Is social media pushing up PR headcounts?

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Check out these figures and see if you agree with Bruce Hetrick, a long-time local public relations pro, that they shed another angle on the social media phenomena.

The federal government shows the number of people in the Indianapolis area pigeon-holing themselves in a category called “public relations managers” shot up just as the recession was building—coincidentally the same period when social media exploded.

In 2007, prior to the onset of the recession, 490 people in the Indianapolis area called themselves public relations managers. In 2008, when the recession was well underway, the figure shot to 600. A year later, probably because of recession-related layoffs, there were 550.

It’s a broad classification. It includes workers ranging from corporate inhouse communications experts to one-person shops. Many are in small businesses.

Hetrick thinks lots more people have gotten involved in social media for their work, thus self-identify with public relations. More will enter the field as the economy continues its improvement, he predicts.

When Hetrick speaks to communication majors at state universities, few aspire to work for news organizations. The days of wanting to the Woodward and Bernstein are long gone. Now, public relations student groups have dozens of members.

Demand will continue rising for people who can create communications and get the messages out through traditional means as well as social media, Hetrick says.

Incidentally, the recession didn’t dent the wages of those who survived the recession. The average was $73,130 in 2007 and built to $75,940 in 2008. By 2009 it had climbed to $76,770.


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