At a recent Young Women in Digital event in Boston, I met many professionals who are just launching their communications careers. As I looked around the room, I felt so excited for them to be entering this field at this particular moment. I would encourage any young person to consider pursuing a career in public relations. Now that the digital age has made everyone a communicator, there is a great need for those who can skillfully manage and penetrate the noise.
Everyone is Doing PR
It is a blessing and a curse that users now create much of the content for you. Many online communities exist to express opinions on everything from the best cleaning products to the best vacation spots. A recent survey by Dimensional Research found that 90% of customers’ buying decisions are influenced by online reviews and of course that is only one of many ways the audience is doing the marketing. It is the PR professionals who know how to listen to the public and organizations need them to manage the unceasing digital media. User-generated content is a new channel that doesn’t require a big budget, but managed well it can provide some of the most effective communications.
Potential for Growth
Part of making a case for a raise or promotion is being able to quantify your success. Especially in the social media sphere, progress can be measured relatively simply. How many followers did you gain? How many direct clicks from the blog to the shopping cart? How many views? How many likes? There is an easy way to showcase your work. A communications professional can market him/herself with this portfolio and climb the ranks accordingly or use it to expand their personal platform. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists more opportunities for communications graduates than any other major and they predict marketing jobs to increase 14% from 2010 to 2020.
Although it is near impossible to predict the next big thing, the keys belong to those who will master it quickly and use it effectively. Marketing expert, Seth Godin, notes that now “All media is voluntary.” A PR professional must be able to cut through the clamor and somehow manage it; be a master not just of words, but of images, experiences and communities. In an interview with Forbes, CEO of Horn Group Public Relations, Sabrina Horn, highlights the opportunity in this challenge: “The magic of digital communications – the combination of great storytelling through multiple channels that are conceived, created, and executed together – empowers CMOs to take on even the largest business challenges in an organized, strategic way, and that’s what makes this an incredibly exciting time to be a communicator.”
In a recent blog by Godin, he distinguishes between our collecting dots and connecting them. Today’s PR professionals don’t simply gather people and data, but they are able to connect them to their message and movement. It is a necessary skill for our current moment and one that only expert communicators can bring.
Chaloner, founded in 1979 as Chaloner Associates, is a national executive search firm that focuses on recruiting mid- to senior-level communications, public relations, marketing and investor relations professionals.