More than 2,800 people work in public relations and communications in the State, with two-thirds reporting that they received a pay rise in the past year, according to a new study of the sector.
The “census”, conducted for the Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII) by Amárach Research, found that 68 per cent of people working in the profession are women, although men earn more on average.
While women outnumber men in senior roles on an absolute basis, a higher proportion of the men occupy senior roles. Conversely, women are proportionately more likely than men to find themselves in lower salary bands.
As a result, the weighted average salary for men was about €75,000, compared to an average of about €65,000 for women.
The study also found that 38 per cent of PR and communications people are under the age of 35, with 33 per cent in the 35-44-year-old cohort, 23 per cent aged 45-54 and 6 per cent aged 55 or more.
This suggested a more evenly spread distribution of ages than recorded in a similar census of the Irish advertising industry.
The PRII report, which estimated that the sector contributed about €1.2 billion to the Irish economy, is the first of its kind to be published by the representative body.
Its survey of 471 PR professionals found that two-thirds reported having a healthy work-life balance, while three-quarters said they planned to stay in the sector.
Some 52 per cent work in-house for organisations, with this group almost equally split between the public and private sectors, while some 38 per cent are employed by agencies and 9 per cent are self-employed.
People working for internationally-owned agencies were least likely to say they had a good work-life balance.
PRII chief executive Martina Byrne said the findings overall were positive and should encourage more people to pursue PR and communications careers.
“The work is varied, the range of organisations is wide, it’s well paid and there are lifelong opportunities for women and men,” Dr Byrne said. “In fact, to ensure a balanced gender mix in the future, we need more male entrants to enter the profession.”
While two-thirds said they had a healthy work-life balance, that still meant a third did not, she noted. “That is something we have to look at.”
The census revealed growth in practice areas such as public affairs, community and internal communications, while there is also increasing demand for specialists in finance, technology, healthcare and agri-food.
PRII president Padraig McKeon pointed to fast-paced change in the media and corporate environment in which PR people operate.
“Where the focus of public relations was once all about engaging audiences through the mass media, today’s communications professional has a myriad of options at their disposal,” he said.
“The wider range of options in media channels, coupled with the reach and agility offered by digital technology, creates many more possibilities.”