For Those Who Still Have A Job, PR Salaries Hold - Bonuses Take A Big Hit

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Overall, average corporate communications base salaries increased 2.2% compared with the previous year's 3.8%. PR agency base salaries increased 2.5% compared to the previous year's decrease of 3.9%. Bonuses however, are down an average of 34%.

Spring Associates, Inc., public relations executive search and consulting firm has published its compensation findings in the 13th annual corporate communications and public relations compensation study called The Official PR Salary & Bonus Report© - 2009 Edition.

Salary, bonus and other data are compiled and analyzed using Spring Associates private database containing detailed job information on more than 20,000 credentialed PR corporate and agency professionals nationwide. The data is collected on a daily basis from direct contact between PR professionals and Spring Associates.

Here are some informational snippets from the Report….

Overall, average corporate communications base salaries increased 2.2% compared with the previous year's 3.8%. PR agency base salaries increased 2.5% compared to the previous year's decrease of 3.9%.

The nine "key metro cities" (those with the greatest number of PR professionals), New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas/Houston, Washington DC, and San Francisco as a group, posted an average salary increase of 2.5% vs last year's 4.2% for PR firms, and an average increase of 2.2% vs the previous year's 4.0% for corporate communications departments.

The five major regions of the country - northeast, southeast, midwest, southwest and west, (excluding the nine key metro cities), reveals that corporate communications average salaries were up 2.1% vs 3.3% while PR agency average salaries increased by 2.4% vs last year's 3.2%.

Salary Title Highlights
Corporate Specialists:            regionally +2.6             9 key metro cities +2.2
Corporate Directors:        regionally +2.3             9 key metro cities +2.2
Agency Account Execs:            regionally +3.7             9 key metro cities +3.2
Agency Exec VPs:                regionally +2.6             9 key metro cities +2.4

Bonuses (substantial decreases occurred across the board)
When all titles and specialty categories are combined on a national basis, corporate communications professionals averaged bonus decreases of minus 31.6% (prior year's increase was 8.6%), compared to PR agency personnel who came in with a minus 36.4% decrease (prior year's increase was 9.6%) in bonuses.

Bonus Title Highlights (all specialties, nationwide, vs previous year)
Corporate (%): Specialist -43.0 vs +16.1, Manager -45.7 vs +10.3, Director -34.5 vs +7.3, VP -21.6 vs +4.8, Sr VP -13.2 vs +4.4.

PR Agency (%): (all specialties, nationwide, vs previous year)
Acct Exec -44.9 vs +12.4, Sr Acct Exec -35.2 vs +12.2, Acct Sup
-41.2 vs +11.2, VP -38.9 vs +8.0, Sr VP -28.9 vs +8.3, Exec VP -29.5 vs +5.2.

PR Agency Hourly Billing Rate Highlights (all titles, all regions, vs previous year - SW is a new addition to the regional figures, therefore, no previous figures this year).
Ad Agency Owned (%): NE 1.4 vs 3.9, SE 2.1 vs 4.0, MW 2.8 vs 4.2, SW N/A, W 2.2 vs 5.0
Top 100 Independents (%): NE 2.6 vs 6.5, SE 2.6 vs 4.5, MW 2.8 vs 4.6, SW N/A, W 4.0 vs 4.7
Other Independents (%): NE 3.5 vs +5.5, SE 3.3 vs 5.4, MW 5.1 vs 5.7, SW N/A, W 3.4 vs 6.9

On average nationally, the agency side fared slightly better than the corporate side in base salary compensation, 2.5 vs 2.2. However, when the relative cost of corporate benefits are included, once again, the corporate communications pros pulled ahead.

Base salaries for both corporate and agency personnel were down slightly from the year before as of December 2008. However, as the report notes, the hardest hit portion of a PR pro's compensation package last year was their bonus. Those fortunate enough to receive bonuses, saw the amount dwindle 34% on average.

2008 started out as a decent year of activity and growth for the first two quarters, even though there were early signs of caution in making new hires. Then things started to change slowly and did not start to become "dicey" until mid-year 2008. The one-two punch of the mortgage crisis and recession began to take hold in the form of sharply reduced and/or obliterated budgets along with many layoffs in PR through the end of 2008.

Now in the first quarter of 2009, the pace of hiring has slowed to a crawl. However, from our vantage point, the corporate side of the business is hiring at a slightly brisker pace than the agency side. Obviously, we're seeing more agency layoffs than corporate, because the agencies employ more PR professionals and because revenue and billable hours are so closely allied.

Contact: Dennis Spring
Tel: +1 212 473 0013


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