THINKPIECE: What must PR practitioners do to survive in alayoff-plagued work environment?

With the market for technology PR execs looking increasingly

queasy, those who were once totally secure in their job are fast

discovering that the seller's market of the last few years has finally

cycled off.

No longer are a fast-beating pulse and the ability to use the phone a

guarantee of competing job offers and an inflated title.

Recent layoffs have put a lot of formerly secure PR execs out on the

street. So what can those who are still-employed do to keep their names

off the unemployment rolls? In some cases, nothing. Depending on office

politics, time on the job or how poorly your agency has managed its

finances, you may just have to grab on to your Bacon's and pray. In some

instances, however, mid-level PR people can actively participate in

raising their chances of survival in a layoff-happy environment.

New business. Even if 'new business' is not part of your current job

description, if you can successfully land some new accounts, or get

existing accounts to pony up, you're proving your worth in the most

basic way - financially. It's hard to get rid of someone who's actively

winning clients.

Client coverage. While some SAE/AS level PR counselors pride themselves

on the lovely status reports they assemble, getting ink and electrons is

what ultimately matters the most. Writing status reports is easy,

getting The Wall Street Journal to write an article about a small

private company client is hard.

And as I mentioned earlier, now is an ideal time to be approaching the

press with interesting news. There are fewer companies, fewer flacks and

fewer stories. Don't take the snooty view that media relations is

low-level flunky work. If management has to decide between having great

weekly wrap-up reports and being able to say to a prospective client

'Jane knows half the writers at Business Week,' she's going to keep


Client rapport. It's important for your clients to respect your agency,

but it's even more important for them to value you. If a client looks to

you as the reason for all of their PR successes, it's much harder for

management to let you go (who knows, the client might go with you)

However, if the client sees you as just a go-between for the real

decision makers, look out.

Ultimately, the PR market will turn around. With less noise to compete

with, and maybe a bit more time on your hands, now is the perfect time

to establish some new media relationships, generate great coverage and

spend time tuning your PR skills.

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