Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess


“I Know What Boys Like”…And Apparently It’s Not PR!
August 5, 2008, 8:00 am
Filed under: Article Reviews, Networking/Social Media, Public Relations, Recruiting

Ahh just like The Waitresses…or Christina Aguilera’s tasteless re-make, I know what boys like…well, not me personally. You guys continue to be a mystery to me. But apparently, there are some folks in the PR world who have determined that PR is NOT what boys like!

My co-worker pointed this article out to me yesterday, one which states that there is a serious shortage of men in the PR industry. David Mullen wrote a response to an article found in PR Week:

“…I recently visited a senior PR campaigns class as a judge for student campaign presentations. In a class of probably 35 students, there were two men. In April, I headed back to my alma mater to interview PR students for internship positions at my agency. I met with a LOT of students that day, 95 percent of whom were PR majors. Of that 95 percent, I met one man.”

Mullen wonders why the topic of gender diversity in Public Relations isn’t discussed. In the article that spurred his response, Tom Martin writes, “We need to reach out in creative, new ways…” which sounds not-surprisingly similar to a battle cry coming from the recruitment, and specifically the sourcing, communities. The only difference being that this outreach in PR needs to be directed at the “bright young men on our college campuses” to “remind them of the many attributes a career in the communications field offers”.

David Ambrose takes this one step further in his response/follow up post on the topic by saying that this need for outreach in new and creative ways needs to be coupled with a serious assessment of pay:

“Pay is lackluster within the industry standard, especially considering those who bring a certain expertise and knowledge in one subject area, when compared to classmates in other industries.”

Ambrose thinks that stagnation has caused a neglect in the development of young leaders, saying that “this industry’s thought leaders of tomorrow (I would even argue, today) are under our noses but…many professionals play the game of bureaucratic diplomacy, erring always on the side of caution.” He continues on to say, “The time is ripe for agencies to take risks, investing in young, smart and eager social capital to help drive innovation (and if they are lucky, strategy) for years to come.”

Do we need to focus more on gender diversity in public relations? Or is there another underlying issue that must be addressed first? Please feel free to share your thoughts!

Advertisements

11 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Amybeth – thanks for sharing this topic and my blog post with your readers. Of course, I think we need to address the gender diversity issue, but that may be because I’m biased. I’m a man, after all. 🙂

I get the pay thing. For guys who choose their major based on entry-level pay (and I know that a lot do), then a higher e-l salary would be beneficial. But let’s be honest. We don’t make pennies in this business. I think we need to help shift people away from entry-level pay and share mid-level and senior-level pay.

If you look at PR salaries 5-7 years in to a career, you can start to see them level off with pay at the same level in other industries. You may have to change jobs once or twice during that 5-7 years, but if you work hard and are smart, you can do just fine in this business.

In college, I always heard the “you won’t make squat” talk about PR. Good thing I wanted to do something I felt like I’d love, or I may have switched majors. If I knew then that Agency VPs make between $100k-$150k, I would have been able to share that fact with the naysayers.

When I speak to college classes, the “what can I expect to make right out of school” question ALWAYS comes up. And I answer it honestly while they all get a “crap, it’s true” look in their eyes. But I also add the mid-level and senior-level pay ranges. You should see their eyes light back up. I tell them they can do what they love and still be compensated well for it. You’ve just got to put in a bit more time.

Comment by davidmullen

We enjoy writing copy. Its quick, effective, and simple. PR contains to much blah blah blah. The sad thing is every company out there pays top dollar for more PR!

Comment by Alex

@Amy, thanks for sharing my post.

@David, I want to address some points:

“I get the pay thing. For guys who choose their major based on entry-level pay (and I know that a lot do), then a higher e-l salary would be beneficial. But let’s be honest. We don’t make pennies in this business. I think we need to help shift people away from entry-level pay and share mid-level and senior-level pay.”

Before the college student hits the mid- and senior-level pay, they enter the bottom rung of the pay scale. I would argue that, yes, we do make pennies (sure, relative) and therefore the industry does not readily attract the smartest social capital from the top tier schools. Keep in mind that I’m only speaking from my experience, attending a school that heavily recruits for the financial industry. This is a flaw in the agency structure, set to the traditional marketing communications model that worked pre-interactive shop and favored seasoned executives.

