PR week recently reported on some public relations job cuts among San Francisco firms. While cuts were made to administrative staff and account teams, the firms are continuing to hire and search for experienced and strong public relations candidates. The main impetus for one firm to conduct a few layoffs was the loss of an account to another PR firm. Recession fears did not directly impact the decisions, though the CEO of a San Francisco area PR agency did concede that “the headlines are pushing people to be cautious.”
Projections look strong for the public relations industry
StevenGouldPincus recently surveyed 156 public relations firms in the U.S. to get a better understanding of where the industry is headed in 2008 and how it is holding up during the current economic crisis.
Among the findings: 83% of the agencies reported that their client budgets have not been affected by the worsening economy, while 75% expect their revenues to increase this year.
One finding that should be of interest to public relations professionals currently in the job market is that 100% of agencies with excesses of $25 million in revenue reported that their budgets are holding steady, with 88% of those expecting increased revenues in 2008. So the place to work is with the larger agencies, as they are the most likely to weather the economic storm.
Regional snapshots of the public relations industry
California is one state where the outlook is not as strong for the public relations industry as in rest of the country. But California does have a budget crisis of its own, which may be impacting business overall. The survey reports that northern California will show the lowest increase in revenues at 58%. This may be the reason the San Francisco firms mentioned above have made cutbacks.
The Midwest and the Southwest, meanwhile, anticipate the highest revenue increases.
Why is the public relations industry the exception to the rule?
In the midst of layoffs, cutbacks, and slowing profits, why is public relations on the rise? The mortgage industry has been battered, the manufacturing industry has borne the brunt of the storm, and various other sectors have been hard hit.
StevensGouldPincus speculates that “corporate America needs PR to further its corporate and marketing aims, despite what’s going on around it.” The public relations industry is useful in providing services to companies that help them to resist down times. As such, while companies may be scaling back overall, one budget many will not cut back on is public relations.
Advice for PR professionals
If you are in the job market, look for positions with the top public relations firms. The larger the firm, the more likely it can weather the current economic storm. Also, hone your public relations skills in such a way that you’ll be able to put any client’s best foot forward in this uncertain time. This way, you’ll be able to catch the attention of employers looking for exceptional talent.
All signs indicate that public relations is the industry to be in and that PR professionals will come out on top after the recession storm blows over.