Academic journal article Public Relations Journal

Sixth Annual Salary Survey

Academic journal article Public Relations Journal

Sixth Annual Salary Survey

Article excerpt

The current recession has affected salary growth in the public relations profession, according to Public Relations Journal's Sixth Annual Salary Survey. The study reveals PRJ readers have a median salary of $43,718. This is up a small amount from last year's results. In all categories, the survey shows slow overall salary growth over the last year.

Analysis of the survey respondents and data also reveals other effects of the recession on PRJ's readership and changes in the mix of specialties represented. The number of respondents from the corporate sector declined by 24%. This suggests that as corporate America has tightened its belt, public relations practitioners have experienced job cuts, layoffs and early retirements. A severe drop has occurred in the "smoke-stack industries," such as manufacturing and utilities, as well as in the financial services area. The number of respondents from the government/health care/non-profit sector, particularly in education, increased by 20%.

While men's salaries top those of women in all breakdowns by title, region and age, the gender gap in salaries has narrowed over the last year. The great majority of respondents of both sexes rejected the statement that it is harder for men than women to reach top-level positions. The converse, that it is harder for women than men to reach the top in public relations, was a majority view of women but not men in the 1990 survey.

Specific salary, bonus and attitude breakdowns follow.

Salary growth slows

The median public relations salary in 1990 as reported by respondents was $43,718. This is 1.2% higher than it was last year. The survey results are based on 2,606 responses to a survey mailed to 6,231 PRJ subscribers, a 42% response rate. The results are projectable to the PRJ readership as a whole, but not necessarily to the entire public relations profession. All the percentages reported in this article were tested for statistical significance. The margin of error is [+ or -] 3%. (See "Survey method and sample description," page 18.)

Men continue to earn more than women. The median salary for men is $53,977, compared to $37,621 for women. While men earn 43% more than women, the gender gap has narrowed relative to last year, when the median salary for men was 49% higher than it was for women. The increase in the median salary for women between last year and this year was 4.7%. For men, it was just .6%.

For all respondents, regardless of gender, the median reported salary raise in 1990 was 7%. This is an increased of 17% over the reported median raise of 6% in 1989. The 17% increase in the median overall raise is only slightly higher than the increase in the cost of living. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of living rose from 4.8% in 1989 to 5.4% in 1990--a 12.5% increase year-to-year.

Corporate salaries remain higher

Among account executives and account supervisors, the highest median salaries are earned by respondents in corporations. (See table, page 15.) Account executives (including junior and senir account executives, associates/representatives and assistants) at corporations report a median salary of $31,046. This is approximately 7% higher than the median salaries reported by account executives in public relations firms ($28,957) and government/health care/non-profit organizations ($28,822).

Among account supervisors (including account supervisors, supervisors/managers, coordinators, group managers, directors and vice presidents), the highest median salaries reported by respondents are at corporations ($51,572). The lowest median salaries are in government/health care/non-profit organizations ($40,390). Account supervisors' salaries at public relations firms are nearly halfway between those at corporations and those at non-profits ($45,814).

At senior management levels (including senior/executive vice presidents, senior counselors, chairmen/presidents, partners and owners), the median salaries reported at corporations ($85,115) and in government/health care/non-profit organizations ($87,162) are considerably higher than the median salary at public relations firms ($68,982). …

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