Perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel

(and what PR can do to help)

Bloomberg reports that the number of job openings in the U.S.  rose by 225,000 in September, the most in a month for the last three years. That may not seem like a lot, and the experts still worry about the slow rate of recovery, but jobs are jobs, after all.

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Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal recently released a table showing unemployment rates for the top college majors. So where did Communications come in?  It fared (relatively) alright, with a 6.3% unemployment rate, lower than the 9.1% national rate. Some projections show that public relations as a profession will grow 24% by 2018. That’s quite optimistic, and if it is true, then those pursuing a career in PR might feel fairly secure, as long as they have the right stuff to land a good position.

Despite the apparent stability of the communications profession, we have a long way to go until this country’s entire economy is back on track and Americans feel confident in their ability to stay in work or find work if they need to. We all have to do our part. In the spirit of the coming holiday season, here are a few ways PR can help:

Advocate Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): CSR is increasingly a mainstay of reputation management and communications strategy. By promoting a company’s responsibility to all its stakeholders, PR can help corporate decision makers create better communities where they do business. This includes ethical hiring practices, a commitment to local economies, advocacy of good causes and partnerships with community organizations.

Smart pro bono work: When time and funds allow, PR agencies should give back by donating some of their time to good causes. However, it isn’t just about “un-billable” hours… just as important is who you are doing the work for. Seek out organizations that help build community and confidence among those who need it most. In particular, programs that help the disadvantaged become educated and job-ready should be top tier. Get these organizations some much-deserved press and clout, and they might just create a job or two (or three, or a dozen, or a hundred…)

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Spread the good word: Blogging, social media and word-of-mouth are all good ways to spread best practices, announce job openings and promote ethical business. PR pros are already engaged in these platforms, so it doesn’t hurt to spend a little time on good causes. The social universe is generally a great way to build bridges and be part of a larger network within the industry and the world. If those channels can be used for messages that are positive and growth oriented, even better. Every little bit helps, so give the occasional shout-out via Twitter to your favorite nonprofits, social causes and your company’s own community partnerships.

Obviously, us PR folks aren’t going to turn the economy around or create enough jobs to satisfy the enormous demand out there. But we can be part of the solution instead of the problem. And this doesn’t have to cut into business as usual. Think of it as complementary to your business goals. Your own reputation is just as important as that of your clients. But also, don’t just do it because it looks good – do it because it is the right thing to do.

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