In a finding that may surprise some in media and advertising, the annual career report from U.S. News has named “public relations specialist” as the best creative job in America.
What does this mean?
It means that, after measuring 10-year industry growth by volume and percentage, median salaries, job prospects for seekers, rates of employment for those in the industry, stress levels, and work/life balance, PR beat out architecture and art direction to win the crown.
Yes, the field was narrow. But the recession hit the architecture discipline particularly hard as cities and developers began to look for cheaper alternatives. And while art directors are, on average, paid more than PR specialists, ad agencies have even higher turnover rates than PR firms.
As to the “creative” classification, U.S. News hints at something we all know well: the practice requires an ever-shifting skill set and, above all else, the ability to adapt to the requirements of a new media climate. Hell, just today we witnessed the first Super Bowl ad for a new media company.
What does the report have to say about those responsibilities?
“As a public relations specialist, it’s your job to cultivate and maintain close and productive relationships with journalists, bloggers and opinion leaders. You’ll be asked to create print and Web-based communications materials – which may include story pitches, press releases, Q-and-A interviews, presentations, video scripts and speeches – that are consistent with your client’s image and message. Other responsibilities range from acting as a company spokesperson for a variety of media inquiries and speaking directly to the press on behalf of your client (sometimes deflecting negative criticism), to preparing your client for press conferences, media interviews and speeches.”
That’s close enough. It’s true that U.S. News calls PR the best creative job rather than the most creative job, but the people working in the industry know what they mean, even if the products of that creativity aren’t always as visible as, say, advertising. (But sometimes they are.)
Most importantly, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that more than 27,000 PR jobs that don’t exist today will be created within the next 10 years.
We don’t want to demean the industry’s win or the research behind it, but we would like to bring your attention back to the last two factors used to create this list: work stress and work/life balance.
Let’s just say that, in celebrating its symbolic victory, PR should be glad that “stress” only accounted for 5 percent of each industry’s total. Now go have another cup of coffee.