Issues Facing the Profession

Last week, the Counselors Academy, a PRSA Professional Interest Section, released survey results discussing the top three issues facing the profession. Check out the PRSA release describing the survey and how it was conducted. Also, for reference, the full results of the survey can be found here.

According to the survey, the top three issues facing the profession are “providing authentic strategic counsel,” “demonstrating return on investment” and “mastering social media.” While some of us may just be entering the profession and others still in college, these are the issues we will tackle as public relations practitioners. Here’s what those issues mean:

  • Authenticity: In the age of transparent communications, people don’t just want to know what happened — they want to know why. Public relations practitioners advocate open and honest communication and we must continue to counsel our clients to do the same.
  • ROI (return on investment): Has anyone ever asked you why a press release should be sent? Or why a company should converse with customers on Twitter? The public relations profession needs to continue to demonstrate the value of what we do, especially in times when budgets are being slashed across the board.
  • Mastering social media: Understanding new trends on the digital landscape is key to offering smart counsel to clients. Even more important is being able to offer strategic and experience counsel that is measurable and goal-oriented. Mastering social media will not be easy, but it is something young practitioners can continue to learn.

In addition, there were several other stats that are important to PRSSA members. More 60 percent of respondents believe that millennials (that’s us) moving into positions of power is either somewhat important or very important. Furthermore, more than 44 percent think recruiting and retaining talent is very important.

As you can see, many issues face the profession. As students and new professionals, it is our responsibility to respond to these issues as a Society and a profession.

How can we tackle these issues? Can PRSSA play a role? I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can improve the profession.

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4 Responses to Issues Facing the Profession

  1. Shane Arman July 7, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    I think these three issues are dead on. Authenticity seems to be the biggest issue. I think people constantly question the honesty and values of public relations professionals so it’s very important for Gen Y to not hide things and continue to build trusting relationships.

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    nicklucido Reply:

    I agree that authenticity is important, and I think it’s becoming more and more important with social media. Because that’s changing, having a solid understanding of ethics is key to being authentic in this realm. Thanks for adding your thoughts!

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  2. Monica Fineis July 7, 2009 at 11:40 am #

    Great discussion, Nick.

    I think that PRSSA chapter can absolutely take a role in tackling these issues. None of these issues are all that new or surprising. Here are a few examples of what PRSSA chapters can do.

    1) Reinforcing ethics.
    Ethics in PR can be tricky, especially to newcomers. And of course, some of it is subjective. Executive board members should emphasize the importance of universal ethical standards. For example, transparency (revealing who you work for, ALWAYS) and understanding that even though you may have an opinion separate of the work you do professionally, you must honest and up front about it, and also realize that everything you do on the internet will reflect on your professionally.
    It is also important to teach to not be afraid to speak up if asked to do something they believe is unethical. (Unethical IS NOT, necessarily, advocating for a cause that you don’t support personally…although you may want to ask to work on a different project if you feel strongly. Unethical IS being asked to post negative reviews on a product under the guise of a consumer. Even if you happen to be a consumer of the product–if you work for a competing product and you don’t disclose that–it is unethical.)

    2) Taking Advantage of free tools.
    The market is cluttered with products and software that try to compute ROI of social media and other PR efforts. Part of it is knowing what’s out there, and for me personally, how to take advantage of the free tools.
    -Google Analytics is one awesome tool to see how users interact with a Web site.
    -Social Mention is a search engine that surveys twitter, blogs, forums and comments for your topic. It also categorizes results into positive, neutral and negative posts.
    -HootSuite, which mainly serves the purpose of managing and updating multiple twitter accounts, also tracks any links you post on twitter and tells you how many people have clicked on them.
    You can also run mini-experiments. For example, if I wanted to promote a client’s video on YouTube, I would track the number of views before and after executing promotional strategies. Of course, the experiment is not flawless, but it helps quantify our efforts.

    3) Leading by example.
    Finally, Executive Board members should all be using and knowledgeable of the latest social media tools. No excuses!

    [Reply]

    nicklucido Reply:

    Monica, thanks for adding so much to this discussion. It’s important to have and as a new professional, your perspective is particularly valuable. I think taking what you talk about hear to Chapters is key, but also taking this to internships and entry level jobs — it’s a great way to demonstrate your value and expertise. Thanks again!

    [Reply]

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