A silver lining in uncertain times?

Everywhere I turn I seem to hear discussions about the poor economy and how unfortunate we are to graduate at a time when the economy is changing for the worse and good jobs are hard to come by. This concept is especially true while majoring in PR, in a field that many people and companies have yet to fully recognize.  I kept those slightly disturbing thoughts in the back of my mind until I came across this article in PRWeek, Down economy is PR’s time to shine by Shannon Troughton, the VP of PR at WellPoint.  Thoughton’s assertion is based on an article she read in the Economist that suggests marketing and communication budgets are the first ones to be eliminated. This can be both a postive and a negative if companies use PR correctly.

Troughton suggests that during the time of a poor economy, company image becomes significantly more important so that the company survives. Who would be better at maintaining a positive image of a company than a PR professional? They are trained skilled and are significantly cheaper than purchasing ad space on TV or in print media.  She suggests that PR professionals can “offer inexpensive but valuable ways to promote products, initiates, and executives.”  She includes blogging, press releases and editorials in her boasting of PR. That being said, a smart company is a company that will maintain a strong PR department so that the company can stay strong and survive economic hardships. Do you think that this will make companies notice how crucial PR can be for them and their image? 

Is this the big break that the PR industry has been waiting for to prove their worth? Or should we stay in school and hope the economy gets better when we all have graduate degrees and communication budgets of companies are restored?

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10 Responses to A silver lining in uncertain times?

  1. marialinda17 says:

    I agree that companies should use the state of the economy as an opportunity to strengthen their image and keep businesses afloat. Things won’t improve until people begin to spend again. It makes sense to try and remain positive to the public eye, but not all businesses find PR a priority in this economy. I worked at a small full-service PR firm over the summer and many of their clients were cutting back their PR budget because of the economy. Despite media hits and very positive results for some of their campaigns, they were utilizing PR services less and less. As a result, the firm had to cut back as well. Although this wasn’t the case for very large companies, it was disappointing nonetheless. Perhaps things are different with large corporations that have enough money to dedicate to their PR budgets.

  2. asbrooks04 says:

    I think keeping up with communications is probably the most crucial thing a company can do in today’s economy. But, getting ready to graduate in the coming weeks, I’ve been looking around at what’s out there and I don’t really see a shortage of jobs. As students, I think we sometimes forget to think about other possibilities in the job market, not just agencies. The skills PR professionals learn can be applied to many different positions in communications.

  3. cate415 says:

    While I may be biased in favor of public relations, I do think you make an excellent point that with the crumbling economy, it seems that now more than ever it is vital for companies to maintain and build a strong corporate image so that they can draw in clients, no matter what the economy may be like. While it is tradition to think of pr as important but not necessary for a corporation’s survival, it definitely seems to be the edge that makes all of the difference between the most succesful companies and the ones that crumble along with the economy.

  4. brittz87 says:

    I think that this article is great, but I do believe that the author is a bit optimistic. It is a know fact that people are cutting down on luxury items right now, due to the status of our economy.I believe companies some companies to consider PR services to be “luxury” items. I have been told that corporations tend to get rid of the PR Department first when it comes to downsizing…and this was before the economy shifted for the worse! I think it is completely absurd for a company to think of maintaining their image as something that can be discarded when times get rough. I believe it is important for companies to realize the true value in Public Relations, and hopefully they do so before I’m in the market for a job!

  5. dfishfel says:

    I think you make a great point. Right now is a perfect time for companies to be hiring PR firms to help them through this economic crisis. PR agencies must realize this and take full advantage of this unfortunate situation. As you said, it is much cheaper to hire a PR firm then it is to buy air time, so I just hope that companies that might be in crisis mode recognize the importance of a PR firm and begin hiring them, and in turn, provide more PR jobs for us graduating students! This could be a really great opportunity for us!

  6. kakeane says:

    I agree that the article was a bit optimistic about how PR professionals can use the downturn in the economy as a benefit. While I would love organizations to take this time of low sales, especially with the holiday season coming, to boost their images, and possibly delve more into community service. However, like other comments have mentioned, PR is considered a luxury. While we may look at our industry as invaluable, especially in time of economic crisis, we really need to be convincing these organizations of that.

  7. erikanp2004 says:

    I’m not sure if the poor economy is the “big break” our industry has been waiting for, but I do think that our industry is better off than other industries. I have actually been thinking about this a lot. A good reputation and image is important to reassure customers during poor economic times. Also companies are more likely to hire recent college graduates because they can pay us less.

    Although a lot of times PR is part of the communications budges therefore in that respect some jobs may be lost. Ultimately I think most of us will be able to find jobs but it might not be easy, but what is?

  8. agilliam says:

    Great post! I think this has been on the minds of all college students preparing to graduate, and our field certainly does seem to be a more expendable resource in popular thought. But, I also think that if a company is strong enough to stay afloat during these times, then they are using PR professionals and will see and may already understand their importance. The job market does appear to have the potential of shrinking and I don’t think that PR is immune to that, but I am also trying to be optimistic in thinking we will still stand our ground and keep our place.

  9. mekelly1 says:

    This is such a great topic and something I find myself discussing a lot with graduation approaching. People are always asking me if I think it will be hard to find jobs in public relations, but I think there are so many opportunities within different careers that our skills as PR students would be beneficial. I think that communications is even more important with the current state of the economy. Also, since we will be recent graduates companies can pay us less than professionals who have been in the industry for 10 years. So I’m not anticipating an huge issue finding a job in PR after graduation.

  10. cclark2 says:

    This is something I have been stressing over a lot. I think what most PR professionals struggle with is proving their importance to the bottom line to executives who do not understand communications. It is important to find an organization that values good PR and communications, one where PR is part of the decision making process of the organization.

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