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Steven R. Van Hook
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Whither (or Whether) Goes PR
How will Public Relations weather the economic storm?
 Related Resources
 Your Future in PR
 PR: Who Needs It?
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Ryan D. May of the Public Relations Society
of America Minnesota chapter submitted some thoughtful
questions regarding the shape and future of public relations.

RDM: Has the uncertainty of the economy 
affected PR? If so how? If not why?

      Steven R. Van Hook
About Public Relations

About PR: It's in times of uncertainty and ambiguity that good PR becomes ever more critical, doesn't it? CEO's have seen the studies that show outreach cuts (e.g., PR, marketing, ads) can cost much more than they save. The large PR shops seem to be about as busy as ever, there doesn't appear to be a catastrophic drop in PR job openings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth in public relations should exceed the average for all other jobs combined through the early years of the new century. Sure, the online sector has taken a hit. But considering the statistical take along with the practical realities, it's looking like PR overall will weather the current storm well.

RDM: Has the job market changed as much as the media is saying it has?

The tools of the job market have certainly changed over the last decade or so. Those who cannot adapt to the new tools will have a hard time in the PR business. But the craftsmanship behind the tools remains the same: the ability to analyze, strategize, and craft a message.  As our society becomes ever more complicated, the need for PR professionals to help build clarifying bridges between stakeholders and the public will grow even stronger.
RDM: How can a PR professional find a better job today?

In a word: specialize. Health, technology, finance, international affairs are all hot PR specialties. Entertainment, education, natural resources also look interesting. Become an expert on your subject matter. Have a passion for it. Keep your communication skills sharp and stay on top of the latest technologies. Join a professional organization and network. Do all that, and the better jobs will find you.
RDM: How important is membership in professional organizations like IABC or PRSA when applying for a job?

Such memberships show you're serious about your profession. In any field and especially public relations, networked connections are indispensable. Connected networking is the very foundation of PR; a network which is expanded exponentially when we connect with other well-connected people. Many professional organizations offer discounted rates for recent college grads and those just starting out. By all means, take advantage of the networking opportunities, the job leads, and the professional development tools these organizations have to offer.

RDM: What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses you see in recent college graduates or people entering the PR industry for the first time?

Probably the same strengths and weaknesses that have been with college graduates and PR neophytes for all time. They bring fresh ideas and energy to their professions. Now they have to learn how to translate those assets into consistent results. Quite often the theory and the reality of a profession don't mesh well. It's the starters who can keep their enthusiasm in the middle of the daily grind who will thrive.

- Steven R. Van Hook

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