PUBLIC RELATIONS ISSUES (PROFESSIONAL): PROFESSIONALS IN THE UNITED STATES: The public relations industry is booming, according to a new report from Public Relations Consultants of America.
The agency, which advises companies on how to attract and retain talented public relations professionals, says that its membership has increased by about 300% since 1999.
But the agency warns that it’s still a work in progress.
In fact, it has yet to develop a single career path that would enable a career in PR without first mastering the craft of PR, said Robert McAfee, the president and chief executive of the agency.
And, he adds, a career as a public affairs executive may not be for everyone.
“The skillset required to succeed as a PR executive is not universally available,” McAfee said.
“There are skills that are not in the public relations education curricula that we have now.
There are skills we don’t teach in school.
We don’t have the right curriculum to teach those skills to the public.”
In fact and according to the report, there are only about two-thirds of the publics who would consider taking a PR internship in their lifetime.
That’s especially true in smaller cities, which are still struggling to attract qualified public relations graduates.
But some states have embraced PR as an effective way to get work.
In Georgia, which recently launched a PR program, the public is seeing it as a way to keep public relations out of the hands of corporations and politicians.
And in Louisiana, which has become known for its public relations successes, the state is hiring PR consultants to work on its marketing and sales efforts.
In some states, public relations courses have been given in school, but not in public.
In Louisiana, the Public Relations Institute has taught classes on PR and marketing since 2003, but the department does not offer a course on PR, which the state says is needed for new graduates.
And it does not provide any public relations training for anyone with less than a high school diploma, said Michael Sowry, the program director at the Public Affairs Institute.
“Our training is not the same as a professional degree,” he said.
Sowary said he hopes the public will be willing to embrace the PR degree, but it would require a lot of effort.
“We have to make it as accessible as possible,” he added.
But many employers say that they are willing to consider it if it’s a career-defining opportunity.
A company with a PR director, for example, could have its PR director work with an outside agency, such as an advertising agency, in order to get an initial understanding of what it takes to build an effective PR campaign, said Mark Sperling, a senior marketing director at a New York-based advertising agency.
“I don’t think you can get away from PR as a career, unless you want to get a job in the advertising world,” Spering said.
And he said he’s also skeptical about the idea of getting a job as a press secretary.
“Public relations is such a low-paying, low-skill, low‑status position,” S perling said.
For many public relations students, the idea may be too appealing, said Peter Kroszkiewicz, a public policy professor at American University.
“But I think it would be very hard to get to a position that would allow you to be an effective public relations professional in the field, because of the limited resources that exist,” he told MTV News.
“You need to have a degree, and you need to be able to go to conferences and work with high-level people, to be on the phone with high‑level people.”
The Public Relations Management Association, an industry group, says it has heard from companies that are considering hiring PR professionals to fill PR roles.
But its membership is small, and the association says that hiring PR interns is the least common of the career paths it offers.
“It would be difficult to recruit public relations interns, given the shortage of high-quality and well-qualified public relations candidates,” said John Bostock, a professor at the school of management and public affairs at the University of Southern California.
“So I think that’s a real problem.”