Most respondents in PRWeek's Corporate Survey have been in their current jobs for fewer than three years, some for less than one.
In that time, the economy has roiled, business pages have been dominated by corporate scandal and the resulting legislative overhauls trying to thwart them, and the US' relationship with the rest of the world has changed, following 9/11 and war in Iraq.
It has truly been a "perfect storm," as one person recently characterized it. But the benefits of enduring the tough challenges are beginning to be realized, as budgets and expectations start to creep up. These departments are working harder than ever, it's true. But they are also smarter, more focused, and confident in the strength of their contribution to their companies.
Obviously, helping manage change has been a role for these communications leaders to play, but the most interesting revolution has occurred in their own departments. There is a distinct absence in the interviews of that old chestnut, "How do we gain more relevance in our companies?" Instead, many have seized responsibility, almost getting more than they can reasonably handle. When things are hard and headcounts are low, there is often a vacuum in some of the organization's vital, more risky, functions. Leaders chose to break out of their silos and help answer the needs of senior executives and sales teams, far beyond their stated remit.
Many in-house pros say they struggle to find good people for their departments. But that's no surprise, as the standards have changed. Sure, it is clear there is no consistency across the profession for how vital and challenging the PR role has become. Signs are, though, that the game has changed for good, and for the better.