Salaries for PR professionals nationwide were essentially flat last year in light of the economic damage wrought by the COVD-19 pandemic, according to the latest edition of an annual compensation report by PR executive search firm Spring Associates.

The report, which analyzed salaries, bonuses and other compensation-related criteria nationally among both corporate communications executives and public relations agency professionals, found that PR pros—across a range of agency titles from account executive through executive vice president—earned an overall average of $111,600 last year compared to $111,400 the year prior, representing an almost-nonexistent gain of 0.0018 percent.

Corporate marketing communications professionals, on the other hand, registered annual average earnings of $142,600 compared to 2019’s $141,300, revealing an increase of 0.0092 percent.


When broken down by region, the report discovered that PR agency executive salaries were up more across the eight metro areas that comprise the country’s largest concentration of communications professionals (New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Houston, Washington D.C. and San Francisco)—at $116,200 compared to $115,900, representing a minuscule .003 percent increase.

Corporate communications executives in those eight key metro areas, meanwhile, posted an overall average salary of $148,100 compared to 2019’s average of $147,400, representing a .008 percent increase.

While salaries were essentially flat for PR professionals last year, the report discovered that hourly billing rates at those PR firms went up at the same time, increasing, on average, by 4.8 percent.

Spring Associates President Dennis Spring told O’Dwyer’s that the uptick in hourly rates was “probably due to pandemic-caused losses.”

The report also found that while consultant and freelancer hourly rates were virtually flat in New York (0.6 percent), Atlanta (1.6 percent), Houston (0.6 percent) and Boston (0.8 percent), they were up significantly more in Chicago (seven percent), Los Angeles (five percent), San Francisco (4.3 percent) and Washington, D.C. (2.3 percent).

Finally, when it comes to annual bonuses, the Spring Associates report found that nationally, bonuses represented an average 9.1 percent of base salaries for PR agency staff while for corporate communications pros they were much higher, representing an average 19.9 percent of base salaries.

Spring Associates’ latest “PR Salary & Bonus Report,” now in its 25th year, was compiled using a proprietary database of more than 21,000 credentialed corporate marketing communications executives and PR agency professionals. The complete report can be purchased here.