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The PR demographic timebomb

Two years ago, I posted a note about a survey of junior PR folk, conducted in December 2006, that showed a “staggering” (PR Week’s own word) 80pc of them were planning to leave the industry within 10 years. 15pc said they would get out after only 1 or 2 years, with 32pc saying they’d exit in 2 – 5. A further 27pc said they might remain in PR for between 5 and 10 years.

At the time, PRCA director-general Patrick Barrow also conceded that the traditional PR agency model puts “disproportionate pressure on those at the bottom of the heap.”

In that same post, I quoted survey results that showed that middle management level PRs – average age 35 and 41 for consultancy and in-house staff respectively – were those most likely to quit their jobs in the next 2 to 3 years.

In the light of the kerfuffle over Dennis Howlett’s recent Nietzschean style “PR is dead” post, I was wondering if there was any more recent data on any of the above. If that first survey was correct, we should already have seen 15pc of the recruits from 2006 exiting the industry. I haven’t seen any figures to suggest any decline in the numbers of PRs employed – so either the exodus never happened or the 15pc have simply been replaced with a new crop of joiners. Clearly the disproportionate pressures on those at the bottom are set to rise in the current economic environment. Overservicing is rife and will no doubt be further exacerbated. Which suggests perhaps that more young PR folk are likely to jump the ship. And has there been an exodus of 35 – 41 year olds in the last two years?

If experience and expertise are needed to solve Dennis Howlett’s problems with PR, then we can only hope the demographic trends revealed in these surveys two years ago are going to go in reverse.