News: More gender and ethnic diversity needed in public relations, finds PRII

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A nationwide study carried out for the Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII) by Amárach Research has found a need for more gender and ethnic diversity to fill the jobs created by growth in recent years. The survey was carried out in July with over 300 respondents including both PRII members and non-members. The first ever Census of the profession was carried out in 2019 by the PRII. 

The census found that 53 per cent of the communication professionals work in-house of which 31 per cent work in the public sector including Government bodies and semi-states while 22 per cent work in the private sector across a wide range of industries. 35 per cent are working in agencies and 10 per cent are self-employed.   

The data shows women are thriving in the sector. There are more women than men in senior public relations roles both in agency and in-house, similar to the finding in 2019. Overall, 69 per cent of the professionals are women which is consistent with the gender breakdown in the UK. This has prompted the PRII to encourage more men to consider public relations as a career option. 

Salary levels are good and 41 per cent earn between €45,000 and €80,000 with 71 per cent receiving pay rises in the past year and 41 per cent receiving a bonus payment. 65 per cent received ‘top up’ maternity leave payments and 45 per cent paid paternity leave. 

The study shows a good level of social mobility into the profession in Ireland and there is a reasonable age distribution: 30 per cent are under 35 and 15 per cent are over 55.   

In terms of overall diversity, however, the profession is not as representative of Irish society as it could be. The 8 per cent who are not Irish contrasts with the 18.5 per cent of the total workforce who are non-Irish. This is improving the percentage from outside the EU working in public relations, which has grown by 2 per cent since 2019 to 3 per cent. 

Of the 4 per cent who have a disability, half reported their employer has accommodated their needs. For a career noted for its ‘always on’ nature, over three quarters report having a healthy work-life balance and 80 per cent saying they have a good career ahead (up from 75 per cent in 2019.) 

For both agency and in-house practitioners, in terms of time allocated to tasks, communication strategy development and media relations continue to dominate. Event management, however, shows it has not returned to 2019 levels of activity. 

Education levels are high and 89 per cent have a professional qualification related to their work (up 7 per cent on 2019). Nearly 40 per cent hold a Masters or equivalent and 60 per cent of respondents spent time on training and professional development in the past year.

At the PRII Census report launch, Padraig McKeon (pictured left), president of the PRII, said, “While it was reaffirming to see the profession thriving, the Census also highlighted the key challenges for leadership in developing the profile of the communications sector. Knowing we need to broaden the appeal of the profession to attract talent is critical.” 

“It was gratifying to see so many believing public relations offers them a good, life-long, career,” said Dr Martina Byrne (pictured right), chief executive, PRII, “and encouraging that graduates from various disciplines, not just communications, enter the profession. We are already tackling some key issues the results have shed light on, including the need to have more diversity in the profession and ensuring better gender balance by encouraging more male entrants to the profession.” 

The PRII Census 2022 Report is available on the PRII website here.