What does the future hold for the public relations profession? In light of the pandemic, that’s a question that is increasingly difficult to answer. How our work is valued may have increased in recent months – the importance and desire for clear and consistent communications has been one of the lessons of the pandemic and in a recent survey over half of respondents reported their organisation placed ‘a lot’ of value on communications during the emergency. But the impact Covid-19 will have on talent, salaries, on the job training, skills, diversity, wellbeing and the very nature of our work is yet to be seen.

If we’re looking forward to where we want to be, it is always worth a look back at where we were and there is no better place to start than CIPR’s annual State of the Profession survey. For ten years the report has reported on trends, issues, and challenges impacting public relations, presenting industry-leading data on a range of aspects relating to the PR profession. The report explores skills, salaries, diversity, challenges facing the profession, and allows us to authoritatively comment on how the profession has changed over the years.

The survey captured data from before the Covid-19 pandemic but highlights an increasingly professional community serious about continuous professional development, interested in becoming chartered, and recognising the benefits of what being part of a professional body can deliver.

A profession “out of step” with the public
The report reveals the profession is as far away as ever from its aspiration to reflect the stakeholder groups it works with; 37% believe family background has a positive impact on one’s career, a belief shared by only 20% of the public.

A shrinking gender pay gap
The gender pay gap has shrunk by 46% over three years and is now £3,658. However, the gap widens with experience and can vastly differ depending on the type of organisation you work in.

Still failing to address the lack of diversity 
The profession is still failing to show substantial progress on addressing the lack of ethnic diversity within the profession – more than nine in ten practitioners are white.

Positively, we have a profession that, to many, feels and acts like a community. That’s not by accident and, in the challenging times, that can prove an incredibly valuable resource.
We can also see a continued drive towards practitioners evidencing their professionalism. The impact of the pandemic will undoubtedly hit the profession in a number of ways, but this provides hope and assurances of a resilience which I believe will help us come back stronger.

View the full study to learn more about the state of the profession.

Jon Gerlis MCIPR, PR and Policy Manager at the Chartered Institute of 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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