PR Specialists Trump Journalists in Number and Average Salary

FT_Salary_GapCongratulations are in order to every journo-turned-PR specialist. According to the latest report from the PewResearch Center, you’re now making nearly $20K more per year than you would if you hadn’t sold your soul to the dark art of public relations.

If the numbers stay on track, that gap will continue to grow.

Consider the chart to the right: In 2004, for every $1 a PR specialist made, a reporter made 71¢. Fast forward nine years and the number is 65¢—that’s a 6¢ loss.

It gets better (or worse, depending on your vantage point).

Not only do we make more than our journo brethren, we outnumber them as well: Over the last decade the public relations field has expanded to such a degree that we now outnumber reporters nearly 5 to 1.

FT_reporters_employeesWhat’s behind all this? Do we even need to ask? It’s technology, stupid.

Agencies and companies are now able to reach out directly to the public in any number of ways and are hiring public relations specialists to help them do so. There are ways this can be helpful to the public, such as being able to offer updates in real time about virus outbreaks and background reports on the risks associated with it.

You shouldn’t be shocked to learn that, Pew does not see this as a cause for boastful celebration.

One concern it raises when looked at alongside the shrinking newsrooms is the greater difficulty reporters have vetting information from outside sources.

In their 2010 book, “The Death and Life of American Journalism,” Robert McChesney and John Nichols wrote, “As editorial staffs shrink, there is less ability for news media to interrogate and counter the claims in press releases.

Good PR is dependent on good journalism. So before you raise a glass, make sure to pour out a little for our fallen colleagues across the aisle.

It’s not looking good.