The Future Of PR Agencies

Positioning For Growth After The Pandemic


By Dorothy York, President and CEO of North American Precis Syndicate (NAPS)

Managers are planning their fantasy teams in case budget could soon land on their desks, like manna from heaven, either from governmental relief funding or from increased demand, after the pandemic subsides, when business starts to rebound.  We are expecting huge growth after the vaccines work their magic. It will be an employers market, as highly talented people are available in large numbers. 

Many PR agencies have recently downsized, due to the pandemic, either by cutting staff, or by attrition, not replacing people when they retire, move or leave for some other reason.  Many have cut compensation, leaving them open to a higher turnover rate of employees due to competitive offers by other agencies. 

With fewer people, roles of remaining employees, who are doing two or three jobs, have changed, with increased or more varied responsibilities.  Some employees may be receiving more compensation for the increased responsibilities, as jobs are consolidated. 

As the economy improves, it’s likely that the roles will continue to change, in reverse, with more sub specialty categories of employment.  As the workload increases, time will become more scarce for all the responsibilities that staff members currently hold, necessitating the division of labor to accommodate the influx, as people reach capacity levels or beyond, in terms of man hours available to complete tasks.  Responsibilities will gravitate to those most qualified to meet the demands. 

For those who currently do several different tasks, they may spend the same amount of time, or more, doing just one or two of those tasks, as the workforce expands.  New roles will emerge as the business continues to grow and as the PR landscape continues to evolve. 

Historically, in the beginning, PR started out as a bunch of guys sitting in a room saying “Hey, maybe if we send a story to the New York Times, they will write about it.”  Fast forward, now PR has become a very professional game and the digital age has changed the job of relating to the public, forever.  With new technology and software available to get the word out, the list of services that agencies can provide continues to grow. 

Over time, there has been an increasing need for talented people to come up with ideas, write messaging about those, professional graphic designers for attracting attention, with oversight for goal orientation, quality control, and compliance.  Adding to the complexity is the evolving digital strategy, which requires people with skills in Google certifications, coding, web design, social media management, video/audio production and editing, IT issues, diversity and inclusion training, and so much more. 

As we have adapted to the new requirements, the list of responsibilities continues to grow.  Job descriptions have become so long that those need to be subdivided into different jobs, for people with different skill sets, with new specialties that have emerged. 

As always, we welcome new ideas and are always on the lookout for bright, talented individuals who can help us to grow in new ways.  It’s never too soon to begin searching for good people. 

Employment agreements during a period of high growth are expected to be in a variety of formats, to meet the demand with greater flexibility, resiliency and speed.  In addition to full-time permanent roles, there will be part-time, freelance and contract work for independent agents.  Contract workers are usually hired on a project basis, to fill a short term demand, and can, with a demonstration of good performance, potentially work toward being a full-time, permanent employee as the position grows. 

Virtual career fairs and networking events have become more prevalent and are a time-efficient way to find talented people who are currently searching.  Job sites and social media searches can help employers find talent who has posted employment background information, skills and preferences.  For an aggressive approach, to find the best talent, those who may currently hold good positions, a good recruiter can be essential. 

Talented people are always keeping their options open, and those with good jobs are not always searching career pages but may be found in abundance at agencies who have not offered ample opportunities for advancement or recognition of high achievements.  An easy way to win them over is by offering a good compensation package, which is expected to be more competitive and on the rise in the near future. 

I am optimistic about a bright future for PR professionals, who are the foundation of our service, and look forward to continuing to find the best and brightest people to help us to empower our clients to accomplish their objectives, with excellent results. 

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