Editorial: Staying on track for PR growth

The snapshot of the PR industry provided by this year’s PR Week/Media Appointments salary survey suggests that doom-laden comparisons with the chaotic days of the late 1980s boom are wide of the mark.

The snapshot of the PR industry provided by this year’s PR

Week/Media Appointments salary survey suggests that doom-laden

comparisons with the chaotic days of the late 1980s boom are wide of the

mark.



Last year’s survey showed pay settlements shooting up, as the industry

struggled to keep up with sudden influx of new business and employers

were forced to bid ever higher to recruit the right staff. At the time

we warned that if this trend was allowed to continue unchecked it would

start to damage the long term future of businesses already under

pressure of tighter margins.



This year, the industry seems to have heeded the warning. Although the

average percentage increases are still high enough to annoy Gordon

Brown, the overall trend is downwards. Despite the fact that the

shortage of experienced staff is still as acute as ever, it seems that

employers are keeping a check on pay rises. Agencies are also less

prepared to add bells and whistles to the packages provided for their

more junior staff, indicating that such benefits now have to be

earned.



The mood of new realism appears to be reflected in the attitude of

respondents too, with financial rewards slipping even further down their

list of priorities for their jobs this year, even though the 1998 survey

reveals they are working as hard as ever with 11 or 12 hour days often

the norm.



On the whole, they remain optimistic about the general state of the

economy.



Many expect to move jobs over the next 12 months however, although they

have become more choosy about potential employers - placing a lot of

emphasis on the market reputation of companies in deciding which

opportunities to apply for.



But again the biggest disappointment is the lack of training given to PR

staff. While some basic ’off the peg’ items like computer skills and

presentation training are reasonably well catered for, the percentage of

staff that say they have received other types of training is still

pitifully low.



While both agencies and in house department remain under pressure to

produce ever better results for lower costs, training is all too often

the casualty when it comes to setting budgets. This leads to staff

dissatisfaction, more defections and ultimately to higher wage

costs.



Many agencies talk enthusiastically about training but some still remain

wary of ’training staff for their rivals’. It is an understandable, but

shortsighted attitude. With experienced staff still at a premium,the

industry needs to invest in nurturing its talent if it is to thrive in

the long term.



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