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Economy slows, PR grows

April 4, 2009

It’s been a trying week for General Motors employees who once relied on their stable GM jobs to support their families.

Let me rephrase that.  It’s been a trying few months.

GM Lordstown Plant

I grew up approximately 25 minutes away from the GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio, and a large percentage of my high school classmates had one or more parents working at the plant.  So when GM began announcing layoffs and shift cuts over the past few months, my heart broke for those families facing uncertain futures.  The situation became stickier this week as President Obama announced plans to restructure GM and Chrysler, leading to the resignation of Richard Wagoner, GM chairman and chief executive.

I always imagined I’d move home after college and pursue a career in corporate public relations, but as the major corporations in the Mahoning Valley face uncertain economic futures, my dreams are facing an adaptation process.

However, hope is never lost!  I picked a recession-proof career when I chose to major in public relations.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects PR jobs to grow 18 percent between 2006-2016, which is faster than the national average.  Here’s some reasons why PR won’t fade away in a lagging economy:

The Growth of Social Media

Coca-ColaPublic relations professionals have recognized the importance of social media communications for quite some time, but upper management and the general public are finally catching on.  Coca-Cola announced the launch of its office of digital and social media this week in hopes of connecting individuals to the company and its brands.  Large corporations are starting to recognize the importance of social media to reach their audiences in an effective manner.  Kudos to Coca-Cola for taking this initiative; I hope other corporations will follow.

Birmingham City University announced it will offer a master’s degree to teach students how to use Facebook, Twitter and Bebo.  Many critics say the degree is a waste of university resources, as many social media tools can be self-taught.  However, I respect the university’s efforts to train students to grasp social media’s potential.

Crisis Communications

Unfortunately, someone has to be the bearer of bad news.  As America’s economy navigates through a recession, it seems as though the pool of bad news has been much deeper than the pool of good news.  Executives need the expertise of public relations practitioners to guide communications through the tough times of layoffs, job cuts, administrative changes  and bankruptcies.

On the brighter side: Businesses will also need PR to announce the good news when the economy strengthens.

A Global Marketplace

Global communications has been a hot topic among several guest speakers at recent PRSSA Kent meetings.  We live in a global marketplace, and many companies are expanding their global efforts to remain viable in a shaky American economy.  These companies need solid global communications to adapt to each culture and society they reach.  PR practitioners willing to travel regularly and/or move overseas will see many career opportunities in their futures.

What other factors do you think will contribute to the growth of public relations in the present and future?  Which changes and paths are you willing to take to ensure a lasting career in PR?

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One comment

  1. Great topic, Rebecca.
    Everyone everywhere is having a harder time making ends meet these days, but it’s comforting to know that the outlook for our PRofession (haha) is looking up! And who knows, maybe thanks to the growing global market, we’ll end up in a place much warmer than the ol’ Valley :)



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