Academic journal article Public Relations Journal

Forecast 1993

Academic journal article Public Relations Journal

Forecast 1993

Article excerpt

Practitioners Enter New Era with Uncertainty and Hope

The Clinton administration will be the major factor affecting U.S. business and society. To be successful, practitioners and their organizations must anticipate change and be prepared to act strategically.

It's no secret that the biggest issue facing public relations practitioners this year is the Clinton administration, its actions, and its effects on the economy. While it's clear President Clinton takes office with a mandate for change, the public is uncertain about exactly what to expect. The new administration's actions will set the scene in which practitioners will operate, and provide challenges for the profession.

"Agency counselors will benefit but bloodletting along K Street is inevitable, as partisan influence waxes and wanes among counseling firms," said Milt Capps, APR, Corporate Section chair, one of 15 PRSA Professional Interest Section heads participating in this annual forecast. In terms of corporate public affairs priorities, there will be "18 to 24 months of uncertainty," he said. Public affairs and government is another specialty that will be greatly affected. Not only are new elected officials in charge, but they take office with many different values and attitudes than their predecessors. This is the group that will set national policy priorities and with whom public affairs and government practitioners will communicate.

Other predictions on the impact the Clinton presidency might have on public relations vary, with Section heads voicing some uncertainties about the new administration's priorities. If the Clinton administration follows up on its campaign promises, an era of environmental sensitivity is expected. In addition, proposals for health care system reform are expected. Business-focused associations may have some difficulties in dealing with federal officials and legislators. Therefore, association practitioners may rely more on grass-roots communicating.

The Clinton administration is expected to have a greater appreciation for non-profits and educational institutions. However, given the range of social programs expected, "it is unlikely that higher education will receive a bigger share of the federal budgetary pie," said Judy VanSlyke Turk, Ph.D., Fellow, PRSA, Educators Section chair. Technology practitioners wonder how much emphasis will be placed on the U.S. technology infrastructure. And it's "too soon to tell if there will be a reversal in the trend to transfer the burden of social programs from government to the private sector," said Richard T. McCartney, APR, Social Services chair.

The success of the Clinton administration's initiatives may also depend on public relations. "If the administration is to succeed, it must not only lead through solid strategic action in the program area, but deliver this message of human values and achievement," said Frances P. Driscoll, APR, 1992 PRSA Board director at large and Board liaison to the 1992 Section Council. "It is public relations' responsibility to shape the program strategically, and to manage the issues at hand so that the resulting implementation is clearly and directly received." Driscoll is vice president public relations & development, Roger Williams Medical Center, Providence, RI, and is serving as a 1993 director at large.

Like the American public, Section heads have mixed opinions about whether the recession is over. About half say the recession isn't over. While some think it is probably over, the effects are likely to continue. "Many lost jobs, especially in the service sectors and white collar area, are gone permanently," said Richard L. Anderson, Financial Communications chair. "This means a structural change in the workforce with lasting impact on the future."

The Section heads also differ on their views of the 1993 job outlook for their specialties. The outlook is good for counselors, and those in the environment, financial services, professional services and technology specialties. …

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