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'Word of Mouth', referral, primary channel of recruitment in Public Affairs: PAFI-Ipsos Study

At least 6 in 10 experts polled (63%) believe that word of mouth/ referral is the primary channel of recruitment in public affairs, followed by LinkedIn (55%) and recruitment agencies (51%).

These are some of the key findings of the 'Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI)-Ipsos joint study titled 'Public Affairs Career in India – A Turning Point'.

PAFI, the national platform for public affairs professionals in India roped in Ipsos, a global market research company, to undertake a survey to identify career and compensation trends for Public Affairs professionals in India.

Retention a challenge

Retention was seen as a major challenge by at least 2 in 3 of the experts polled. For high levels of churn, the experts believed, better job opportunities in the market (47%), unrealistic expectations from the employers (34%) and salary discontent (30%) could be some of the reasons.

Though almost 6 in 10 professionals interviewed (59%) felt the biggest challenge for the industry per se was the lack of relevant metrics to demonstrate business value (59%) and vague career progression path (47%).

TS Vishwanath, director general, of PAFI, said, "The public affairs profession in India is about 15 years old. Quite nascent. This was a maiden study undertaken by PAFI in partnership with Ipsos, to understand from the PA professionals their perception of the various aspects of PA and the report is highly insightful in guiding us to address expectations and challenges of the PA professionals."

"We’ve explored, identified and documented the career progression path, remuneration trends, occupational advancement and challenges faced by PA professionals in the comprehensive study. The findings provide interesting insights into the expectations of industry professionals. The PA industry is grappling with credibility in demonstrating to organisations about what it brings to the table and while its contribution is immense, the recognition is not enough," said Parijat Chakraborty, group country service line leader public affairs & corporate reputation, Ipsos India.

Skills in policy affairs

The study also captured the desired professional traits for hiring in PA and domain expertise was the most desired lever highlighted by at least 64% of professionals. Communication skills (57%) and training (55%) were the other attributes preferred for hire.

The impact of the pandemic was moderate on the sector said 45% of the professionals polled. Though one in 6 felt a major impact on employee functional engagement.

Remuneration in PA

Broadly, annual remuneration in public affairs hovered between 25 lacs to 5 crores and depended on the organization's turnover (revenue) and employee strength.

For instance, 27% had annual gross revenue of Rs. 10,000 crores and 1/3rd turnover between 2,000-10,000 crores.

The organisations largely belonged to diversified sectors, digital sectors (IT, telecom, media), and MNCs, among others.

How we did it

Ipsos interviewed PAFI members and non-member organisations using a structured questionnaire, largely senior to mid-level PA professionals. Data collection was done both online and offline (face-to-face). Interviews were conducted at PAFI events and mailed to members with the online survey link. About 83 professionals participated in the study.

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