Are you a PR with an exit strategy?

How did you spend your commute to work this morning? Were you happily thinking about the day ahead or frantically browsing job sites on your phone?

Marketing Week magazine recently reported on the findings of their annual salary review. While the breakdown of which positions and sectors earn the most took the headlines, I was surprised by the staggeringly high percentage of marketers who expected to leave their current job within three years. Despite only 25% of the respondents classifying themselves as unhappy in their role, 81% said that they expected to leave their current job within three years.

If 75% of marketers are happy or satisfied with their employers, what is causing them to jump ship? The answers were predictable; more opportunities, money and the promise of promotion. The grass often appears greener elsewhere and the well-trodden path to higher salaries and responsibility typically involves handing in your notice and moving on.

This got me thinking about in-house PR, where I ply my trade. Are PRs as mercenary as general marketers when it comes to cutting and running to develop their careers? If so, how can businesses ensure that they provide the right opportunities to keep their PRs happy and productive?

In-house PRs are often specialist within their sector, they ‘get’ their business and are often among a company’s biggest advocates. All of this take time to nurture and develop and, once a PR is up to speed, these attributes are worth a great deal more to an organisation than the salary they draw. So how do you keep PRs committed to your organisation? For me, the answer is simple, yet not always easy to deliver.

A happy PR, especially one working in-house, is one who feels respected, valued and consulted as an expert practitioner in their field. Speaking from personal experience, it is surprising how this recognition can motivate an employee more than money and keep them loyal to their employer.

That said, this doesn’t happen overnight and needs to be earned by the PRs, often over many years within an organisation. PR is a complex science and is not, despite popular opinion, easy to deliver. If PRs want to gain the recognition they desire, they need to be able to demonstrate the value they can add by delivering consistently high-quality work.

The annual CIPR State of the Profession survey will be published later this month. Now in its seventh year, it’s the largest and longest-running survey of its kind. Taking into account the views of CIPR members and non-members, the survey aims to reveal the issues and challenges facing public relations professionals. It will be interesting to see if PRs share the same negative outlook on their jobs as their marketing colleagues and how they feel their profession has developed over the past 12 months. For me, the outlook is a positive one. PR is continuing to be seen as an asset to businesses and, thanks to the efforts of both the CIPR and PRCA, PR is now becoming a more recognised profession in its own right, which can only be seen as a positive step for everyone working in the industry.

My advice is to focus instead on your career goals rather than being distracted by worrying about your exit plan. You might be surprised to learn that if you talk to your current employer and share your career vision, there is a strong chance they’ll support you and remove the barriers stopping you from developing, and that is a win for everyone. After all, you’re worth so much more to them as a committed advocate than a disengaged employee walking towards the exit.

– Adam. T

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