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In 2009, PR and communications pros faced layoffs and lower salaries, study says

March 26, 2010

Average base salaries for corporate-communications jobs decreased 11.3 percent in 2009 compared with an increase of 2.7 percent in 2008, while PR-agency base salaries decreased 10.6 percent compared to an increase of 2.9 percent in 2008, a new study finds. According to The Official PR Salary & Bonus Report — 2010 Edition from Spring Associates, the eight U.S. cities with the greatest number of PR professionals — New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Houston, Washington D.C., and San Francisco — together posted an average salary decrease of 9.6 percent for PR firms in 2009, versus an increase of 2.5 percent in 2008, and an average decrease of 11.4 percent for corporate-communications departments versus an increase of 2.2 percent in 2008.

In 2009, “PR workers had to face layoffs, lower base salaries and greatly reduced bonuses, if any at all,” Dennis Spring, president of Spring Associates, a PR executive search and consulting firm, said in a release. Employers also asked employees for a greater percentage of their salary to cover soaring health care costs, the report found. Companies that were hiring in 2009 tended to specialize in the health care, pharmaceutical, consumer and high tech/social media fields, Spring said.

More corporate-communications employees reported to other departments — human resources, marketing, even legal — in 2009, but experienced PR pros are increasingly hesitant to accept positions that do not report directly to the C-suite, the study found. Meanwhile, Spring said, “Social media is starting to make its presence felt in the media relations area, but is not commanding the higher base salaries as a stand-alone discipline as yet.”  — Greg Beaubien

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