Does Public Relations Have a Competitive Advantage?

Let’s face it, United States’ economy is not looking too hot. Each month accounts for another record loss of jobs, banks are announcing losses of billions of dollars due to the sub-prime mortgage and credit crunch, and it seems that industries are beginning to brace for worse things to come.

Also, the jobs many Americans use to have are going overseas to be done cheaper, and with the same efficiency the jobs were done here. So that brings the question, will our future jobs in public relations be safe?

In short, I would lean towards yes. For a business- or total a industry in this case- to be outsourced, it means that it would had to of lost it’s competitive advantage, the core competency(ies) that places it above or amongits competition; which in this case would be the public relations practice in the U.S. versus the practice abroad. A competitive advantage is said to be achieved by attaining success in three areas: if it is valuable, rare, and difficult to copy. In these three cases, I would argue our jobs in public relations in the U.S. are safe.

Valuable

One could argue that practicing public relations- though one of the oldest forms of communications- started in the United States. The U.S. decades ago was a breeding ground of thought leaders who created the foundationfor the industry we know and love today. Along with that, as this post is being written, the public relations industry is growing at a very fast pace. An article on Career Builder showed that public relations manager salaries are increasing little over five percent a year. The American economy is placing a big investment in public relations, and clearly recognizes the value of it.

Rare

Public relations, as we all know, come in many different shapes and sizes. The ability to craft a hard-hitting message to specific audiences is more difficult than it looks. For the practitioner to be successful, dedicated time for research and a developed relationship with opinion leaders and those in their publics are key. Not many are able to succeed at that. (sidenote: speaking of rare have you seen this? The Pure Thinking blog found it and I thought it was awesome…my score was 28. Definitely rare all right).

Difficult to Copy

Similar to the “rare” element above, being difficult to copy comes rather easy to public relations. If we could get our entire Society in the room and rattle off all the different types of public relations there are, we’d be there for days. Then add in the kinds of publics thosetypes of public relationsserved, we’d end up spending a nice week or so enjoying each other’s company. Mastering the jargon of healthcare, sports entertainment, hospitality, high-tech and consumer public relations would be no easy task; and try being successful in each category, on another continent. Not going to happen.

So take a deep breath my fellow PRSSA members. The public relations industry in the United States will be intact for quite a while. And though it may be difficult in enter the industry right away with the economy as it is, once the economy begins to boom again there’ll be a position waiting just for you.

Thoughts and/or comments?

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