A number of economic indicators, along with President Obama’s op-ed in The Wall Street Journal last week, point to a recovering economy. Noting that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has passed its July 2008 high, President Obama said he’s making an all-out effort to reduce the number of regulatory hurdles for businesses, large and small, to grow and prosper; optimism on a number of economic fronts appears to be increasing. But how is this recovery translating to the public relations business?
Last year, PRSA introduced a number of new benefits intended to increase the value that we provide to our members. Enhancing member value, of course, is something we try to do all the time; but during a period of economic recession and high unemployment, these efforts took on added significance and relevancy for our members.
Now that many are predicting brighter days ahead for our industry (a StevensGouldPincus survey, for example, found 64 percent of U.S. public relations agencies expect higher revenues in 2010), it may seem logical that we would start to scale back on some of those benefits. On the contrary, we’re building on those benefits in the belief that they will continue to serve our members well in times of economic recovery.
It hardly seems as though a year has passed since I began my service as PRSA’s 2009 chair and CEO.
There’s no doubt that the past 12 months have been extremely challenging for many of us. At the same time, it’s been a period of tremendous personal fulfillment for me. As a second-generation public relations counselor who literally grew up in and around the public relations profession, my term as chair and CEO has been a unique and incredible opportunity to give back to both the profession and organization that have given me so much.
Tags: Financial, Intelligence, Learning, Network, PR, Professional Development, PRSA, public relations, public relations and communications, Public Relations Society of America, State of the Society, The Business Case for Public Relations
Membership dues are one of PRSA’s most important income generators, so a drop of any kind is not good, but we were prepared for worse. The key to addressing recessionary challenges is to cut expenses quickly and appropriately, without degrading quality. It’s a balancing act that PRSA performed well. There were plans going into the year for 4 percent or 10 percent reductions depending on trends, and we decided relatively early that it made the most sense to implement the more aggressive cost reductions. Expenses were cut by more than $1.1 million and involved some reorganization that improved efficiency and reduced the national office staff. At the same time, we focused on increasing the value of PRSA membership, delivering some important new programs, including a redesigned Web site and “The Business Case for Public Relations,” an industry advocacy campaign.
When we began our “Pulse of the Profession” project in early 2009 — PRSA Board members interviewing public relations practitioners about the impact of the recession on their careers and their thoughts on the state of our industry — we were sobered by the candid responses. Many of our colleagues had been hit hard, losing clients, suffering reduced budgets and, in some cases, struggling just to stay in business.
As one of the team leaders for this project, I recently revisited a few of the practitioners I had spoken with in January. While hoping for good news, I was careful to insist on realistic answers: We want honest replies to inform our survey findings, while recognizing that our purpose is to gather anecdotes rather than perform a scientific analysis.
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PRSAY is a forum for PRSA members and other public relations professionals to engage in a dialogue with PRSA leaders, exchange viewpoints, and share perspectives on issues of concern to the Society and the public relations industry as a whole. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of PRSA.