Loss of income seen as biggest challenge of coronavirus to PR industry, new survey finds

A survey by #FuturePRoof has found that three key issues face the PR industry as the impact of coronavirus hits; access to domestic customers (57.4%) and loss of income (80.9%) are the biggest immediate challenges and, longer-term, more than a third of respondents (31.3%) are worried about cessation of trading.

The survey highlights the concerns of freelancers following the lack of financial protection within the emergency financial measures announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with one practitioner claiming they were being "discriminated against". Today the CIPR and PRCA jointly wrote to the Chancellor calling for more support for freelancers.

The survey also found:

  • Contingency measures being put in place by PR practitioners include new flexible working methods and patterns and prospecting for new business.
  • Areas of resilience include public health information and healthcare communication; crisis communications support; IT security and communication; education and learning; home entertainment and gaming; and home delivery. There has been a jump in government and public sector work.
  • Respondents recognised that the Government is dealing with a fast moving crisis and communicating a tough, unprecedented message as best as it can.
Sarah Waddington Chart.PR, FCIPR, #FuturePRoof founder and Astute.Work agency owner
The results of this survey make for anxious reading. The negative impact of COVID-19 has been immediate and PR leaders are responding as fast as they can but need clarity over what help is available and how long this may last. On the plus side, a decent number of practitioners are generating new business. The hugely surprising omission is that internal communication doesn’t appear to feature as a service in demand, which is disappointing.
Sarah Waddington Chart.PR, FCIPR, #FuturePRoof founder and Astute.Work agency owner
Stephen Waddington Chart.PR, Hon FCIPR, #FuturePRoof chair, Managing Director, Metia, Visiting Professor at Newcastle University
With the industry shifting to virtual and flexible working in the space of a week it’s not surprising that respondents are reporting that immediate impacts of the crisis include isolation and juggling multiple demands including childcare, uncertainty and unemployment. It is critical that immediate support relates to mental health and wellbeing to reduce workforce anxiety and stress.
Stephen Waddington Chart.PR, Hon FCIPR, #FuturePRoof chair, Managing Director, Metia, Visiting Professor at Newcastle University
Alastair McCapra, CIPR Chief Executive
The past few weeks have placed our professional community under tremendous strain, but they have also shown how creative, flexible professionals can respond with energy and compassion. This survey gives us a critical snapshot of how our colleagues are faring, and the case for support we have made to Government will be supported by the perspective it brings. Thank you to the #Futureproof community for this valuable insight.
Alastair McCapra, CIPR Chief Executive
  • The survey remains open and the response rate continues to rise. You can complete the five minute survey here. 
  • Find out more about CIPR's work to support members and the profession during the coronavirus outbreak here.

About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)

Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas. The CIPR is the largest membership organisation for PR practitioners outside of North America. By size of turnover and number of individually registered members, we are the leading representative body for the PR profession and industry in Europe.

The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).