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Interesting surveys from the US

Gillian Findlay APR, PRCC chairman, shares three interesting surveys that came across her desk in January 2013.

Although all emanate from the US, they made interesting reading and are summarised here:

  • Let’s look at the bad news first: According to US careers website, CareerCast, the role of a public relations practitioner is the fifth most stressful career path, up from seventh in 2012. In the US, public relations is even more stressful than being a police officer! With many communication crises in 2012, such as disgraced athletes, disgraced politicians, and a disgraced (late) BBC presenter, the need for damage control has kept public relations experts on the hop. In addition, the website believes that the high profile profession has attracted many new entrants, making the job prospects less rosy.

    It can be a relentless job, with little respite. NBC News pointed out: If you do something right, clients are always searching for the next big hit, and meanwhile you’re the one they call when a scandal breaks over a holiday weekend.

  • Thankfully, there is also good news for communicators. Yahoo Education tipped the Public Relations Specialist as one of the eight hot careers to watch for 2013 and beyond, coincidentally also in fifth position!

    A key factor is the dynamic nature of media and technology which has taken the field of public relations forward. Laurence Shatkin, author of Best Jobs for the 21st Century, had this to say: "With instant access to social media, it is more important than ever for individuals and organisations to get professional help maintaining a positive public image. Specialists who work well with this new media are needed to build a reputation or save someone from scandal." In the US, growth in public relations specialists is projected at 23% between 2010 and 2020.

    Matthew Schwartz of PR News noted that: “There are other forces at work here, primarily the diminishing returns of “paid” media (read: advertising schedules) and the spike in “earned” media, which is a synonym for public relations. The ability of companies of all stripes to produce and distribute their own media assets—with an assist by the public relations department and/or public relations agency—is another factor that’s driving the growth in public relations jobs.”

  • And finally, a highly gratifying survey came from Baylor University which interviewed senior public relations professionals, with an average of 27 years’ experience in the US and Australia. The findings revealed them to be ethically driven, showing courage in speaking out on ethical issues. Some were fired or demoted for refusing to undertake unethical activities, two resigned when their advice was rejected, including one who refused to include false information in a press release.

    One respondent commented that “I can’t afford to lose my credibility … As public relations professionals, it’s all we have. And if I lose my credibility here, it’s not like I can just go start over with someone else, somewhere else.”

PRISA takes ethical conduct very seriously. All members of the Institute are required to abide by its Code of Ethics and Professional Standards and it is heartwarming to see public relations practitioners setting high standards in this regard.

January 2013

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