Are PR professionals set to overtake journalists?

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By Steve Lambert, Account Executive. [email protected]

 

It would appear that the time of the PRs is now. With recent data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggesting that the amount of PR professionals is up to 55,000, it looks like it’s just a matter of time before the profession overtakes the journalism industry to take pole position in the media sector. But what does this mean for the industry, and more importantly, what does this mean for us?

The 2015 Labour Force Survey by the ONS has found that the PR industry has increased by nearly 50% in the past two years, whilst the amount of journalists has actually dropped to just 64,000. Considering that the gap was 27,000 just five years ago, it’s quite clear that if such trends continue, the amount of PR staff will be higher within the next five years or so.

On the face of it, this is a great thing for us in the business. A greater talent pool to choose from, bigger workforces to take on larger projects, and an increase in cash flow for the executives and managers that make the work happen. However, those in PR are going to have to accept that with greater numbers comes greater competition – meaning that they’ll have to even harder if they want to stay afloat.

In one sense, this is good as it means the best of the best will be getting the coverage, but as a result many PR firms who have perhaps become complacent may now struggle, as they won’t be gaining the regular coverage that they may have had a few years ago. This opens the door for ambitious new start-ups to take the reins with their work, going above and beyond to gain coverage for their clients, much like we do (shameless plug over!).

With journalists further under the cosh, PRs will have to do more and more of the journalist’s job if they want sustained client coverage. Keeping tabs on social media trends is a given, but anticipating upcoming stories will also be necessary to stay one step ahead of the competition. Monitoring your own coverage is vital too – with dwindling amounts of journalists in the field, they’re increasing workload means that informing those in PR about whether they’ve published their work will be at the bottom of their agenda.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens to both industries when they almost inevitably cross paths over the next decade or so. With journalism seemingly on a downward spiral, will it become the job of PR professionals to take the brunt of the media work or will traditional journalism stand strong? Only time will tell.