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.
recession's tag archives
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.
May 8 update: A letter to the editor was sent to the New York Times to present facts that counter the article’s premise.
Writing for Sunday’s (May 3, 2009) New York Times, Eric Pfanner reports (a bit too gleefully, it seems) that the public relations industry is suffering in the current economic slowdown. As evidence, he cites financial reports showing a decline in public relations revenue at major communications holding companies WPP, Omnicom and Publicis.
The extent of the revenue drops at those companies are consistent with industry findings put forward by the respected USC Annenberg Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center (SCPRC). In January, the SCPRC surveyed nearly 200 senior level public relations and corporate communication professionals at U.S. corporations, non-profits and government agencies; it found that organizations have reduced their public relations spending 3.9 percent relative to their planned 2009 budgets, after starting the year already having pared such spending by 7.4 percent when compared with 2008 expenditure levels.
Putting the data in context, however, the SCPRC says damage to the public relations profession as a result of the recession is “relatively modest.”
Tags: Eric Pfanner, Jerry Swerling, Omnicom, PR, PRSA, public relations, Public relations spending, Publicis, recession, Social Media, The New York Times, USC Annenberg Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center, WPP
I graduated from college in the midst of a recession, in 1974, but I’m not sure I fully understood what the word meant. Now, I’ve been through several, and I get it.
I’ve probably seen all the typical recessionary behaviors. Corporately, in addition to layoffs, I’ve watched the free coffee go away, overnight shipments suddenly needing top-level approval, all but essential travel curtailed, training programs scaled way back, expense reports scrutinized even more carefully, and every penny pinched till it screamed.
What was the economy like when you graduated from college?
After reading comments to an article I wrote for the latest issue of PR Tactics about what the 1974 recession can teach us today, I realized that most college grads remember in great detail their post-graduation job search. In the article, I shared personal recollections on my 1974 graduation in the midst of a severe recession, and reflected on how little I knew then about the unique challenges of finding a job during a recession.
Everybody had a story to tell, and people shared their stories with me through calls and e-mails, telling me about their job search experiences. Everyone remembered with amazing clarity the challenges they faced. Most recalled the experience as a moment in time that ranked with other life-changing events — births, deaths and marriage.
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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.