Nobody does PR for the money

While reviewing Muck Rack’s new State of PR and Journalism Salaries report, I had one overarching thought:

Nobody chooses PR as a living for the money.

The study reports the median PR salary is $85,000 ($107K at brands, where pros tend to be more senior, and $80K at agencies). Fewer than 3 percent of PR pros report salaries above $250K.

In college, my focus was on earning enough to live. Didn’t have much of a vision beyond that. But now I’m more aware of what can happen after you’re in the workforce for a decade or two:

  • Specialized professionals (doctors, attorneys) have finally paid off their school loans and are reaping the fruits of their expertise.
  • People in finance co-invest with some of their deals, and if a couple hit, they win big.
  • Creative entrepreneurs – even side-hustlers – regularly beat our industry averages. I know someone who runs a 1-person niche craft business who makes more than 93 percent of PR agency pros, according to the survey.
  • And the more generally accepted path of climbing the ladder at a medium-to-large company in a different function than PR.

The takeaway: If you’re reading this and realize that you are in PR for the money, you’ll be happier if you pivot to one of the paths bulleted above. A different study, last updated in 2019, regularly ranked PR in the top ten most stressful occupations.

And if you’re not in it for the money, why ARE you still in PR?

Give that question some serious thought, and then find ways to double down on your reasons. Some examples:

  • Maybe you chose to stick with PR to balance business involvement with creative storytelling. Push harder to initiate projects that keep you in that genius zone.
  • Maybe you’re motivated by a cause, such as the nonprofit you work for, or by activities like mentoring younger women. (The study shows we need more of this effort in particular – although 90 percent of new PR pros are female, only 65 percent of C-level execs are.)
  • Or maybe you really love the day-to-day PR work you do, however frustrating or stressful it can be: The thrill of seeing your outreach result in a placement in a major outlet. The high stakes of successfully navigating a crisis. That’s what attracted me to PR, and what kept me in it when my college classmates started peeling off for MBA or law school.

No judgement from me about what you decide after completing this thought exercise. But don’t just default to the daily grind. You owe it to yourself – and your employer – to frequently re-center on the “why” that drives you to be your best.

The salary survey has lots more interesting stuff – including journalist salaries, which I hadn’t seen before. Download the free 21-slide deck here.

Thoughts on using ChatGPT to help with this piece

I initially wrote this myself, with no AI assistance. My second draft (after my first unassisted edit) was 567 words, and I like to keep these under 500 words. I pasted it into ChatGPT and asked it to suggest 10 edits to cut the piece by 20 percent. It did, but cutting them would have made it unintelligible. So I corrected it with this prompt:

Almost all of those edits remove significant meaning. Try again, and suggest 10 specific ways to rewrite parts of the piece so they are shorter but mean the same thing.

This time the edits were “change this to this.” I implemented only four of them, and that brought the piece down to 468 words. I then pasted that version back in and asked the bot to copy edit the piece. It found one typo and suggested about five other edits to clarify the writing. I applied one, bringing the final word count (not including this P.S.) to 473 😊.

This article was originally published on August 2, 2023

Get Michael’s 5 Winning Subject-Line Formulas and best PR tips each week free!

Articles Right Form

This is the articles sidebar opt-in form and can be accessed under “Appearance” – “Widgets” – “Articles Sidebar”

Would you like to get the next article as soon as it goes live?

(I’ll also send you other weekly tips)

'Count Me In' article subfooter optin

This is in the footer of any articles and can be edited in the "Theme Options" and "Single Blog Form" tab: