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Yacht choppy waters calm water what next for pr recruitment and jobs


The PRWeek – PR recruitment report for 2023

The recently released PRWeek 2024 PR Recruitment report highlighted some very choppy waters for PR recruitment and PR & comms jobs last year as 2023 presented significant challenges. This week’s newly released PRWeek podcast (29/02/24) also touches on and discusses the findings of the report. It wasn’t news to us at BoldMove as we noticed and were impacted by the slowdown in hiring across the PR & comms sectors. As the report was subscription only we thought we’d share a bit of a summary.

PR job postings and salaries

According to the PRWeek report, 2023 saw a notable decrease in the number of unique job postings compared to the previous year, with a staggering one-third decline. The study looked at almost 10,000 postings tracked across a range of publicly available job boards in 2022 and 2023.

Manager and executive openings dominated at 90%, but the volume of jobs fell 35% year-on-year. Graduate, junior, and intern roles dropped by over 50%, however, specialist roles grew by 19%. Even though the number of open roles fell there was, and continues to be a marked lack of strong candidates at mid/manager level. This has been the trend since Covid.

Despite the reductions, there was an uptick in advertised salaries to an average of £40k (£39,817.00 if we’re being precise), indicating a 4.5% increase from 2022.

Regardless, this increase failed to match the inflation rate, raising concerns about salary inequality within the industry. The ONS reported the UK’s overall inflation rate (CPIH) in 2023 at 6.8%. This means that there was an overall salary decline of over 2%.

Even with a demand for mid-level roles, particularly account managers, there appears to be reluctance among agencies to increase salaries to reflect this demand adequately.

Salary brackets for advertised PR roles

  • £25k-£30k 591 roles
  • £30k-£35k 701 roles
  • £35k-£45K 1052 roles
  • £45K + 675 roles

Skills shortage for PR recruitment

The podcast conversation touches on how the pandemic might have created a skills gap at the mid-level for PR recruitment, while it was also suggested that overinflated PR and comms salaries during the “Great Resignation” could be a contributing factor.

For some years there has been a skills shortage at this level but since the pandemic, it’s been more pronounced than ever. With this in mind, the discussion also explores the possibility of agencies moving towards an “hourglass” model, with a cutback of mid-level staff and larger junior and senior teams. However, concerns were raised about the potential lack of guidance and expertise this model could create.

This could be driven by AI or having lower-paid juniors do more work. But the middle ranks remain crucial to guide juniors and keep senior staff grounded. Most account managers would be the first to tell you that they hold everything together. Ignoring them risks quality and culture.

Emerging hotspots

  • London and the Southeast remained the dominant locations for PR jobs, with 58% of roles in Greater London, as well as in Reading and Oxford. 
  • Manchester in the Northwest, was the main driver of PR demand, accounting for more than half of tracked job postings.
  • Leeds was the focus of activity in Yorkshire where the BoldMove Leeds office witnessed growth.
  • Bristol was the place to be in the Southwest.

Looking ahead

Looking ahead to 2024, although uncertainties persist regarding how recruitment trends will evolve, the tide seems to be turning and there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic. As inflation stabalises and interest rates are predicted to fall, the team at BoldMove is having more positive conversations with PR agencies and businesses about opportunities for hiring PR & comms talent.

One thing remains clear: the importance of working with experienced specialist PR & comms recruiters to navigate these challenges effectively is vital.  Generalist recruiters might offer a wide net, but they often miss the mark when it comes to the specifics of PR & comms.

That’s where BoldMove comes in.



PRWeek 2024 recruitment report

PRWeek podcast (29/02/2024).

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