Most of the coverage I've seen about the PR business lately has been pretty upbeat. The consensus seems to be that the future of the profession is very bright. I would tend to agree. Not only is it exciting to see money shifting from other disciplines to ours; it's also exciting to see entire new industries that have never valued our work starting to hire PR professionals.
For example, five years ago hedge funds and private equity firms would rarely have internal or external PR counsel. In fact, if they had their druthers, these firms would continue to operate under the radar. Well, the world has certainly changed for them, and this has created new markets for our profession.
It would be safe to bet that the majority of CEOs of alternative investment firms of any size and note now have their PR counsel on speed dial. Managing directors and CEOs of these firms have always valued crisis communications, but now they value brand building as well. This is a major shift in thinking that is creating whole new markets for the PR industry. As a result, firms like mine are mining new territory in addition to the quest to win existing market share. And I am certain there are many other industry examples like this one.
PR professionals need to take advantage of the shift in attitudes and mindsets and stake our ground. It is the PR generation of today that will mold the belief systems of the future. We need to rise to the occasion with the smarts and business savvy (as opposed to just PR savvy) necessary to hold the attention of these PR Virgins and institutionalize our services within their firms.
As most communicators know, it is much easier to practice our profession within an institution that is familiar with it than to pioneer the profession with those that are not. As a “PR entrepreneur” of sorts, I see major opportunities for the expansion of my business, but I also see an opportunity for the profession as a whole. If we play our cards right, we can continue to win favor with and attract dollars from the companies we have served for years, as well as these emerging market firms.
Jen Prosek is managing partner at CJP Communications.