Monday, October 11

Changing Communication: Front Line Workers Over Leaders

According to a study by CNBC, the communication industry (advertising, public relations, and marketing) may see some more major transitions in the near future. This time around, the changes aren't expected to be external like the advent of social media. It will be internal, driven by changes in workforce positions, which will eventually cause cross-industry changes.

In the next decade, as media continues to consolidate, public relations (those who really worked in media relations) will face increased position competition by journalists. And, given the journalists will have a leg up on demonstrating "inside knowledge," many public relations pros will be absorbed into advertising (if they are creative), marketing (if they are not), or social media (for less money). As each position's exodus occurs, others within the field will likely be forced out or regulated to increasingly task-oriented jobs.

Communication-Related Positions Expected To Decline.

1. Reporters and Correspondents. According to the report, reporters and correspondents at media outlets will decline as much as eight percent in the next decade. This could increase competition in the fields of advertising and public relations as reporters and columnists on the top of the chain compete for better paying public relations jobs while new entrants are likely to consider advertising and public relations a backup.

2. Computer Programmers. While the software segment is expected to increase by as much as 32 percent in the decade, computer programmers (the people who write the instructions for computers to run software) will drop three percent. Either computer programmers will become increasingly independent or find new ways to adapt their work. We think it may impact the communication field as more marketers add tech savvy programmers to their creative teams.

3. Advertising, Marketing, And Public Relations Managers. While the industry is expected to grow 13 percent, communication management is expected to drop by two percent. This could impact the industry two-fold. More people but fewer managers will reduce the entry level positions to a subprofessional level and decrease opportunities for advancement. Beyond that, the industry has been trending toward tactical solutions, requiring more task work and people to fill chairs. And no, this isn't a good thing.

4. Editors. If you're tried of seeing typos in everything from media articles, company Websites, and blogs — get used to it. Editing positions will remain flat, with more of them being contracted as opposed to brought in house. Part of the decline is attributed to problems within the publishing industry, but the bigger picture is that companies want editors who are more than editors. They have to have some tech skills too. Interestingly enough, while there is less demand for the position, there is greater demand for the skill set.

While some of these changes seem insignificant, they represent sweeping changes in the industry. As media outlets continue to trim staff, public relations professionals (there is almost a reporter: public relations ratio of 1:2 already) will be expected to develop more direct-to-public campaigns. Unfortunately, they won't oversee the campaigns as — across the board — management is being diminished, leaving more communication professionals with less room for advancement in a field that was already competitive.

The net result is more tactical and less strategic work. And while this will appeal to number crunchers who believe everything is a formula based on the total number of people vs. the dollars spent, the net result will be weaker brands and a profession that increasingly feels less professional. For all the good social media has done, it is also stripping away some of the significance of the industry as entry-level communicators are much more likely to find their positions much more similar to online customer service than content creation and management.
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