The Unemployed Communicator

When you read headlines about newspapers on the decline, you rarely hear the more personal story: The fact that so many editors and writers are put on the street. Many have never worked anywhere but a news room. No corporate experience and no writing experience beyond news and news features. What do they do?

There’s another set of writers and creative types feeling the pain too: professional communicators at corporations and agencies that find themselves on the street. Agency clients have cut back; Companies are trying to salvage their bottom lines. Communicators are usually the first to go.

Or are they? Well, if you believe the Public Relations Society of America’s fact sheet, you get the following “rosy” picture:

  • 60 percent of participating firms added U.S. headcount in 2010, and nearly two-thirds of Council members anticipate an increase in hiring in Q1 2011 vs. the same quarter last year.
  • Nine out of 10 firms are currently hiring, while the most sought-after talent are at the account executive to account supervisor levels.

The data may be valid, but what’s it really mean? Does it mean there was mass exodus and layoffs in 2009 at firms that participated in the survey? Why do respondents anticipate hiring increases (yes, we’re past 2011, so I wonder what really happened)?

My experience in Dallas-Fort Worth (dubbed one of the strongest local economies nationwide) doesn’t compare positively to the survey results. I know many communicators on the street, especially older men and women who have been corporate and agency communicators for 15 to 20 years. They’ve been hunting jobs for months, some more than a year. Those who have found jobs are grateful to be working, but acknowledge they are making 20 percent to 30 percent less than they did before being laid off.

For news reporters and editors, the picture seems gloomier. Most I know are hanging their own shingles as freelance writers. I’m sure it must be a strange process to go from a news reporter that can demand answers and espouse their opinions more so than they can in a corporate setting. Yeah, it could become a barn-burner in a heartbeat.

Lastly, I think of those up-and-coming men and women, those who’ve recently graduated college as journalism majors. Editor & Publisher reports that “the unemployment rate for B.A. journalism degree holders remained at 16 percent, nearly double what it was four years ago, with broadcast majors suffering the highest rate of unemployment.” What do they do? Where do they go? The good news? They are naturally more adept at social media than most of us old-timers. This gives them a competitive edge.

Regardless, young or old, corporate or agency, underemployed or unemployed, this communicator is thinking of you, wishing you the best and hoping that the future is bright, vigorous and fruitful. That’s your future. Our future. The future of America.

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Filed under Dallas PR agencies, journalism, marketing communications, PR

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