that it’s often difficult to interpret survey results, especially when they are expressed as averages across countries, types of organizations, and job titles. There is much more detail in this report than this quick summary can cover, so please refer to the report itself before you start citing the results. It’s well-written and easy to navigate.

Envy or Schadenfreude? The Short Answer

Perhaps the reason you are reading this is to find out how your salary and status compares to that of your confreres in Europe. If so, then here’s your quick answer:

  • You envy those working in northern and western Europe, (where most say their status has increased), and especially in Norway or Denmark (where most PR pros say they make at least €60,000).
  • On the other hand, you’re probably glad you’re not working in eastern Europe (where fewest report their status has increased), and especially in Romania or Serbia, (where most make less than €30,000).

Status and Budgets

The ECM asked respondents to what extent they agreed with the following three questions concerning status and budgets:

  1. Communication has become more important for the overall success of organizations.
  2. The influence and status of my current role as a communication professional has increased.
  3. Budgets for communication have been increased above average, compared to other functions.

Influence and importance are up, but budgets lag

Really good news: 87% of communication department pros state that communication has become more important for the overall success of their organization. This positive development is visible all over Europe, with Austria, Norway, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Poland leading the field.

Fairly good news: Only 62% say the influence and status of their current role has increased.

Not-so-good news: Only 15% say their budgets have increased more than the average of other functions in their organization. And the trend is not heartening: Compared to the ECM of 2010, more respondents say their budgets and resources are reduced above average (41% now vs. 37% then), and fewer say their budget have increased above average (15% now vs. 22% then).

Time out: Let’s pause for just a moment and consider the above questions carefully. What do those numbers really mean? Respondents were asked if their own jobs were becoming more important, and if their own influence/status was increasing. Shouldn’t we expect a little bias here? Wouldn’t it be interesting if the respondents’ CEOs were asked the same question? But wait a minute, they were asked that, in a way: If their CEOs thought their roles were actually becoming more important, then we’d expect the CEO to respond with an increased budget. So it’s tempting to think that the response gap between the “importance” and “budget” questions reflects how overconfident respondents are in their own importance. Just for fun, I computed the response gap for each country: The UK, Austria, and Germany were highest.

Now back to the results. There are large regional and inter-country differences. It’s a good time to work in western or northern Europe, where many more people report that their influence and status has increased, compared with southern and eastern Europe. This sentiment is highest in Norway and Denmark where one third of respondents also report rising budgets, roughly double that in other countries.

Budgets also vary between types of organization, with joint stock companies doing worse than private companies, governmental organizations, or non-profits.

Optimism: The glass is 59% full

59% of respondents are optimistic about the futures of their careers. Which, implies tremendous sanguineness on the part of European PR pros, considering that their budgets (see above) and salaries (see below) do not appear to be keeping pace with how important they think their roles are. This does not vary much between types of organizations, but does vary strongly between countries, with northern and western Europe being much more optimistic than southern and eastern. Those in Slovenia, for instance, have the least full glass, at 34% optimistic, whereas those in Norway are approaching runneth-over status at 87%.

Strategy pays off: A strategic role, that is

Influence, status, and optimism vary strongly between professional roles, with those involved in strategy and coordination reporting the highest, closely followed by consultancy, advising, and coaching. Reporting the lowest influence, status, and optimism are those involved in government affairs, lobbying, marketing, and consumer communication. Still, more than half of these respondents feel optimistic and that their influence and status are increasing.

Salaries in Slow Decline, with Large Regional Variations

There is some not-so-good news here: “The findings suggest communication professionals were often not able to profit from the increasing importance of strategic communication by leveraging their personal income.” Stated more directly, annual ECM data since 2009 implies that salaries are dropping. The trend is for lower salary categories to increase in numbers of respondents and higher salary categories to decrease.

Variance between countries is so large, however, that the ECM’s overall figures are probably not very informative. At the low end of the pay scale, well over half of respondents from eastern Europe make less than €30,000, whereas only 6% do so in western Europe. At the high end of the pay scale, few respondents who are heads of communication and agency CEOs from northern Europe make less than €60,000 a year, but most respondents in those positions in southern and eastern Europe do.


Bill Paarlberg is the editor of The Measurement Standard and has been editing one newsletter or another about public relations measurement since 1992.

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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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