Steady as she goes
It should be no surprise that the results of the 2009 ContentWise Compensation & Staffing survey reflect the effects of the economic situation. Some low notes: at 1.69 percent, anticipated compensation increases are the lowest the survey has recorded in its ten-year history. Average compensation for entry-level positions fell 5.9 percent, to $40,669 (still a pretty decent starting salary by national standards, however). After the average pay for editorial positions overtook that for communications positions in last year’s survey, those same positions saw a 1.75 percent decrease this year.
Yet the overall news about the level of dedication to custom media efforts, as measured by compensation and staffing levels, is positive. So, on this tenth anniversary of the survey, we thought it would be instructive to pull back and look at trends over the past decade to gain a sense of perspective.
The trends show that the biggest shift involves who’s working on custom publica-tions, with editorial and design specialists taking over from communications generalists. And they show a remarkably consistent commitment to custom publishing, with salaries holding well against inflation and with average time and personnel commit-ments relatively constant.
The role of the specialist is recognized
Over the past decade, the task of producing custom publications has shifted from being the role of generalist communicators to being the responsibility of those in specialty roles. In 2009, editorial positions accounted for 46 percent and design for 26 percent of the responsibility for custom publications, for a combined total of 72 percent. In contrast, the responsibility for custom publications fell to communicators 61 percent of the time in 2000.
Average salaries have outpaced inflation
In 2000, the average salary for someone who worked on a custom publication was $48,484. Using the inflation calculator provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we can see that in 2009, you would need to earn $60, 039 to have the equivalent buying power of the 2000 salary. The current average salary for those responsible for custom publications is $63,136, or 5.16 percent ahead of inflation. The chart below also shows that, although communications positions still pay better overall, compensation for the three types of positions is converging.
Smaller organizations can’t keep up
In 2003, we began breaking out the results of the survey by large and small organizations. Organizations that are capitalized at $1 billion or more were paying almost the same average salary as smaller organizations in 2006, but since then have pulled away, offering salaries that are roughly 25 percent higher than their smaller counterparts can offer.
Nonprofits also pay less
Although the gap between for-profit and nonprofit organizations is currently smaller than that between large and small organizations, it is still noteworthy. The survey has broken out results by organization type since 2004.
Time and personnel commitment is relatively consistent
The average amount of time that an employee spends on custom publishing efforts has remained remarkably constant over the years—53 percent in 2000, 55 percent in 2009, with an average of 53 percent across the decade. The average number of full-time equivalent employees is calculated by multiplying this percentage of work time by the average number of employees that organizations report are working on custom publications. As a result, the FTE metric has also not varied greatly since we first began tracking it in 2003.
See the full results
Premium subscribers to ContentWise can view the full results of the 2009 Compensation & Staffing Survey here. You’ll find all the detailed results from the past ten years, including breakouts of hours committed, anticipated staffing levels, productivity, and more. Members of the Custom Publishing Council may also contact Lori Rosen (email@example.com) for a slide deck highlighting results from this year’s survey and trends since 2000.
Spotlight on: anticipated vs. actual compensation
Budgeters, take note: When asked to predict the future, people are bad at it.
Each year, we ask respondents to indicate whether they anticipate overall compensation to increase or decrease, and by how much. Our tracking shows that the only prediction that is reliably accurate is the one that says people’s predictions will be wrong. For example, in 2008, the average pay increase for 2009 was anticipated to be 3.0 percent. Had that occurred, it would have brought the average compensation to $62,068. As it turned out, the actual pay increase was 4.77 percent in 2009, which brought the average compensation to $63,136, amounting to $1,068 above the estimate made the previous year. That might be heartening news, since the anticipated increase for next year is the lowest our survey has ever recorded, 1.69 percent. However, that anticipation often does not match reality, as seen in the following chart that shows the accuracy of predictions for the past five years and the prediction for 2010. It applies each year’s anticipated increase to the following year’s actual average compensation to produce the actual average change—one of which was a significant decrease, in 2006.