“If you look at PR salaries 5-7 years in to a career, you can start to see them level off with pay at the same level in other industries. You may have to change jobs once or twice during that 5-7 years, but if you work hard and are smart, you can do just fine in this business.”

Does Generation Y have the patience to wait this long? My guess is no, especially considering the type of person associated with the stereotype: eager, thought provoking, willing to make change, etc. I just finished a conversation with a vendor this morning about this very subject: Generation Y has no hesitation in jumping from place to place for a pay increase, whether it means a mediocre increase. Take into account that agencies are dealing with a “tsunami” of digerati who understand the tools and not necessarily the strategy/business side of the industry, you have, what the vendor called this morning, “a perfect storm for inevitable organizational change”.

I’m not necessarily saying that it’s a “take it all, or leave it” type situation, but I think the industry is starting to realize this change. It’s our responsibility to help usher it in.

Looking forward to your responses.

Comment by Dave Ambrose

Davemullen pegged it perfectly for the agency side of the business, but there are many client with internal PR positions and the pay there generally ranges from abysmal to hand-to-mouth. My guess is there are even more PR people on the client side than on the agency side (granted, some are listed as PR but really man the front desk taking incoming phone calls, but we are talking about PR professionals who strategize and write for a living). The only job ranking worse is “marcom”–I know, that’s where I worked for years.

One of my managers, a woman (back in the day when I was actually asked in the interviews, “Can you work for a female boss?”), called this the “pink collar ghetto” and moved to the agency side a couple of years later. Moving to “marketing” was the solution for me, especially as both marcom and PR kept being devalued within corporations.

Great, thought provoking entry.

Comment by Mike

Guys, all great points. I especially agree with the impatience of some Y’ers…I’m a cusp’er (sometimes GenX, sometimes GenY depending on who you talk to) and when I got my first “real job” out of college, I made only about $24k annually. And – I made that amount for a good 4 years before seeing much of an increase. In that time period I learned my craft and got better at it, and as I improved in my skills and showed I was willing to work and be patient, I was rewarded in the long run.

The impatience I see today in a lot of recent graduates I think is directly related to the amount of money it cost them just to simply earn a college receipt. I’ve heard staggering amounts of over $150k for a 4-year degree. No wonder graduates want to make more than $30k to start – they’ve got a long road ahead of them to pay off those loans! But this doesn’t excuse them from paying their dues and earning experience and wisdom…

While there should be a re-assessment of entry-level salaries, I don’t think it should be the responsibility of the companies to pay for those ridiculous educational costs. I think a lot of the responsibility should lay with the colleges and universities for charging such an obscene amount of money for something that isn’t even guaranteed to get you a job. How many college graduates out there have had to take jobs waiting tables or working the check-out line after graduating? I did for a full 1 1/2 years after I graduated because I couldn’t find anything that paid more than what I was earning in tips.

I am liking all the discussion surrounding these intertwined topics 🙂 Please keep it up!

Comment by Amybeth

@amybeth I see where you are coming from, to a certain degree, on this point: “But this doesn’t excuse them from paying their dues and earning experience and wisdom…”

What about those that don’t necessarily practice “Public Relations” in their job yet fall into the industry bucket? What happens if they are on the bleeding edge of something that doesn’t require any learned skills and “corporate stripes,” rather just innate knowledge and ability? Should that person be subjected to a general pay scheme? I don’t necessarily think that’s fair for the employee and also the company. Both are getting the short end of the stick.

Comment by Dave Ambrose

All great insights! I’m loving this conversation and wishing today wasn’t so crazy so I could have responded sooner.

Dave – I should have clarified what I meant by “i get the pay thing.” I was agreeing that we should re-assess entry-level pay to be more competitive and attract more talent.

My point was that, in the meantime, we can talk about the pay opportunities a short walk down the road.

amybeth – i agree that we shouldn’t just start tossing money at kids (not that you were suggesting that dave) and that it doesn’t excuse them from paying dues.

