Demand for PR pros is high despite flat unemployment rate

WASHINGTON: While the US unemployment rate was unchanged in March, demand for PR professionals is high, according to a recruiter for the PR and marketing industries.

WASHINGTON: While the US unemployment rate was unchanged in March, demand for PR professionals is high, according to a recruiter for the PR and marketing industries.

Most communications agencies are hiring, with demand for PR professionals hovering around pre-recession levels, says Brian Phifer, CEO of talent management firm Phifer & Company.

The US government added 192,000 jobs in March, according to numbers released by The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. The unemployment rate remained flat from the prior month, at 6.7%.   

However, PR and marketing agencies are "clamoring for talent" across the board, Phifer said.

Demand for PR professionals increased during the recession because those services were more cost-effective than advertising, Phifer claimed. PR was also "one of the smarter sectors" because it expanded into social and digital media, he added.

According to the US Department of Labor, the private sector has added 8.9 million jobs through 49 consecutive months of growth.

"At the height of the recession, there were six job seekers for every job available," said Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, in a statement. "Today, it’s two-and-a-half people competing for every open job."

Earlier this week, the US Department of Labor released numbers on occupational employment and wages for May 2013. Of the approximately 6.5 million management occupations, advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers accounted for more than 608,000 jobs. There were more than 53,000 PR and fundraising managers.

Advertising, marketing, PR, and sales managers made $124,640 annually, with median hourly wages of $53.55, according to the report.

Public relations specialists accounted for more than 202,000 jobs out of about 1.7 million in the arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media category.

Those specialists made $63,020 annually, with median hourly wages of $26.41, the survey said.

To address the shortage of PR talent, agencies should infuse a high quality of life with the aim of "making [the profession] fun again," Phifer advised.

"The marketing world used to be really fun, considered a ‘dream job’ almost like going into the entertainment world," he said. However, creativity became stunted at many companies as they focused on a return on investment rather than "doing great work," Phifer added.

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