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The more it changes the more it stays the same

Plenty has been written about last week’s PR Census but from a business perspective there are a number of findings that are worth giving serious consideration, as they will impact your ability to grow your business or deliver for your organisation.

The good news is that the PR sector is growing. Its 34% up over the last three years and now valued at £12.9 billion and employs some 83,000 people, up 21,000.

But some things don’t seem to have changed dramatically since I joined my first agency in 1987.

64% of us working in PR are women. Although on average they are paid £9,111 less than the men in the sector. As I write this is am 24 years older than the average PR who is 28. 91% of us are white and 89% are British. Not the most diverse workforce in the country.

While evaluation is on the rise a staggering 30% of programmes and campaigns are not evaluated at all and 16% are measured using worthless advertising value equivalents (AVEs).


A sector that is dominated by teams made up of white British is hardly ideally placed to run campaigns that need to reach a multi-ethnic population. The need for deep cultural understanding is even more important as we spend more of our time on social campaigns that directly reach communities without the filter of traditional media.

There is good news. The younger the practitioner is the less likely they are to be white British. Although once you get to the boardroom 88% of those sitting round the table will be white British, the highest percentage of all parts of PR.

The average age for the sector indicates to me that we are still struggling to work out how to retain and charge for more experienced practitioners. While I maybe biased thus seems to be a shortfall that must negatively impact our ability to provide the very best advice to clients and senior management.

The gap in pay between men and women just seems to be bad for business, as well as indefensible.


Thousands of words have been written on the need for robust evaluation in PR, so I am not going to labour the point other than say that your reputation and budget if you are an in-house team and profits as an agency rely on you being able to provide value. You are not gong to be able to do this unless your objectives are measurable and certainly not by using AVEs (steps down from soap box). No real excuse for this. If you are running one of the 30% of campaigns that are not evaluated take a look at the PR Professionals Guide to Measurement from AMEC and the PRCA.

Overall we are in good shape but we face a number of structural issues that we must address, if we can, the good times can continue.