The MuckRack State of PR survey is out, and boy, oh boy…it is a doozy! It covers everything from top earned media challenges and how many hours communicators work to how much we earn and the most valuable social media network. 

It also looks at some of our most pressing challenges, the differences between agencies and brands, and how many areas (gasp!) we focus on at once.

It looks at the importance of DEI inside our organizations and how often communicators work on the weekends.

You can also see how you compare to the industry averages in terms of how you keep updated, how comms is regarded internally, how we’re proving our value, and what technology and tools the industry uses. 

Communicators Are Working Too Hard

I love, love, love surveys like this one from MuckRack because it allows us to look at the industry as an aggregate. We can see where we compare, where we’re excelling, and where we can get some professional development or training.

One of the things that stood out to me the most in this year’s survey is that communicators work more than 40 hours a week—and most of us work weekends, too. Sixty percent of us work upwards of 50 hours or more, and two-thirds work evenings and weekends nearly every week.

I certainly fit into that group. I also have major problems saying “no,” so that’s part of my downfall. But it’s not a good look for the entire industry. Certainly, there are times we might have to work a bit extra, but the fact that we’re doing it consistently is a problem.

Which Has Created Languishing

This at a time when pretty much the world is burned out—from a pandemic, from war, from rising interest rates and inflation, from mass shootings, and from all of the doomscrolling we are all guilty of doing. 

Last year, psychologists called the feeling we haven’t been able to escape “languishing.” The challenge is that even though we’re no longer in lockdown, all of the things I just described are still running rampant, which creates a lack of stability and routine.

Even though school is back in session, there are weeks that things go back to Zoom school because of a classroom outbreak. Or, heck, even the disruption of school holidays and vacations creates a lack of stability and routine. 

All of you who are experiencing kids graduating right now, I salute you (and do not envy you). But also…lack of stability and routine. 

We watch the gas prices rise and half-joke about how we could feed a family of eight with a car full of gasoline. 

Our brains love stability and routine, and we have nothing but that right now. Add on top that fact that you’re working like you’re a robot and not a human being can leave you feeling pessimistic, wanting to isolate, being overly tired, easily overwhelmed, or even grouchy. 

There are things you can do about this, of course. I’d love to say we should all refuse to work more than 40 hours a week and definitely not at night or during weekends, but not even I’m that naive. I also am as guilty as anyone for working more than I should.

So if you can’t control the number of hours you work and your never-ending task list and not having enough resources to get it all done, make sure you are taking care of yourself. 

It’s Important to Take Care of Ourselves

There is one thing I block on my calendar every single day, and I do not allow ANYONE or ANYTHING to disrupt it: exercise. 

If exercise isn’t your thing, find other things to work your brain and/or your body. At the start of the pandemic, we did things like making sourdough starters and cleaning out our closets. This worked because we were actively using our brains, which is different than dulling our brains with the newest season of Stranger Things.

Keep your brain active.

Incorporate one positive thing into your life every day. My sister is having a rough time right now, so I text her a positive (and often funny or snarky) affirmation every day. Even though she mostly rolls her eyes at me, I know it’s having an effect on her mood.

And do try to move your body at least once an hour. We recently moved to a new home, and my office is no longer 30 steps from the kitchen. I now have to climb two flights of stairs every time I go to the kitchen, but I refuse to stockpile stuff in my office for the sole purpose of having to move when I need more water or a snack or a meal. 

We may not be able to prevent how much we have to work, but we can care for ourselves while doing it.

Because We Are Also Underpaid

It turns out communicators are not just working ourselves to the bone, we’re underpaid, too. The report shows that more than half of respondents make less than $100,000 per year—and if you work for an agency, you make even less.

This is not OK. 

When I interview a potential new agency owner client, I always ask them how much they pay themselves. I typically hear things such as, “Three thousand dollars a month.” Or, “I don’t really pay myself unless the company makes money.”

Also not OK.

I have been privy to salaries for many of our clients, and I will tell you something, if you have more than seven years of experience and you’re not making at least six figures, you are waaaaaaay underpaid. 

And, if you are an agency owner not paying yourself what you’re worth in the market, you’re doing yourself—and your business—a gigantic disservice.

Start Negotiating Now

If you don’t know what you should be paid, take a look at sites such as Glassdoor and Indeed. They have salary surveys galore, and they break down salaries based on where you live and your level of experience. Use that information to get yourself a raise or, if you own the joint, to pay yourself a living wage.

Because working more than 50 hours a week plus nights and weekends plus not getting paid what your peers in other professions are paid equals an eventual burnout disaster. 

I know this is a tall order—especially if you’re a woman. For some reason, it’s OK and socially acceptable for men to ask to be paid what they’re worth. But women are not just frowned upon but often taken for granted when we stand up for ourselves regarding title and salary.

That doesn’t mean we should sit back and take it. Not at all! But it does mean we have to do more work to get to where we need to be.

Get Paid What You’re Worth

I often coach women to ask for a raise, and the response is always the same, “I don’t think I can do that.” Of course you can do it! Men do it all the time. You can absolutely do it!

The only thing I advise is to take all emotion out of the conversation. This is where women tend to go first—and it can often be our downfall. Present your boss with facts, data, and numbers and remove the emotion, and you will get what you ask for. And, if you don’t, it may be time to move on. 

The Great Resignation has made it an employee’s market, and there are plenty of employers who will pay you what you’re worth—and then some.

Let’s change the statistics of this State of PR report by this time next year. No more 50+ hour workweeks, including nights and weekends. No more being underpaid. It’s time to prove the worth of communications, not just to the organization, but your worth as an individual contributor or leader of people, too.

See the Rest of the Results

If you’d like to download it to see the rest of the State of P results, you can find them here.

If you want to participate in surveys like this—and have your say about the industry, or if you need help negotiating a pay increase, join us in the Spin Sucks Community.

It’s free, it’s fun, it’s smart…and you might just learn a thing or two from your peers. 

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich