State of the Public Relations Field

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Posted At: January 1, 2008 9:40 AM
by Abby Barton

From businesses and nonprofit associations to political campaigns and universities, the field of public relations continues to be attractive to students, educators and practitioners. But where exactly do you fit into the public relations field? Whether you are taking your first course in public relations, searching for a career in the field or teaching students the skills needed to be a successful practitioner, the state of the public relations field is applicable to you.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2006-07 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, in 2004, public relations specialists held about 188,000 jobs and the median salary was $43,830.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook states that “keen competition likely will continue for entry-level public relations jobs, as the number of qualified applicants is expected to exceed the number of job openings.”

However, the handbook adds that the “employment of public relations specialists is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2014,” and that “the need for good public relations in an increasingly competitive business environment should spur demand for public relations specialists in organizations of all types and sizes.”

The field of public relations is broad and continually changing. Keeping up with trends and dealing with everyday communication challenges such as finding and keeping a job is crucial.

Julie Jarrett, vice president of Heyman Associates, and an expert in the field, currently oversees all steps in the hiring search process. She has been involved in corporate communications, public affairs disciplines and nonprofit associations.

When looking for a job in the public relations field, there are certain factors recent college graduates and current practitioners should consider.

“Read the business sections, watch CNN, do your homework before you interview,” Jarrett said. “These are people you will spend the most hours of the day with. Make sure you connect with them.”

In regards to the job market, Jarrett said, “During the creation of the dotcom world, hiring managers would find talent through online job sites.” However, changes are being made through what means companies are now hiring. “Companies are reverting back to referrals and recommendations to find new hires,” Jarrett said.

Even after job security and stabilization are achieved, challenges persist throughout a career in public relations.

“Balancing the notion of clear and consistent messaging with the fact that the media and other audiences are changing how they listen to messages almost daily” has been the biggest challenge for Jarrett.

While changes such as these create a demanding lifestyle, a career in public relations is also positive and rewarding.

“Today, public relations people are better compensated than ever before, and more and more often the public relations function reports to the CEO or president,” Jarrett said. “It seems there is a continual fight to improve talent in this area—which is a great sign for the future of the profession and will create room for new graduates in the field.”

For more information on the hiring process, click on the following link:
“What Matters Most When Space is Limited”

E-mail: Julie Jarrett

What is changing the field of public relations the most right now? What are some challenges and rewards you have personally experienced while learning about or practicing public relations?

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