Dennis Spring
Dennis Spring

Salaries are up in the PR business, but bonuses have taken a hit, according to the Official PR Salary & Bonus Report, published by executive search firm Spring Associates.

The report, which analyzes compensation statistics from SA’s database of more than 24,000 vetted PR and corporate marketing communications executives, found that pay in the corporate marketing comms arena was flat for 2017 while their bonuses suffered a slightly smaller drop than those of their PR peers.

The Official Public Relations Salary & Bonus Report: 2018 Edition

“Before compiling this year’s Salary & Bonus Report, we sensed a general feeling of optimism from both candidates and clients alike, that the salary and bonus numbers would increase markedly," said Spring Associates president Dennis Spring.

The data don’t quite justify that optimism. Nationwide, PR execs received salaries averaging $108,400 last year, up 3.2 percent from the previous year’s $104,900, while average earnings for corporate marketing comms pros dropped from $136,400 to $136,000. Bonuses for PR execs averaged 9.1 percent of base salary, a 6.2 percent drop from the previous year. Corporate marketing comms exec saw their bonuses shrink 5.6 percent to 19 percent of base salary.

The study found geographical variations in compensation as well. In what the study refers to as the eight key metro areas (New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Houston, Washington and San Francisco), the average salary for PR execs came in at $112,850, while outside those areas the number was $99,500. For corporate marketing comms pros, pay in the key metro areas averaged $145,550, while for the rest of the country it was $128,400.

As regards hourly billing rates, the study says they were up 1.7 percent overall, with the rates in the midwest showing the largest rises and those on the west cost reporting drops.

“We still remain optimistic that the PR business will show a jump in salaries and bonuses later this year,” Spring said, “and if we detect an appreciable increase, or decrease, we will issue an updated version of the Report.”