PR Sector Contributes over €1bn to Irish Economy

Research into public relations sector also shows strong female representation at senior levels.

(Thursday 25 July 2019)

A nation-wide study carried out by Amárach Research for the Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII) finds the sector is contributing almost €1.2 billion to the Irish economy and has more women than men in senior roles. There were 471 respondents to the survey which was carried out in April. The report was launched on Thursday evening.

Key Findings

  • It is estimated that over 2,800 are working in public relations and communications.
  • 68% of the profession are female and there are more females than males in senior roles. However, a higher proportion of the men in the profession occupy senior roles.
  • Just over half work in-house in organisations: 25% in the public sector and 27% in the private sector. 38% work in agencies and 9% are self-employed.
  • 45% of respondents earn between €45,000 and €80,000.
  • Almost half reported receiving work-related calls or emails outside office hours every day. However, 66% say they have a good work-life balance and 75% plan to stay in the sector.

At the launch of the PRII Census report, Padraig McKeon, President of the PRII, said that the research shows an increasing recognition of the value of effective professional communications across a range of sectors, with growth in practice areas such as public affairs, community, and internal communications. There are also increasing demands for communication specialists in finance, technology, healthcare and agri-food.

“Through the study we can also see that public relations has a highly educated workforce who are committed to keeping pace with the fast-changing media and corporate environment by investing in continuous professional development. Of those surveyed, 82% have a qualification relevant to their work and over half spent time on training or upskilling in the past year,” said McKeon.


“Overall the findings are very positive said Dr Martina Byrne, Chief Executive, PRII,

and should encourage graduates from a range of disciplines to enter the profession. The work is varied, the range of organisations is wide, it’s well paid and there are life-long opportunities for women and men. In fact, to ensure a balanced gender mix in the future we need more male entrants to enter the profession,” she said.

“Since the roll-out of rural electrification in the 1920s was overseen by the first PR professional in the country, Ned Lawler, a founder of the PRII, the public relations profession has made an important contribution to the economic, social, cultural and political life of the country,” said Dr Byrne. 

The PRII Census 2019 Report is available here.



The PRII invited its 1,013 members to take part by accessing a link to the survey in March 2019. Members were encouraged to invite their peers, including non-members, to participate. The survey link was also promoted widely through the media and to communications professional networks in the private and public sector. The survey was closed in April 2019 by which time 471 public relations and communications professionals had responded.

Pictured at the launch of the PRII Census 2019 are (L to R) Dr Martina Byrne, Chief Executive PRII, Padraig McKeon FPRII, President PRII and Gerard O'Neill, Chairman Amárach Research.


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