Foreword to the 2016 State of the Industry Report

craig_hoyCraig Hoy introduces The 2016 State of the Industry Report, highlighting the key themes and findings from the salary survey and interviews

VISITHUBThe challenges facing communications and corporate affairs professionals operating in Asia Pacific have changed dramatically over the past half-decade. According to the 2016 State of the Industry report research, conducted by PublicAffairsAsia in partnership with Prospect, further transformation can be expected over the next five years.

In some of this region’s markets, growth is slowing as the switch from developing to developed status takes hold. But in other markets economic progress remains rapid and there are big shifts ahead. This era of change presents opportunities for businesses but also challenges, especially for corporate communicators, who face greater consumer activism and a more diverse media, along with stakeholders and regulatory bodies that have become more agile, better informed and directly engaged.

As a result, this report finds, there is a growing recognition of the importance of educated and informed communications. Chief Communications Officers and Corporate Affairs Directors are enjoying closer proximity to senior management even if their position is not always formally represented on the board.


As these changes take place, the rise of digital has created a new sense of corporate vulnerability, with viral communications injecting a greater need for urgency. It has also given communicators new, powerful  and measurable tools. This requires rapid upskilling, both in terms of digital communications and analytics, in a sector already widely seen as suffering a talent deficit.

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At the same time, traditional communications “disciplines” have merged and blended: PR agencies are using the language of advertising agencies, and vice versa. Consulting businesses are broadening their offering and some agencies are rebranding and dropping “PR” from their name, emphasising the importance of influence and engagement. Meanwhile, barriers between internal and external communications have come down. The links between citizens, consumers, NGOs, media, policymakers and regulators are closer than ever before.

As practitioners grappled with these new realities, 2015 saw some radical shifts in the form and function of corporate communications and public affairs departments across Asia Pacific. At the same time, intense competition for resources along with tighter budgets have led to a feeling that communications directors are being asked to do more with less.

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 10.43.30With many in-house teams stretched, these should be good times for the agency sector. But, as this report finds, considerable work needs to be done before both sides of the in-house and agency relationship feel they are benefitting fully from their collaborative engagement.

This report, based on interviews with over 40 frontline practitioners and a survey of 356 professionals, examines the key trends, analyses the critical issues and highlights important benchmarks such as the salaries, bonuses and benefits of those working in the industry.

Chapter one contains full details on the wider industry salary survey. In brief, we find that the market remains buoyant, with salaries increasing last year. Average salaries across sectors in Asia Pacific are currently US$130,703 – an annual rise of 5.5% (lower than the 7.2% recorded in 2014-15). Salaries remain highest in Australia, with Singapore next and Hong Kong in third place.

Mid-level and senior staff in the in-house sector tend to out-earn their equivalents in agency roles. Lastly, in terms of numbers, we find evidence that the stubborn problem of gender pay inequality is narrowing – the male-to-female pay-gap has closed from over a quarter last year to one-fifth this year.

In other ways, too, while the report highlights the challenges the industry faces, it provides grounds for optimism. In the words of one well-known senior professional: “I am confident. If we get the dynamics right, we can lead with this mash-up of the disciplines – we understand the role of influence and we understand the role of content.”

We hope you enjoy reading the report, which can be downloaded here, and look forward to any comments or questions you may have about its content and conclusions.

Craig Hoy is the Executive Director of PublicAffairsAsia.

Contact Craig via this link