PR Census 2011: Why The Future Looks Bright for PR.

The results of the largest-scale research project into the PR industry for many years are in. Jointly commissioned by PRWeek magazine and PRCA, a professional body that represents PR consultancies, freelancers and in-house communications teams, the 2011 PR Census has been collated from data and desk research to build up a picture of who works in PR and how big the industry is.

And it really is quite big. The census has estimated that 61,600 individuals are employed in PR. More than half of these (53%) are under 34, and almost two thirds (64%) are female.

In total, the PR industry has a turnover of approximately £7.5 billion, and is seeing double-digit annual growth.

In a buoyant economy, these figures would be impressive but in an economy struggling to pull itself completely out of a recession they are quite surprising. Most businesses have had to scrutinise their budgets for possible savings, and marketing/advertising/PR budgets are often some of the first to be slashed.

So, how has PR both survived and prospered?

The most likely explanation is that many businesses and organisations have moved away from judging PR’s value in terms of advertising value equivalent (AVE) and static media coverage, and have started to see it more as a route to opening interactive conversations and two-way dialogues with people they want to be engaging with.

The prolificacy of social media – and the tendency for managing a company’s online reputation to be seen as a predominantly PR function – will no doubt have helped the industry’s growth as it has irrevocably altered the dynamics of the marketing mix.

In a way, the convergence of the economic situation (over stretched budgets mean the champagne swilling and overt spin stereotype has now been forever relegated to Ab Fab re-runs), the decrease in printed media circulation (no PR worth their salt thinks the job begins and ends with the random wooing of journalists) and the rise of social media has encouraged PR to get ‘back to it’s roots’.

What is happening is a re-evaluation of the original definition of PR, ‘to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics’. And by doing this, business confidence in robust public relations is set to rise even further.

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  • About the Author

    After more than 10 years working in PR and media planning, providing clients with great PR and delivering tangible results still brings a smile to my face! Before joining CLPR, I worked across a variety of sectors including lifestyle and finance, and my wider experience in marketing means I understand just how PR fits into the mix. Outside of work, I play with my children, read obsessively, talk myself out of going to the gym and cook huge quantities of food for friends.

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