Is PR Moving Toward a Freelance Model?

Entering the job market? A very interesting trend study leads U.S. News to wonder whether we will “all be freelancers soon.”

This research was conducted in order to promote Elance‘s job search and placement products, but it includes some points worth repeating: 6 in 10 companies involved said they plan to hire more freelancers in the coming year, with a particular focus on “people who work in sales and marketing, design, writing, and information technology.”

Don’t know about you, but that sounds a whole lot like everybody we know.

Elance calls it “a monumental shift toward fractional work“, and the reason for the move is obvious: companies can get more work done while spending less in the long run by signing freelancers on a per-project or per-hour basis rather than bringing them in-house.

But will it work for PR?

In many cases the answer is no because firms need strong teams to work together signing and managing clients. That can be a little tough when members of your team work remotely and have no long-term salaried commitment to your firm. But the new business-wide turn toward content creation should complicate that equation. (Here’s a Twitter feed created to “connect companies with top PR freelancers”, but it doesn’t seem to have garnered too much attention so far.)

Everyone loves retainers, but that doesn’t stop firms from working on one-off projects with clients that didn’t choose them as AOR—and we know from our industry contacts that larger firms often call on freelancers for projects in the content marketing sphere. But beyond writing gigs, we’re very curious as to whether the industry will roll with this tide.

Here’s our theory: companies will soon realize that they can save and suffer no real decline in quality of work by hiring freelancers for design and content-focused projects. In order to compete, firms will need to begin doing the same in order to reduce their overall operating expenses.