2010 Report Finds PR Salaries and Bonuses Down -- Optimism and Hiring Up

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A concise, comprehensive look at public relations compensation in The Official PR Salary & Bonus Report - 2010 Edition.

Despite lowered salaries and bonuses, PR people remain optimistic about the outlook for 2010. PR hires are slowly increasing in the first quarter.

Spring Associates, Inc., public relations executive search and consulting firm has published their findings in the 14th annual corporate communications and public relations compensation study called The Official PR Salary & Bonus Report© - 2010 Edition.

Salary, bonus and other data are compiled and analyzed using Spring Associates private database containing detailed work history and job information on more than 22,000 credentialed PR corporate and agency professionals nationwide. Data is collected on a daily basis from direct interaction between PR professionals and Spring Associates.

Here are some informational snippets from the Report….

SALARIES
Overall, average corporate communications base salaries decreased 11.3% compared with the previous year's increase of 2.7%. PR agency base salaries decreased 10.6% compared to the previous year's increase of 2.9%.

The eight key* metro cities (*those with the greatest number of PR professionals), New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Houston, Washington DC, and San Francisco as a group, posted an average salary decrease of 9.6% vs last year's increase of 2.5 % for PR firms, and an average decrease of 11.4% vs the previous year's increase of 2.2% for corporate communications departments.

The five major regions of the country - northeast, southeast, midwest, southwest and west, (excluding the 8 key metro cities), reveals that corporate communications average salaries were down 9.9% vs an increase last year of +2.1%, while PR agency average salaries decreased by 11.2% vs last year's +2.4%.

SALARY TITLE HIGHLIGHTS (percentage change)
Corporate Specialists: regionally -10.0; in 8 key metro cities -12.9
Corporate Directors: regionally -11.8; in 8 key metro cities -11.2
Agency Account Execs: regionally -13.0; in 8 key metro cities -14.8
Agency Exec VPs: regionally -7.5; in 8 key metro cities -7.8

BONUSES (substantial decreases across the board)
When all titles and specialty categories are combined on a national basis, corporate communications professionals averaged bonus decreases of minus 17.0% (prior year's decrease was 31.6%), compared to PR agency personnel who came in with a minus 17.5% decrease (prior year's decrease was 36.4%) in bonuses.

PR AGENCY HOURLY AVG. REGIONAL BILLING RATE (%) HIGHLIGHTS (all titles)
Ad Agency Owned: NE -5.1 / SE -5.0 / MW -6.0 / SW -6.2 / W-6.7
Top 100 Independents: NE -10.2 / SE -9.1 / MW -7.1 / SW -7.0 / W -7.4
Other Independents: NE -6.1 / SE -7.5 / MW -8.8 / SW -8.2 / W -8.8

THOUGHTS & OBSERVATIONS
Last year the big story was the rather modest increases in base salaries and the substantial decreases in bonus across the board for PR pros who had a job.

People who retained their job in 2008 were subjected to reduced salaries, fewer work days or a static salary with no raises or bonuses. In rare cases, practitioners who worked in the healthcare, hi-tech or financial sectors actually did receive raises. But they were the exception, not the rule.
Even though PR job losses are not tracked in a given year, daily communication with PR pros in both corporations and agencies revealed a much greater loss of jobs in 2009 than in 2008. Despite these disappointing facts, optimism prevails in the PR community and hiring has improved.
Those companies and firms that are hiring in the first quarter of 2010, tend to fall into the healthcare, pharmaceutical, consumer and high tech/social media specialties. In general, the hiring trend is skewed toward PR people with more than the usual amount of experience at depressed pay levels - as reflected in the 2010 edition of The Official PR Salary & Bonus Report.

There is much uncertainty about the effects of Obamacare and what benefits PR workers can expect from their employers going forward. At the moment, employers are asking employees for a greater percentage portion of their salary to cover spiraling healthcare costs.

These days it's becoming more common for corporate candidates to report to human resources, marketing and sometimes legal departments. In spite of the recession some experienced PR pros are hesitant to accept positions that report to these departments rather than directly to the C-suite.

Social media is starting to make its presence felt in the media relations area, but is not commanding the higher base salaries as a stand-alone discipline as yet. Most search assignments tend to bundle social media in with high tech and different aspects of media relations.

Not surprisingly during these recessionary times, PR workers are being required to work longer hours, sometimes fewer days at the same title with no increase in pay.

Continuing the trend from 2009, PR pros will need to be an exact match to job specifications in the area of specialties and experience in order to be hired in 2010 - and possibly for the foreseeable future.

Contact: Dennis Spring
Tel: 212-473-0013
Website: http://www.springassociates.com

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