COMMENT: Editorial - PR job hopping is a troubling trend

A new poll out last week shows that PR people are happy in their jobs and that agencies are creating a better working environment. The Thomas L. Harris/Impulse Research Employee Satisfaction Survey shows that 65% of PR employees polled were either 'very satisfied' or 'satisfied.' (see story p5). And a further 67% say they are appreciated in their jobs (up from 61% last year) while 71% said their jobs offer opportunities for training to improve their PR skills (up from 64%).

A new poll out last week shows that PR people are happy in their jobs and that agencies are creating a better working environment. The Thomas L. Harris/Impulse Research Employee Satisfaction Survey shows that 65% of PR employees polled were either 'very satisfied' or 'satisfied.' (see story p5). And a further 67% say they are appreciated in their jobs (up from 61% last year) while 71% said their jobs offer opportunities for training to improve their PR skills (up from 64%).

A new poll out last week shows that PR people are happy in their jobs and that agencies are creating a better working environment. The Thomas L. Harris/Impulse Research Employee Satisfaction Survey shows that 65% of PR employees polled were either 'very satisfied' or 'satisfied.' (see story p5). And a further 67% say they are appreciated in their jobs (up from 61% last year) while 71% said their jobs offer opportunities for training to improve their PR skills (up from 64%).

But think about this before you get all warm and fuzzy: if PR workers are so happy with their jobs, why are so many of them hopping from prospect to prospect, sometimes staying for as little as two months before moving on to greener pastures?

Despite this survey, the mobility of the PR industry must be to the detriment of the industry. True, gone are the days of workers sitting in sweatshops clipping newspaper articles with rusty scissors. PR agencies are doing more and more to recruit and retain their employees (see our feature p14).

Managers and CEOs are getting the message: a happy worker is an efficient worker.

But more needs to be done.

A pan-industry survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers last year showed that job hopping is more prevalent and more acceptable in PR than in any other industry. That is the worrisome statistic on which the industry must focus.

And bear in mind that for all those 65% of employees who are satisfied, at the very least, more than one third of employees are honing their resumes as we speak.

PR pro? Says who?

Over the years, it's become popular and acceptable to refer to PR practitioners as 'PR pros. 'We think it's time to desist.

Who knows how this couplet first became into the PR lexicon? Ironically, it isn't even feature in the Webster's New World Dictionary of Media and Communications, a compendium written by PR veteran Richard Weiner.

One possible derivation is the UK, where practitioners are regularly referred to as PROs, an acronym for Public Relations Officers. In the US, however, the phrase is used in a more self-aggrandizing sense, to connote 'professionalism,' and in an effort to upgrade PR to a 'profession' rather than a 'trade'.

It also seeks to draw a distinction between 'professionals' and 'amateurs,' the tour guides and customer reps who pose as PR people and who are thought to lower the credibility of the profession.

Yet the flaws in this thinking are all too apparent. On what authority are PR practitioners allowed to call themselves 'professionals'? It's certainly not on the basis of any 'professional' credentials, or certification (like medicine, law, accounting). It's not on pay. And it's not on on competence either. In its clumsily self-conscious effort to elevate the profession, it invites the contempt of journalists and others, who rightly retort, 'As opposed to what, PR amateur?'

There are plenty of good words to describe people in the PR business - PR executives, PR practitioners, PR counselors, PR strategists, PR officers, or just plain PR people. It's not names that determine 'professionals'.

It's actions.





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