Briefing: public relations trade and professional media

About the author

Richard Bailey Hon FCIPR is editor of PR Academy's PR Place Insights. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students.

This is not the place to rehearse the trade-or-profession debate, but it’s a useful frame for understanding the ways in which public relations is presented in the media. This is also a good place to chart the shift from print to online sources of information. What and who can we trust?

PR Week UK


Michael Heseltine’s Haymarket launched PR Week in 1984 as a stablemate of Campaign magazine, in existence since 1968. This explains its emphasis to this day. Campaign is focused on marketing, advertising and media and PR Week sees public relations as a form of weak advertising in which agencies (sometimes called ‘shops’) win clients and deliver campaigns (some subsequently collecting PR Week awards).

For most of its life PR Week has been a classic trade publication, delivered free to registered subscribers, funded by advertising. Yet changes in the media landscape mean that PR Week is no longer a weekly publication, nor is it free. It went monthly in 2013 though retaining its well-recognised name. Today subscribers receive its news and commentary online and through email updates.

Subscription and availability

PR Week content is paywall protected, with limited access to non subscribers. An individual subscription costs from £35 a month and there are packages available for multi-user subscriptions. Individual members of the PRCA are able to subscribe to PR Week for £130 plus VAT per year.

Editorial team

PR Week does have some strong assets as befits its long history as the leading trade publication covering public relations. Its annual awards are still coveted, and its annual league table of agency rankings is an important piece of industry research. Above all, its editor in chief Danny Rogers (@dannyrogers2001) is a well-respected commentator who has been well placed to observe the blurring of lines between advertising and public relations (he has also edited Campaign magazine). His 2015 book Campaigns that Shook the World provides a narrative of how public relations has evolved over the past few decades through detailed case studies.

UK editor is John Harrington (@John_Harring) who heads a team with two further reporters.


PR Week also has a strong brand internationally, with regional editions covering the US, Asia and Middle East. It’s rare for British publishers to succeed in the US, so PR Week deserves credit for becoming established across the Atlantic.

As the premier trade publication covering public relations, it has spawned imitators and competitors. PRmoment and PRovoke Media are led and staffed by people who learnt their trade at PR Week.



Unlike PR Week, PRmoment has no print legacy. It began in 2009 as a website and now competes with PR Week as an event and awards organiser, and shares with PR Week a similar preoccupation with public relations agencies and the people who work for them.

It is also something of a British export success story, with a PRmoment India website. Creative Moment is another spin-off that started in 2018 that recognises the overlaps between advertising, branding and public relations and the opportunity for those seeking to position themselves as the lead creative agency.

Editorial team

PRmoment publisher and Creative Moment co-creator Ben Smith has a business development background within public relations, and his podcast interviews with prominent consultants are detailed and insightful.

Editor Daney Parker (@daneyparker) is keen to crowdsource contributions to themed articles, and often seeks vox pops via her social media channels.

The editorial emphasis is on features and opinion articles, leaving news coverage to PR Week and PRovoke Media.

Subscription and availability

The website is free; those who register their email addresses are offered email updates from the site and this is a free service (the publisher gains the ability to promote events and conferences to subscribers). 

PRovoke Media


This is yet another successful British export. Founder Paul Holmes (@paulholmespr) has a background in newspapers in the north of England and was a former news editor at PR Week. He has run his own publishing business, for long known as the Holmes Report, since 2000, and previous titles have included Inside PR and Reputation Management magazine.

Editorial team

Paul Holmes has gathered a well-known and highly-respected team reporting in particular on the global consultancy business: Maja Pawinska Sims (@sparklypinchy) from London; Arun Sudhaman (@ArunSudhaman)  in Hong Kong and Diana Marszalek (@Dkmarszalek) in New York.

This tight team rivals PR Week for news scoops and is unmatched for its analysis of global industry trends. 

Subscription and availability

Most PRovoke Media content is free to view but some longer analysis pieces (‘longreads’) are only available to subscribers who pay $199 a year. 

