Magazine article Communication World

Survey Reveals Insights into Attitudes and Perceptions of Public Relations Practitioners

Magazine article Communication World

Survey Reveals Insights into Attitudes and Perceptions of Public Relations Practitioners

Article excerpt

Communication and public relations practitioners enjoy a high degree of job satisfaction, feel positive about their careers and would likely choose the same field if they had to do it all over again, yet also find their work very stressful, admit concerns over keeping their jobs and question whether business people-including their clients-really understand the importance of what they do.

This is according to the results of a recent survey developed by Heyman Associates, an executive search firm specializing in the corporate communication/public relations industry, and Marketing Strategy & Planning, a marketing research firm, to provide greater insight into the attitudes of PR professionals working in corporations, public relations/ ad agencies, government, and non-profit and health care organizations.

The questionnaire was mailed to a sample Of 1,150 men and women around the US, with 591 (or about 51 percent) responding. The sample was chosen to ensure adequate representation of high-income earners, to provide an intimate profile of executives occupying the very pinnacle of the profession.

Among those who responded, 53 percent work in corporate communication departments and 32 percent in public relations firms. There was a 60-40 split between men and women and the mean age of the respondents was 40, with the greatest percentage having I I to 20 years experience in the business. The salary range was from under US $30,000 to over $250,000. Job Perceptions Seventy-seven percent strongly agree with the statement "I enjoy my work," (including 82 percent of those in corporate life and an equal percentage of men). A similar percentage report that their jobs are important to their companies' overall efforts and 62 percent feel positive about a career in public relations.

More than 54 percent say they would definitely/probably choose public relations if they were starting over, with the highest percentage among those under 35 years old (62 percent) and those earning over US $150,000 (64 percent). And, unlike those boys and girls who someday wanted to grow up to become doctors or teachers, few admit to having had any long-standing plans to become PR practitioners with only 22 percent saying they had decided on their career before college. This proportion was significantly higher among younger people (34 percent).

Slightly under 60 percent consider their jobs to be very stressful, including 66 percent of those working in agencies (compared to 53 percent in corporations) and 69 percent of those earning the highest salaries.

Nearly 31 percent consider moving from company to company an important basis for career and salary advancement, with 35 percent of corporate and 24 percent of agency people agreeing. Those making the most money see it as less of a concern than those earning less. Men and women between the ages of 35 and 44, interestingly enough, consider this to be more important than those both younger or older.

About one in five respondents acknowledge a concern over loss of job or being derailed from the "fast track." Typically, job fears surface most frequently among those in the 35 to 44 age category earning between US $75,000 and $150,000.

The field itself would seem to be in need of public relations, with only 2 percent agreeing with the statement "people in business generally understand the importance of public relations" (and 41 percent disagreeing). Similarly, only 7 percent consider their own clients to be "PR savvy."

Respondents perceive that women have a far better chance of advancement via the agency route than in corporate life. …

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