EDITORIAL: Salaries to calm, jobs still mobile

It seems crazy to suggest that PR salaries went up, on average, by

18% in 2000. 'That can't be right,' has been the cry. 'Perhaps in

hi-tech,' people have suggested, tentatively. 'In New York. In the Bay

Area.' Wrong, wrong and 5,000 times wrong.



As the saying goes, numbers don't lie. And we've got the salary details

of 5,000 PR practitioners, of every age, in every sector, across every

discipline, and throughout the US, to prove it (see PRWeek/Text 100

Salary Survey 2001, p. 23).



PR salaries in 2000 were indeed out of control. At least from the

employers' point of view. How could they not be? Couple unprecedented

growth in a white hot economy with a severe talent shortage, and you

have an easy formula for spiraling wages.



Don't just blame hi-tech either. Salary growth in this sector was

unsurprisingly the highest at 27%. But pay claims were well above

average across every sector - even in the fiscally conservative arenas

of nonprofit and government. PR talent, in 2000, was at a premium,

period.



Now, as the PR industry faces up to an economic hangover, salary demands

are expected to calm down. But if you're an employer, don't think

expectations and the trend of job mobility will disappear. If last year

teaches us anything, it is the value of people in our business. People

stock is up, and rightly so, because the value of PR has been so much

enhanced.



If, as an employer, you cannot provide stimulating work, proper

training, new career opportunities, and continuing growth in

remuneration, you will lose out. 5,000 times over.



BSMG a pawn in IPG's seismic play



As another 'mid-size' communications group (True North) was almost

routinely gobbled up this week, it's becoming increasingly hard to see

the value of all this deal-making to the person who matters most: the

customer. Then again, it's not about customers, is it? It's about

shareholder value.



Certainly, we can see nothing in this latest deal that benefits BSMG,

the highly successful if relatively small public relations arm of True

North. Whereas the recently mooted deal between True North and Havas

would have aided BSMG's global expansion, especially in Europe, it's

hard to see the 'reach' that the IPG deal offers.



Perhaps the deal's most intriguing aspect concerns BSMG's position

within the new giant company. In an interview with PRWeek, IPG's Allied

Communications Group (ACG) CEO Larry Weber urged BSMG to join his

division so that BSMG is not a slave to True North's ad agency, FCB. but

we think the prospect of Harris Diamond reporting to Weber an unlikely

scenario, for two reasons. First, Diamond is no slave to advertising.

While enjoying a healthy relationship with FCB, BSMG is not its puppet,

with Diamond reporting directly to True North CEO David Bell, and also

chairing True North Diversified, an organization which directly mirrors

ACG.



But it seems to us that this deal is about bigger things than PR.

(Interpublic doesn't even stand to have No. 1 status in PR. IPG still

stands third in the PR stakes behind Omnicom and WPP.) It's a question

of alignment of huge continental plates. Having tidied up its PR

portfolio with the creation of Weber/Shandwick in support of

McCann-Erickson; and the bolstering of Golin/Harris in support of Lowe

Lintas & Partners, this deal is about bolting on a third ad agency, and

a third PR agency is bolted on beside it in support.



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