In my experience, our craft feels very much like an apprenticeship business. Every year, our interns tell me that they learn more in two months at our agency than they have in 3 or 4 years in the classroom. Innate abilities are important, of course, but a lot of what makes someone great at marketing also comes with experience.

Dave, I think your observation about digirati who understand the tools but have no grasp of strategy is a perfect example of this. In our business, you get paid for experience. I may be an avid social media junkie, but if I’ve never developed strategy for and executed a social media campaign, you’re probably going to move on to hire an agency that has done that.

So I think we should re-assess entry-level pay to be more competitive, but we should be careful and purposeful in how that’s done. And communicate that this is a profession that rewards you financially as you prove yourself. The more you prove yourself, the more you’re rewarded. Work hard, learn much and reap the benefits.

Comment by davidmullen

Yo Amybeth,

My wife told me ta tell ya; “Boys are like parking spaces, the good ones are already taken, and the free one’s are handicapped.”

See ya round campus.

VirtualSourcer
+++

Comment by Ray Towle

As with any shortage in candidates, it comes down to where you look to fill a need or gap. In regards to a shortage of male candidates in the PR world, I would have to say that maybe on a general college campus grouping this may be correct, but in our world of working with collegiate and professional athletes, many of our male athletes are searching for PR opportunities as well as media, advertising and promotions. With backgrounds in sports, our candidates are looking to make an impact for companies immediately and most understand that they have to start at the bottom and work their way up.

Just as when they stepped on a campus for the fist time, they didn’t start on the team and they had to take the time to learn a new system and prove through performance their ability to fill the role or position through competition with others.

I would recommend that if there is anyone recruiting on college campuses and trying to find the ‘men for PR’, look no further than the Athletic Department and check out http://www.thecorporateplaybook.com to see more about how we work with these athletes to find top jobs!

See ya round….’From the Locker Room, to The Board Room!’

Comment by The Corporate Playbook

Amybeth – There are a couple of things going on here that I think can be addressed. One is to make sure academics are positioning our industry to its fullest potential.

The Bad Pitch Blog helps teach students about media relations…hard-earned in the trenches stuff they cannot learn in school. So my point is that there is a lot of stuff going on in the job that adcademics may not be able to speak to or be aware of…things that PR candidates would find attractive. Sure social media is a facet of this, but there’s left-brain and right-brain opps in our industry online and offline.

So schools are one target here.

As far as money…pay is always a consideration. But if salary is the only driver for them choosing a job..they should switch majors. People can make money in this business. It does not happen instantly. Doctors do not even make obscene amounts of money right out of school. And the money they do make goes to pay school loans.

So I think the immediate salary reward expectation is simply unrealistic and not a reflection of PR. Does our industry make as much or more than others? We are not breaking any records, but we do OK. No shame in that.

Hope this helps.

Comment by Kevin Dugan

@kevin Some points that I don’t necessarily agree with:

“As far as money…pay is always a consideration. But if salary is the only driver for them choosing a job..they should switch majors. People can make money in this business. It does not happen instantly. Doctors do not even make obscene amounts of money right out of school. And the money they do make goes to pay school loans.”

This is very much a “politically correct” answer I have heard before. I believe you are confusing an undergraduate education and its connection to an entry-level job. I wouldn’t be so quick to say that what you major in college means what you’re going to be practicing post graduation.

Sure, everything that we are discussing here is relative and “obscene amounts of money” for one person may not mean the same thing for another. However, compensation, without questions, is a top priority for anyone who is never complacent with what they are doing.

“So I think the immediate salary reward expectation is simply unrealistic and not a reflection of PR. Does our industry make as much or more than others? We are not breaking any records, but we do OK. No shame in that.”

Nothing is unrealistic and things can change. Actually, things WILL change in this industry. Reflecting on your second point, one should never be satisfied with an “OK” mentality. In this case, you reference “breaking records” on the scale of salary, but I also wonder about “breaking records” about internal/industry organization. There’s complete shame in not hiring, retaining and rewarding the smartest, passionate and loyal employees.

The industry asserts that we must lose “control” on behalf of our clients, but are we really doing that when we look at ourselves? Are we embracing this tsunami of change? The existing industry architecture is going to change and the groundswell from below will move, shake and alter the top.

Comment by Dave Ambrose




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: