EDITORIAL: Don't stop hiring quality

Agency layoffs show no signs of diminishing, as the PR industry's

hi-tech hangover continues. But while these corrective measures are

nothing to be ashamed of, there has to be some concern about the

development of the next PR generation. Because it's just not

happening.



As executive recruitment firms attest (see 'PR powerbrokers,' p. 16),

the industry keeps hiring senior staff for key positions. But it's

increasingly evident that recruitment of entry-level staff has been

frozen at many firms, with the focus now on experience, and agencies

looking to redeploy resources.



While that 'last in, first out' policy is understandable, there has to

be some concern about the long-term impact of an entry-level recruitment

freeze.



With junior-level corporate PR positions increasingly scarce, it has

become incumbent upon the agencies to develop the next generation of PR

experts. But few agencies have pockets deep enough (or alternatively,

parent companies indulgent enough) to support personal development of

entry-level staff when there's no work out there.



The question that agencies need to ask, however, is what happens when

the economy picks up? Unfortunately, in the present scenario, PR firms

(as well as corporate PR teams) will not be ready with properly-trained

staff to meet the demand, in an exact repetition of the last economic

cycle.



The PRWeek/Text 100 Salary Survey showed (PRWeek, March 26) only 56% of

junior-level staff are committed to a career in PR. If the industry

thinks it can just sweep up talent when the economy picks up, it will

get what it deserves: trash.



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