From the editor - Changes in job market suggest new focus

The PR jobs market has changed dramatically over the past 18 months. In the middle of 2007, most senior comms professionals were confiding that their two biggest management issues were retaining good staff and spiralling salary inflation.

Danny Rogers
Danny Rogers

But, as we approach Christmas 2008, we find a more static jobs market with rather different problems facing senior managers.

PRWeek’s research in recent weeks has revealed that, in the private sector at least, demand for new staff possessing traditional PR skills has slowed significantly.

While some in-house departments and consultancies are still replacing staff that leave, many are holding off hiring their usual tranche of generalist practitioners until the economic picture becomes clearer.

Thankfully, so far at least, large-scale redundancies of comms professionals are not occurring. Many managers are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach until later in the first quarter of 2009. The upside would be that recruitment returns to full throttle after an encouraging start to the New Year.

Meanwhile, the public sector PR recruitment market is looking relatively lively. The new COI roster (News, 28 November) shows that there will be no shortage of public information campaigns, while Alistair Darling’s apparent determination for the Government to spend its way out of recession suggests a buoyant public sector for 2009, if not beyond.

Another notable development is a comparatively strong market for internal comms specialists. As we report this week, large organisations seem keen to hire staff with experience in this area and several of the larger PR consultancies are intent on bolstering their offering here.

The positive explanation for this would be that firms are finally recognising the importance of their employees as stakeholders and advocates, and are keen to raise morale and performance. A more negative take would be that firms are preparing for major redundancies in 2009 and arming themselves accordingly. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.

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