Annual Spring Associates PR Salary & Bonus Report Finds PR Agency Compensation Grows While Corporate Comp Takes A Dive in Large Metro Areas

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For the first time in recent memory, PR agencies nationwide see a greater uptick in wages and bonuses than communications departments in corporations.

Findings from the 16th annual corporate communications and public relations compensation study, The Official PR Salary & Bonus Report - 2012 Edition, reveal a surge in PR agency compensation while corporate communications wages remained flat or declined.

“In 2011, PR agency professionals enjoyed significant increases in compensation while their corporate communications counterparts took some hits particularly in the larger metro areas” said Dennis Spring, president of Spring Associates, Inc. and publisher of the Report. “However”, he added, “even with declines in certain sectors, corporate communications professionals continue to earn more in base salary than their peers at PR agencies with similar backgrounds”.

The Report is a compilation of salary, bonus and related information as analyzed from Spring Associates’ database consisting of more than 25,000 corporate communications and PR agency professionals nationwide. Data is organized into tables, breaking down PR agency and corporate compensation ranges drilling down by specialty, title and geographic location.

Overall, corporate communications average base salaries decreased 13.4% in 2011 compared with the previous year’s overall increase of 10.5%. PR agency average base salaries increased 6.4% in 2011 compared to the previous year’s increase of 3.6%.

Corporate communications executives in eight key metro areas with the greatest concentration of PR professionals (New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Houston, Washington DC, and San Francisco) posted an overall average salary decrease of 16.1% versus the prior year’s increase of 13.8%. PR agency executives’ average salary continued to trend upward with an increase of 2.1% in 2011, adding to the prior year’s increase of 12.5%.

On a regional basis - Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest and West (excluding 8 key metro areas) - corporate communications average salaries were up 2.4% albeit at a lesser upsurge from the prior year’s increase of 10.3%. PR agency average salaries were up 4.3% on top of the prior year’s increase of 3.3%, demonstrating a consistent trend with the national and metro area salary increases in 2011.

Overall, corporate communications professionals took a hit with bonuses – the regional and metro area data show an average decrease of 27.7%, whereas in the prior year, this same group benefited from an increase of 32.6%. PR agency personnel enjoyed an average bonus increase of 31.2% nationally, trending on par with the prior year’s increase of 39.8%.

In line with PR agency salary increases in 2011, agency hourly billing rate ranges also increased with independents taking the lead. Greatest increases are seen in the West and the Southwest followed by the Southeast.

Top 100 Independents:     NE +2.9 / SE +5.5 / MW +5.1 / SW +5.8 / W +3.7
Other Independents:         NE +3.8 / SE +4.3 / MW +5.2 / SW +6.0 / W +5.2
Ad Agency Owned:          NE +0.1 / SE +3.7 / MW +0.8 / SW +5.7 / W +5.5

The full Report is available for purchase at:

This 15-page Report is primarily purchased by HR personnel, compensation analysts, hiring executives of all levels, CFOs, CEOs, CMOs, comptrollers and owners of PR agencies,

Salary ranges are detailed separately for PR agencies and corporations – categorized geographically by region (Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, West and Southwest) as well as by “key” metro area with the greatest concentration of PR professionals (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, D.C., Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco). Salary ranges are further cross-referenced with six of the most commonly used PR titles (from account executive and communications specialist through Executive Vice President) and nine specialties (Consumer, Corporate/Financial, Health/Medical/Pharmaceutical, Hi-Tech, Industry/B2B, Internal Communications, Investor Relations, Public/Government Affairs and Social Media). The percentage change from the prior year’s data are indicated for all ranges.

Average bonus ranges are indicated as a percentage of salary for both agencies and corporations -- by title in each of eight PR specialties.

Agency hourly billing rate ranges are indicated separately for Ad Agency-Owned, Top 100 Independents, and other Independents -- categorized by title in each of the five regions of the country. Percentage changes from the prior year are also included.

Additionally, the Report includes an executive summary of compensation trends in the PR business, a chart listing alternative corporate and agency titles, a press release with top-line data, and an explanation of methodology.

About Us:
Founded in 1980, Spring Associates, Inc. is a leading corporate communications and public relations executive search and consulting firm led by president and founder Dennis Spring. The company has successfully completed hundreds of search assignments for most of the corporate PR divisions of the Fortune 500 and top PR agencies in the country. In addition to executive search services, the company also conducts communications audits, mergers and acquisitions, client/agency reviews and PR agency selection searches.

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