Highlights from the Independent Practitioner’s Survey

The PRSA-Richmond Independent Practitioners Section conducted a survey in February-March 2019 that provides insights into how local independent PR pros operate. The anonymous survey encourages competition by aggregating sensitive information, such as billing rates, contract structures, and expenses. Its questions mirror a national survey conducted between August-September 2018 by the PRSA Independent Practitioners Alliance, allowing for comparisons between the local and national markets. Here is what we learned about the respondents:


Most Richmond independent PR practitioners serve non-profits and corporations (51% and 25%, respectively) and provide media relations, strategic planning, and writing services. Other clients include small businesses, agencies, and government. Practice areas are predominately local or regional (56% and 27%, respectively), with fewer being national and global in reach.

Contract Rates

The vast majority of survey respondents structure contracts to meet client needs using a combination of retainers, project rates, and hourly rates. Most practitioners expect to earn either $100/hour or $150/hour. Thirty-six percent of respondents charge more for certain services, such as crisis communications or rush orders. Approximately half of respondents offer non-profits a discounted hourly rate. The discounts range from 3% to 60% and average 23%. The lower the practitioner’s target hourly rate, the more likely the discount is below average or absent.

Time Allocation

PR pros wear many hats to run independent businesses, spending an average of 68% of their time practicing public relations, 10% on new business development, and 9% on administrative duties. They split their remaining time between professional development, teaching, and pro bono work.


The overhead of independent practitioners is low. However, healthcare is a major expenditure. Private health insurance for the individuals/families averaged 22% of the total income for independent practitioners who did not receive coverage from a spouse/partner.

About the Respondents

In its first year, the survey responses included 61% of PRSA-Richmond’s Independent Practitioners Section currently practicing members. However, the sample size is small at 11 participants. The respondents were 91% female with more than 25 years of public relations experience. Of note, most respondents work part-time, billing an average of 16.7 hours per week.

Download the full results (PDF).

For more information, contact:
Deborah Long
(804) 360-0074