Influence online


Having ended its longstanding partnership with PR Week, and having only achieved sporadic success with its own member publications in the past, the CIPR changed up a gear by commissioning Influence Magazine, a quarterly glossy sent to members. First published 2016, it appeared in print for several years and won a succession of publishing awards. Cost constraints mean it’s no longer printed and mailed to CIPR members, leaving Influence as an online source with some open access articles and others available only to members.

Influence online no longer has a full-time editor.


The PRCA is not a publisher beyond its website and social media feeds. But it’s a supporter of a number of existing trade publications. The PRCA offers a reduced fee subscription to PR Week for individual members; it works closely with PRmoment and its international counterpart ICCO works closely with PRovoke Media.

If the trade publications highlighted above all focus on the commercial consultancy sector, there are several publications targeted at in-house communicators.

Communicate magazine


Published by Andrew Thomas, this Cravenhill Publishing title describes itself as ‘a trade magazine dedicated to the UK corporate communications community.’

Subscription and availability

The print magazine is available to subscribers (£90 for four editions) with some content appearing for free on the website.

CorpComms magazine


Launched in 2005, this is a print magazine targeted at in-house communicators. 

Editorial team

Editor and publisher Helen Dunne (@CorpCommsMagazine) is a former financial journalist. 

Subscription and availability

A free subscription offers limited access to website articles. A full one year subscription to the print magazine (four editions) and to content behind the paywall costs £300.

Content marketing approaches

So far we have covered trade and professional media that are either commercially-operated or supported by professional bodies or membership associations. But the old model of subscription-based or controlled-circulation print publications is giving way to a more varied diet of free online information and opinion. Just consider the range of free content available on individual blogs and LinkedIn posts. Yet how do you distinguish high quality information from less reliable sources? How can you trust the results of a Google search?

This is where curated approaches add value. PR Place Insights attempts this with the #ThisWeekinPR each Friday morning. Influence online does this with its curated selected of original and re-published articles. But one other source of reliable content merits a mention here.

Media database vendor Vuelio hosts industry news and commentary as well as sponsoring its annual blogging awards – now known as the Online Influence awards. It’s a useful site for charting the evolution of influencer marketing, as well as a good example of business-to-business content marketing.

Media still needed

Google – and artificial intelligence – is good and getting better. But we still need people to make informed judgements over the content they receive. As the title of the CIPR’s report into AI put it, ‘Humans still needed.’

Despite the proliferation of free content online, can I propose another way to summarise this article? Media still needed. Not every appointment is news. Not every client win is news. Not every opinion is equally well informed. It takes caution and it takes judgement to navigate an online world full of misinformation, disinformation and conspiracy theories. That’s why we need journalists – and academics too – to act as sensemakers. There’s no lack of content. Sometimes all that’s missing is insight.

Yet commercial publishing is evidently a precarious business. Print is on the way out and there’s a limited appetite for online-only subscriptions. Events appear to the the main source of income for most publishers.

What about academic publishing?

Academic publishing follows a much less precarious model; it’s still a very lucrative business for publishers. That’s because journals can rely on editorial teams drawn from salaried academics giving their time for free; contributors also submit their articles for free, motivated by the prestige of being published in a peer-reviewed journal. Yet the publishers can charge high subscription fees knowing that there’s a captive market of universities willing to subscribe to bundles of academic journals (so these are priced for institutions, not for individuals). Many have pointed out the inconsistency of publicly-funded research being used for private profit and there has been some limited movement towards open access publications. Yet the current model persists and means there’s too little knowledge exchange between academic journals and practitioners.

If I started this briefing by mentioning the ongoing trade-profession debate, perhaps the most damaging divide of all in a would-be profession is between academic researchers and practitioners. You couldn’t imagine medical practitioners being wilfully ignorant of or dismissive of the value of medical research. Yet that seems to me to sum up where we are currently in public relations. Nor are practitioners solely to blame. The entrenched and lucrative model of academic publishing means that academics are incentivised to write for an audience of fellow academics whose approval of their work is essential to their success; and the published articles are in effect available only to fellow academics with library access.

UPDATE: This article was first published on 27 November 2019 and updated with new information on 20 February 2023.