DC hi-tech explosion creates staff crunch

WASHINGTON DC: The Washington area has become a high-tech hot bed, creating a recruitment crisis for technology-oriented PR firms.

WASHINGTON DC: The Washington area has become a high-tech hot bed, creating a recruitment crisis for technology-oriented PR firms.

A growing number of PR practitioners with high-tech experience are relocating to the area. But there are still a critical number of unfilled positions for pros with high-tech credentials, according to Benjamin Long, president of Travaille, a DC-based executive search firm.

There is a '15 to 20% unfilled demand for high-tech PR professionals,' said Long. He predicted demand will continue for three to five years, 'unless the economy takes a huge downturn.'

The crunch is so pressing that Edelman Worldwide has hired a full-time recruiter just to scour the country to find good PR people for its DC high-tech practice. Wendy Tarzian, recruiting manager, said the market is 'extremely tight.' She added that mid-level PR professionals are the most difficult to find.

David Swanston, president of the PR division of Stackig Advertising & Public Relations in McLean, Virginia, agreed. The biggest void is in PR communicators with three to five years experience, because the demand is so great.

Karen Kennedy, president of KSK Communications in Vienna, Virginia, said 'this is a long-term problem. We need people with experience.' She has recently hired PR people who have relocated from Boston and Pittsburgh.

Job seekers can expect to earn in the 'mid-to-high $30's with three years experience and the high $40's with five years,' Swanston said. He pointed out that even though agencies can be competitive in salaries, clients also offer stock options.

Like Edelman, Stackig likes to hire and train their its own people and has aggressive programs in place to attract and keep employees. But Swanston noted that they still lose people. 'It's hard to be annoyed,' he said.

'They're young and see young hot CEO's. They feel like they need to try to get up there too.'.

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