Academic journal article Public Relations Journal

Seventh Annual Salary Survey

Academic journal article Public Relations Journal

Seventh Annual Salary Survey

Article excerpt

The public relations profession is starting to emerge from the recession that salary growth last year, according to results of Public Relations Journal's Seventh Annual Salary Survey. The survey results show PRJ readers have an annual median salary of $46,556, a 6.5% increase over last year's median salary of $43,718.

Some ripple effects of the recession, however, are still being felt, the study shows. This is particularly true at corporations, which continued to experience a loss of public relations positions. The study also found a widening salary gender gap, strong divisions of opinion over questions of career advancement, particularly for women, and the persistence of the perception that public relations is a low-paying profession.

At the same time, the responses to several new questions about trends in employment and attitudes toward public relations show that PRJ readers have relatively optimistic views about the profession's future. Compared to 1991, PRJ readers expect more job growth at their organizations or departments in 1992, particularly at public relations firms. The study also reveals a widespread belief that, compared to five years ago, public relations professionals enjoy more respect from the media and are more involved in providing strategic advice to top management.

Salary growth faster

Salaries grew faster in the past year than in the year before, and kept ahead of the cost of living. While the median public relations salary in 1991, $43,718, was only 1.2% higher than the 1990 median salary, the 1992 median salary, $46,556, is, as noted above, 6.5% higher than the median salary in 1991.

These 1992 figures are based on 2,019 responses to a survey mailed to 4,260 subscribers, a 47% response rate. The results can be projected to the PRJ readership as a whole, but not necessarily to the entire public relations profession, or to those who are not PRJ subscribers or readers. The margin of error on this sample is +/-3%, and all the percentages in this article were tested for statistical significance (see "Survey method and sample description," page 16).

The median reported salary raise from 1991 to 1992 was 6% for all respondents, regardless of gender. This is a decrease of 1 percentage point, or 14%, from the reported raise of 7% from 1990 to 1991. Even so, salary raises kept ahead of the cost of living which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, declined by 1.2 percentage points, from 5.4% in 1990 to 4.2% in 1991. This translates to a 22% decrease in the cost of living.

As in previous studies, the highest median salary, $52,333, is at corporations (see Figure 1, above). This is 12% higher than the median salary at public relations firms ($46,863) and 26% higher than the median salary at government/health care/non-profit organizations ($41,421). But, this year's survey found that salaries tended to grow faster in corporations and the non-profit sector than at firms. While the median corporate salary rose 7% between this year and last year, and the median salary at government/health care/non-profit organizations was up 6%, the growth in the median salary at firms was only 1%.

Corporate salaries higher

Corporations pay more at every job level. Account executives (including junior and senior account executives, associates/representatives and assistants) at corporations report a median salary of $35,724. This is 17% higher than the $30,429 median salary for account executives in government/health care/non-profit organizations, and 27% higher than the median salary for account executives at public relations firms: $28,132 (see Figure 1).

Relative to last year, the median salary for account executives at corporations rose 15%, compared to a 6% increase for the median account executive's salary at government/health care/non-profit organizations and a 3% decrease for the median account executive's salary at firms. …

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