If you’re graduating this year in PR or Communications or thinking of moving into the profession which has grown by 34% (over £3 billion) since 2013, the PRCA’s Census 2016 will provide some interesting reading.

The PR Census 2016 is the most comprehensive and authoritative analysis of the PR industry and provides lots of insight into the local profession. Here’s the low down…

1. What will you be doing?

Three areas – digital, online communications and SEO – have increased in importance and are expected to continue to increase over the next two years.  If you’re hoping to work in PR, make sure you’ve brushed up on these skills.

2. What other skills do you need?

80% of PR professionals between the ages 18-34 stated that general media relations was one of their top duties and 76% said they were involved in writing articles and newsletters.

Good communication skills are vital as well as having a commercial awareness of the sectors you are working in.  Of course, being aware of local news and current affairs is also essential.

3. Who works in PR?

The local industry is very heavily female-led with 70% of the respondents being women.  The Census also indicated that the industry is a young sector, with an average practitioner age of 33 in NI.

Chair of the PRCA in Northern Ireland, Paul McErlean, joins Matt Cartmell from the PRCA to unveil the results from the PR Census 2016. The report revealed that the UK PR industry is now worth £12.9bn – a growth of 34% or over £3bn since 2013 – and employees around 83,000 people. The Census also provided a number of local insights into the Northern Ireland PR industry including the fact that, on average, PR practitioners work 55 hours per week, an increase of 10 hours compared to their counterparts across the UK who work an average of 45 hours per week. The average salary for someone working in PR in Northern Ireland is £35,387 with 40% of respondents receiving a pay rise within the past 12 months. The most prevalent sectors of work in the NI PR industry are Consumer Services, Media and Marketing and charity/third sector/NFP (both 38%) while the food, beverages and tobacco industry was the most hotly-tipped sector to increase investment in PR in the coming years. The PR Census 2016 is the most comprehensive and authoritative analysis of the PR industry, developed by the PRCA in conjunction with PRWeek and global research house YouGov.

Chair of the PRCA in Northern Ireland, Paul McErlean, joins Matt Cartmell from the PRCA to unveil the results from the PR Census 2016.

4. How competitive is it to get a job?

Public Relations continues to be one of the most attractive subjects for students applying to courses in the School of Communication at Ulster University, in terms of applications.  The new BSc (Hons) Communication Management and Public Relations course had its first intake in September 2015 and has the largest first year cohort of any undergraduate degree in the School, which is remarkable for a new degree.

5. What are the hours like?

Working in PR is certainly not a nine to five job, the average contracted hours in NI is 45 hours per week but respondents stated that they could work up to 55 hours on any given week.  That’s an increase of 10 hours compared to their counterparts across the UK who work an average of 45 hours per week.

These hours are likely to include the informal, networking events that practitioners are inclined to attend as part of their job.

6. Agency vs in-house – what’s the difference?

In a PR agency you will be working with many different clients.  Some agencies will specialise in certain areas and may also have staff that work in the Public Affairs industry.

In-house PR teams work for one particular company, although you could be juggling different brands or projects at the same time if you are working for a big corporate.

Each one has its pros and cons and most people experience both in their career.

7. What does the future hold?

Across the UK, practitioners expect that the technology and health sectors are the most likely to increase investment in PR over the next two years but in Northern Ireland the food, beverages and tobacco industry was the most hotly-tipped sector to increase investment.

8. How much can I expect to get paid?

The average salary for someone working in PR in Northern Ireland is £35,387 with 40% of respondents receiving a pay rise within the past 12 months.

Graduates will start on a lower salary but it’s very possible to climb the career ladder quickly if you prove your worth and have a passion for the job.

The bad news for females is that the survey revealed a significant pay disparity between men and women, an average of £9,111 across the UK.  This is an issue the PRCA has vowed to address.

Keep up to date with news from the PRCA on Twitter by following @PRCA_UK or by following the Chair of the PRCA in Northern Ireland Paul McErlean on @mce1

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