Are you considering an undergraduate course in business? One of the most popular post-graduation routes open to business students is a rewarding career in public relations and communications (PR). It’s one of the world’s most vibrant, exciting and professionally engaging sectors, where effort and dedication are well rewarded. But what are the realities of working in PR? Today we break down some of the key figures from a report by the Public Relations and Communications Association’s (PRCA) PR and Communications Census 2018 to give you an idea of what to expect.

What Are ‘PR and Communications’? 

In a word – reputation. PR is about managing the perceived value of individuals and organisations. If that sounds quite abstract, then you’re on the right wavelength. Honing in on what people value and believe, and in particular being able to predict what effect a specific action will have, is one of the essentials of PR. Likewise, understanding how certain perceptions drive people to act is a key component of PR. Perceived value encourages people to spend more on Apple products that have the same hardware as cheaper alternatives, it helps people to decide who to vote for, and it spurs consumers to boycott products. The final piece of the puzzle is communication – relaying information in a way that resonates with the intended audience.  As such, it can be an extremely varied role (if you can call it a role; PR professionals are still undecided on whether it’s a profession or an industry).  

The Size of the Industry 

Making sure celebs, politicians and corporations stay looking squeaky clean is no mean feat, and that’s why around 86,000 people work in PR in the UK, up from 83,000 in 2016. Unlike real currency, perceived value and reputation never depreciate, so expect to see the industry continue to grow indefinitely. PR is worth an estimated £13.8 billion-a-year to the British economy according to the PRCA report.  

Main Duties and Responsibilities of PR Staff 

As you may have guessed, the role of a PR professional is rather varied. However, the census did highlight the top duties workers in PR are tasked with: corporate public relations, communication strategy development and general media relations. Writing articles has decreased in importance, while online reputation management appears to be moving up in value. Take note all budding PR pros – these are the skills that will be useful in the future. It’s also worth mentioning that in-house PR professionals (as opposed to agency professionals) are diversifying, which means they spend less time on tasks directly related to PR. In-house PR positions might be a better application option if you have experience in other marketing functions.  

Salaries 

The average PR industry salary is a healthy £45,950, with in-house PR salaries a shade above (at £46,078) than their agency equivalent (£45,856). Those making their first steps into the biz will probably find themselves in junior executive roles, with a salary of £27,794 (up from £25,999 in 2016), and over half of the census participants received a yearly pay rise. 

Join us next time for more information on PR, including the industry’s gender pay gap, social mobility and how to make your first steps in PR. 

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