When to make your PR career move

Spring is a popular time to move jobs, and if you are a digital journalist right now, you could be set for a profitable move into PR. According to recruitment specialists and recent research, journalist skills are in high demand, with the number-one skill marketing recruiters are looking for being digital expertise.

The latest Reed Marketing and Creative State of Skills research, shows that interest in SEO managers has increased by 44% in the last five years and the interest in social media manager is 84 times the amount it was in 2008.

Jody King, director of recruitment firm Reed Marketing and Creative, says: “A level of digital skill is now expected in every marketing role, and it is a need that is developing and expanding as the industry continues to evolve.”

Communication skills
Digital skills are not enough on their own, however, as Kings adds: “Our State of Skills tool indicates, ‘human’ skills such as the ability to clearly explain ideas and information to others are still vital to the marketing and communications skillset, both to deliver effective marketing communications, and to work with stakeholders – whether that’s within your organisation or to clients and suppliers. Add creativity to the mix and a marketing professional will be fully equipped for the future of the industry.”

Salary stats
Despite the depressing stats from the PRCA released earlier this week claiming that average PR salaries are down by 7%, Reed research suggests that the demand for specialists in PR and marketing is pushing up salaries. King says: “At management level, the need for specialist skills is being recognised across a variety of disciplines. In 2018, this was demonstrated by a 12% increase in advertised salaries for communications manager, a 10% increase for content marketing managers and a 12% increase for digital marketing managers.

“It’s not just senior roles that are receiving good news. We are also seeing a rise in salaries across assistant and exec level roles, which is a positive message to those wanting to enter the industry.”

Recruiter viewpoint

Amanda Fone, CEO at f1 search and f1 recruitment, discusses how journalist skills are in demand: “In my experience, the demand is still for broadcast, digital and print

journalists to migrate across to PR agencies or in-house corporate press offices as a career move.

“Many brands/corporates are setting up their own in house 'agency comms and marketing' style teams and are looking for a similar skills set. As brands more and more become curators of their own content, there is still a need for journalists particularly those with digital content backgrounds. Comms agencies still need the media training skills set that journalists have in abundance. It is unusual for a PR professional to move into journalism. For one, the salaries are lower and the hours more unpredictable although there may be more flexibility.”

Like Reed’s King, Fone concludes the real demand is for digital skills: “If you want to get on in PR you need to have your eyes set on gaining advanced influencer, social, experiential and content skills – this is what agencies are looking for in their comms practitioners”.

First Person

Starting your own business

Holly Pither, MD and founder of agency Tribe PR, says that if you want to start up on your own don’t be put off by finances: “All too often I chat to other PROs and creatives who are desperate to go it alone and start their own business. Having done this myself earlier this year with Tribe PR, I want to reassure people that it’s not as scary as they might first think.

“My personal opinion is that people are overly fearful of the finances (I know I was!) As a PR professional, I know what I’m good at and that’s being creative, writing great copy and coming up with good campaigns, but the financial side of running a business made me very nervous. I was worried about learning about and fully comprehending all the financial jargon from ‘dividends’ to ‘net profit’ to ‘depreciation’ and being able to talk about them with any kind of certainty. But in actual fact the financials are just a very small part of running a business and like all things, the moment you start doing it, the moment it becomes a whole lot less intimidating. Also with a good accountant from day one, you need not feel out of your depth.”  

From in-house to agency
Ailene Barr, client manager at Milk and Honey PR, describes how she moved agency-side: "Not one to take the traditional route – I recently started a new job in a PR agency after spending five years in-house. Deciding to make the leap wasn’t easy, but I knew that working in an agency would be a great opportunity to grow. Luckily, I found a small, energetic agency with ambitious plans and incredibly talented people. I was drawn to Milk and Honey PR because of its people-first approach – knowing I would have the time to learn and breathe made the change much less scary.

"In an industry that can often go a million miles a minute, the one thing you always need around you is a top-tier team. If you’re planning your next career move, then the most important question you can ask yourself is how well you will work with your new team. 

"This doesn’t mean you need to be the same. In fact, if you'll bring something new you should celebrate it, not hide it away. Bravery is very important when making a career move and it does pay off. I’d recommend moving somewhere that will challenge you – it’s the best way to learn new skills and develop your career as quickly as possible."

As Ailene Barr says, if you are planning a career move, you need to be brave. As with many exciting journeys, the first step is usually quite simple, so get working on that CV!