Iliyana's Blog

The State of the PR Profession and the Massive Gender Gap

[fa icon="calendar"] 21-Feb-2013 09:43:00 / by Iliyana Stareva

On Tuesday the CIPR (The climbing the career ladder - gender gapChartered Institute of Public Relations – the professional body for PR practitioners in the UK) released the findings of the annual ‘State of the Profession’ benchmarking survey, which examines issues around the public relations practice, budgets, skills and opinion on the future of the industry in the UK. Having gathered insights from over 1,200 CIPR members between November 2012 and January 2013, the overall results show that despite the challenging economic climate public relations practitioners have been putting successful efforts into adapting and innovating to prove the profession’s worth at the highest level.

PR practitioners have been developing new skills and undertaking responsibilities and roles, which have not been previously considered part of the public relations remit. The reason behind this lies in the efforts of PR practitioners to influence both communications and business strategy in the boardroom as the need for PR activities rises with the growing need for reputation management and effective engagement in the world of social media. This means that PRs are increasingly being involved in company strategy and planning, which is a very good sign for the future of the profession.

Some highlights:

  • Moving away from the primary media relations focus and embracing new media to drive two-way conversations.
  • Massive gap between salaries for men and women and gender imbalance in roles.
  • Greater cooperation between departments (Marketing, HR, IT etc).
  • Struggles to affect higher level business decisions (it the boardroom).
  • Social media is the biggest challenge for PR practitioners, followed by crisis management, research, planning and measurement.

What I personally find very disturbing is that on average men in the industry continue to earn more money than women and that this hasn’t changed much over the years (just check the survey findings of the exact research from previous years).

Half of men get more than £50,000 compared to just a quarter of women and men are three times more likely than women to earn more than £150,000. Women’s median salary is £46,860 while men’s is £62,380 – that’s a difference of £15,520. Shocking!

Also, even though the PR industry is predominantly dominated by women, it is men who are almost twice as likely as women to be directors, partners or MDs.

I wonder why is that? Why such a massive gender gap?

I read an interesting article by Stephen Waddington on his blog the other day, which summarised the discussions PR practitioners have had on LinkedIn about the gender imbalance issue in PR. While there were some insightful thoughts in there, I still didn’t find an answer to why men seem to be ‘better’ at climbing the career ladder. Living in the 21st century, I just don’t think it’s fair. Women are just as capable as men and it is discouraging for a young female student entering the profession to see such figures that are sadly fact and reality.

Back to the survey, it sure provides some very good insights about the profession and shows what areas practitioners and the industry in general need to work on to secure a bright future for the profession.

Here’s the infographic that summarises the findings of the 2012/2013 ‘State of the Profession’ to give you some more details:

CIPR State of the PR Profession benchmarking survey results

Image courtesy of Ambro/

Topics: Public Relations

Iliyana Stareva

Written by Iliyana Stareva

Iliyana Stareva is the author of Inbound PR - the book that is transforming the PR industry. She's also a keynote speaker and a consultant in inbound and digital for fast-growing companies and agencies. Currently, Iliyana is Chief of Staff to the EMEA President at ServiceNow. Before that, she held global and EMEA-wide positions at Cisco and HubSpot. She is also certified by the PMI as a Project Management Professional (PMP)®. In her free time, you can find Iliyana writing for her blog, dancing salsa or travelling the world.

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