How „state of the profession” surveys can help increase the quality of work in PR?
Communications strategists often struggle because of the lack of insights to campaigns clients ask them/us to manage. In order to get better insights from our customers, shouldn't we start by getting a better insight about our profession first? We need to embrace the results of these surveys more to improve the quality of our profession.
CIPR represents individuals in PR for over a few decades by raising industry standards, emphasizing gender and diversity issues, sharing best practices and promote CPD and Chartered Status. While other reports (like TheHolmesReport’s World PR report) provide rankings, figures and quantitative data, CIPR’s State of the Profession Survey focuses on people and the quality of their work and life. As the Hungarian PR Association signed an agreement with the CIPR last year, the questionnaire of their survey became available to us to conduct the very same analysis. My strategic consultancy, PersonaR has done the work, managed the survey the results of which can be found here (in Hungarian).
What I learnt from these two surveys:
Quality of work and life. Although it is very important to measure and rank the size of the market by revenue, number of employees, profits - it is just as important to see the humans behind the numbers. The level of stress, skills, work/life balance are the qualitative measures which affect people’s performance as well as the attractiveness of our profession that ultimately drives talent acquisition, recruitment, etc)
Number of respondents. Both CIPR and PRCA estimate the number of professionals working in the UK to be between 40,000 – 50,000. 1,500 respondents will take only about 3-4%. In Hungary, we only had 170 answers (which is not enough to create representative cross-charts) while the estimated size of the market is over 3 – 4,000 people (5-6% then)
Top3 UK findings (more findings are available on my original blogpost)
Convergence. While media relations and internal comms still remain solid areas of specialism for PR, more and more tasks (ie: competition, prize draws, social and digital) are (cross-)managed by other departments.
Content creation is becoming a skill more and more needed and this is what professionals devote the most time to.
Gender and pay inequality. While 2/3 of the professionals are women, this ratio dramatically changes when moving up the corporate ladder (to 50/50); and pay disparity reaches a shockingly high number (1/3 of the average salary).
Top3 HU finding (more findings are available on my original blogpost)
Stressful but enjoyable to work in PR. Over half of the respondents felt their work partly of absolutely stressful, yet the vast majority (83%) likes to work in public relations.
Slightly optimistic about the future. Professionals pointed out some of the potential risks and challenges but only around one sixth are pessimistic about the PR budget.
Transparency. Diversity and salaries are so sensitive in Hungary (and perhaps all around Central-Eastern Europe) that we dismissed most of the questions related to these areas and, still, most people skipped to answer.
Actions needed. The results clearly mark the path trade associations should follow. The responses sometime follow trends (2/3 of professionals are women) but sometimes are shockingly far from them (only 8% of respondents are afraid of automation within PR while almost all forecasts (tweetchat hashtag) point this out as a clear trend)
Now, as we carefully observe the results (and use them as insights for future development), here are my top-tips for the coming:
#1 spread the word and benchmark your results
State of the Profession surveys are useful to measure the quality of our work and CIPR has done a good job with this. Why not conduct the same or similar survey across your countries’ professionals and benchmark your results. I am happy to share my experience and I am sure CIPR is happy to do so too.
#2 set goals following insights
Once you see the results, key trends, expectations and challenges it’s your job to turn them into actions. At HuPRA, I not only promoted the summary but I already started to build a programme focussing on the tasks to be done to increase the level of engagement and the quality of work (transparency, future skills, etc)
#3 PR to be more strategic
Agency leaders and head of comms suggest to position PR to C-suite level. Automation, convergence, small and boutique agencies will do the legwork and very specific tasks. Content creation, stakeholder management, reputation and the proper use of data available should be the ultimate goal to all PR practitioners.
Let’s face the fact that PR needs qualitative and quantitative performance indicators as well. The human factor - the wellbeing of people working in our field - and not only the revenues, media coverage and metrics describe the state of our profession.