PR Vs. Marketing: Things might be changing in Portugal

Portugal is a different country in what concerns corporate practices. At least that’s what some studies about the level of salaries earned by top managers say. And now, for the first time to my knowledge, a ranking shows that a PR Director in Portugal can earn slightly more than a Marketing & Commercial Director and significantly more than a pure Marketing Director. But what does this mean?

Several studies have pointed that the salary level in Portugal is one of the most asymmetrical when you compare top management compensations with mid level employees. Indeed, Portugal is a paradise for C-suite managers who, according to a recent Mercer survey mentioned by the Portuguese magazine Visão, can earn several times the average salary paid by their companies. In Portugal top managers earn an average of 32 times more than their employees each month while in Spain this level is 15 times, in the UK 14 times, in Germany 10 times. One particular shocking case was that of the CEO of the biggest corporation in Portugal (Portugal Telecom) who, according to the Visão magazine, is said to receive a monthly wage equivalent to 128 times the average wage paid by the company.

But apart from this this asymmetrical reality, the Mercer study also points to what can be seen as a very interesting reality. It maps the wage level of the principal directors inside corporations and the Public Relations Director appears on the middle of the table, but above (among others) the Marketing Director, the Financial Director, and the Commercial and Marketing Director. The mentioned monthly salary of a PR Director is of 9,373 euro. I confess that this is one of the only reliable indicators from a credible source about the situation of PR managers in Portugal although it doesn’t (I’m sure) represent the whole or even a majority of the situations.

Can this represent a growth of power in the internal structure? Especially in the all too permanent struggle between marketing and PR – which is going to be the subject of a major symposium this summer in Bled. I would like to think that this means a recognition of the importance of the strategic function of managing relationships and expectations of a diverse array of complex stakeholders and publics. And what do you think? Do you have similar indicators from your country?

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5 Replies to “PR Vs. Marketing: Things might be changing in Portugal

  1. Toni, that’s an interesting story and a true visionary leader. I wonder what happened for us to stop being amazed at that kind of things. Can it be that we have been contributing to an over valuation of the role of top managers over the years? I’m convinced this might be the case, and also within our own field. For example, isn’t that what we imply when we seem to claim that the “strategic” role in PR is “the best” or “the most important” or “the most inspirational”.

    Heather, your point is very interesting. But could it be that the overall career of PR probably still isn’t comparable with the marketing career because their variable compensation is often connected with the business results (variation in sales, increase in number of customers, success of incentive programs, degree of customer loyalty) whereas our variable compensation is still connected to other different (perhaps more volatile) indicators? I would really like to hear your views on this.

    Bruno and Miguel, thanks for weighing in on this. Bruno, you’re right in pointing out the budget issue. In fact, it might be argued, looking at the PR and MKT departments’ budgets one wouldn’t probably see the same difference. As much as that might be true, it highlights only the fact that PR is a labor intensive activity whereas Marketing is a more capital intensive activity. In other words, if you want to improve your marketing results you might argue for a proportional increase of the marketing budget (because you have to invest more in packaging, promotion, advertising space, commissions and incentives, and so on) whereas you can double your PR results without necessarily needing to double your budget. Do you agree?

    Miguel, I think you touch a similar point as that mentioned by Heather regarding PR career vs. marketing career and I would also like to have your view on the question above.

  2. Caro João,

    Even though you have expressed the need for points of view from different nationalities (and thus different realities from the one that we may find in the Portuguese work market) I would like to add a point which you have left out, and which Bruno has already pointed out but hasn´t dwelved in: the case may be that PR Directors are earning more (in average) then their marketing counterparts, but to what extent is that indicative of the lower tier salaries? And is it possible to convey some meaning, some indication of the increase of institutional awareness in the importance of good PR professionals from its Director´s salaries?

    What about PR employees? Are their salaries anywhere near to what a marketing employee earns every month? I cannot base my conclusions on any studies, for I have none available to me right now, but from my knowledge of the work market, and speaking specifically of these two areas, I am inclined to believe that PR gains and salaries are nowhere near what is alloted to marketing. Company budgets allocate massive amounts of funds when it comes to marketing, but their allocations to PR arent even in the vicinity of those values. The importance of good PR management has become clearer to those in charge of portuguese companies, and I support that there has been some change in that perception, but I think that this is not necessarily the case when it comes to the value of a good PR team.

    The point is: we are expected to do more (change perceptions, lift reputations, crysis management, handle media relations, strategic planning) with less. I´m not trying to pass the idea that PR sub and mid-level employees are victims in this whole ordeal, but it would be a breath of fresh air to see some difference in commitment and appreciation from companies who seek PR counseling. PR employees do not live off of their Directors salaries, and these have their hands tied because many times it is just not possible to raise their salaries without endangering their firm´s financial health.

    Miguel Pena

  3. I feel a bit sceptic regarding the Marketing/PR landscape in Portugal.

    Knowing that PR managers are getting a slightly larger salary than their marketing counterparts does seem to indicate they are getting a more relevant role in the strategy.

    But how is the scenario for the mid-level employees? Do these PR managers have a small team? What usually happens to students when they finish their degrees? Not to mention the budget that the PR managers work with.

    From my point of view it seems that the marketing-PR debate in Portugal will be solved outside of the corporate environment. But it can only come as result of coherent effort from the PR associations who appear dormant.

  4. Very interesting – I wouldn’t be surprised that where PR has succeeded in being appointed at board or senior management level, there was a high standard of remuneration. That this may well exceed that paid to marketing colleagues could reflect a novelty factor – but a positive indicator none the less.

    I suppose the issue then is how many of such post-holders are there, ie is this a very small minority of PR practitioners, and how does the entire career path of PR stack up against similar colleagues in marketing?

    My feeling from the UK (not research but based on contacts and running a JobSearch service for automotive PR practitioners) is that salaries in PR are comparable with those in the marketing sector. However, the number of PR directors at the highest level within organisations is probably fewer than the number of marketing directors at the top table (or C-suite).

  5. Joao,
    way back in 1965, long before you were born (!), as pr manager for 3M in Italy I was visiting hq’s in St. Paul (Minnesota) and had the rare privilege for a non american to run into the legendary founder William McKnight. We spoke for some time and I vividly remember when he told me that he was worried about the world because top management was beginning to make more than six times the lowest paid worker in the company….
    Can you imagine this?
    Anyhow..some a little over a year ago Ferpi organised in Milano a debate while releasing a Hay study on roles and salaries of public relations people compared with other internal functions. If interested you may find a full report, including the study, at this url
    I am sure there are many other similar studies: I seem to remember that both the swedish and the btitish associations have recently done similar studies. There is no doubt in my mind that, having bypassed the usual ‘naming game’, public relators are not only gaining ground in terms of remuneration and legitimacy inside the organization, but this bottom up trend is also accompanied by a left-right-left trend in the sense that more and more organizations (private, public, social) are attributing public relators a role. So our role expands both horizontally and vertically.

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