I recently ran across an article published on the PRSA blog (PRSAY) on December 19, 2011 forecasting trends in the pr industry for 2012. Given the immediate nature of internet communications, this is a relatively old post, but I thought it was interesting to read it after reaching the end of the first quarter of 2012. Twelve trends were predicted, 9 of which were predictably bland space fillers (see #1, “Business increases its voice in the digital space,” #3, “Organizations will be defined by communication,” and #4, “Wanted: Great industry leadership,”). These line items, faithfully submitted by leading industry experts, authors and CEOs, just seem a bit like old news. Why? Maybe because we already saw these things happen in 2011. Now, I know trends don’t happen overnight, or stop evolving just because the calendar changes on January 1. But these items just are not helpful when reading an article titled, “#PRin2012: 12 Trends That Will Change Public Relations.”
However, I was intrigued by a couple of interesting items included at the very end of the article that made me sit up a little straighter in the recliner from which I scour job ads every morning while eating Lucky Charms. At the bottom of the list, at number 11 and 12 respectively, you can find these two entries: “Solo PR pros make their mark,” and “Talent acquisition goes social.”
Number 11 says, “A confluence of events will make 2012 the year the industry discovers that independent public relations consultants are its secret weapon. As the economy edges toward recovery, the key to weathering the oscillating business cycles that have become the norm is the effective use of independent PR contractors. There is a growing understanding within the business community that solo PR pros are experienced and savvy professionals, who play a key role in our profession.”
Well, thank you Kelly Crane of Solo PR Pro, for stating what I have been trying to prove to myself for about a year and a half now. I have been consulting at a professional photography studio since the end of 2010 after their former marketer left the business. I like to think that my efforts have been pretty lucrative in helping keep the studio afloat while the economy has taken a huge downturn and people are less and less inclined to pay huge amounts of money for family portraits. After a while, I also took on publicity duties for a friend of mine that is a movie director/producer while also taking on additional PR duties at the library where I worked. Soon, everyone came to think of me as indispensable! However, everyone also came to think of me as willing to work for experience rather than a wage. Granted, I put myself in that situation, but it did teach me an invaluable lesson–smaller companies and independent business owners cannot necessary afford agencies to take on their PR and marketing duties, but are more than happy to work one-on-one with a solo PR pro. The trick is finding a happy middle ground on getting paid a wage that keeps you fed without breaking the client’s bank.
Number 12 says, “Will hiring for public relations positions increase in 2012? Many economic indicators offer encouragement. Beyond an increase in specific job openings, reports indicate a fundamental shift taking place in the way the job market functions. Continuing use of social media as a means to enhance one’s career prospects will pave the way for new talent-acquisition opportunities and challenges.”
WOO HOO! Ok, I was more than excited about the second sentence when I read this because it seemed to offer a glimmer of hope in what I had started to regard as a saturated job market for PR pros. But the second part of the paragraph is indicative of how networking is changing. We no longer simply rely on trading business cards at conventions or trade shows. Social media is playing an increasingly integral part in networking for jobs. Somebody knows somebody else whose company is hiring. Employers look at social media sites like Linked In for recommendations for prospective employees. Even attending webinars help job seekers increase their knowledge base while receiving tips from others attending the chat.
The moral of this story is that recent graduates and soon-to-be graduates have cause to be hopeful. PRSA posted this blog in December 2011, and so far these two insightful trends are proving more and more true every day. Do you agree? Disagree? Let’s discuss!