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Are Millennials Unhappy with PR?
By: Jeannine Wheeler
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A recent study says Millennials working in PR are feeling the pressure and lack role models. What’s a manager to do?

According to PR Week, Millennials are dissatisfied after the two-year mark in the public relations profession and — although enjoying the ‘work hard, play hard’ culture – have gripes.

Concerns included:
  • "How little you are briefed – you’re expected just to get on with it"
  • "Unrealistic workloads leading to late and sleepless nights"
  • "Pressure that leads to things being rushed"
  • "Unpredictability of the workloads, which is [incongruous] for an industry that prides itself on planning"
Trouble is, this is arguably just part of the profession, where everyone is overworked, under pressure, and sleep-deprived.

If you have a roster of clients, as does the typical PR agency, unrealistic workloads, rushing, and unpredictability are the norm.

If your clients are in dynamic industries (is there any other kind?), the possibility that outside influences (stock market fluctuations, the threat of regulation, agitator groups, or world events) will outpace your day.

If your managers are busy handling existing clients, prospecting new ones, and dealing with office politics, they probably don’t have a lot of time for hand-holding and training. Throwing younger staff into the deep end (with close oversight, of course) is a good way to get them the experience they need to advance.

As far as sleepless nights, PR is a high-pressure job. Are universities pressing this point? It should be no surprise that in a profession where people can positively (or negatively) affect a brand’s reputation, there will be pressure.

And because of those outside influences, even careful planning can go awry. In fact, PR people are some of the most cautious, best-prepared, and most forward-thinking people I know.

But even they cannot control what the media is going to write about a brand, guarantee that a campaign will go viral, or bring in the necessary level of leads if customers do not take to a product or service.

Hard work, some dumb luck, experience borne of mistakes, and perseverance are all part of the job, as are unpredictability, pressure, and sleepless nights.

Of course, top-line managers can always do more to welcome and nurture new talent, such as was suggested by The Fairlight Project, which conducted the study: implementing a new set of indicators, training, and incentives at the two-year mark.

It might also help to make it perfectly clear to newbies that it’s more than acceptable to ask for help if they’re feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes a reminder and a thorough walk-through can make us realize that we’ve perhaps neglected to nurture our junior people.

*The Fairlight Project carried out interviews with 12 young PR professionals for the study Millennials in PR and Comms. It was undertaken with support from the Taylor Bennett Foundation – a London charity that aims to increase ethnic diversity in PR.


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About the Author
Jeannine Wheeler is a PR Director who has worked in three countries, including Russia, the US and the UK. She is currently Sr. Vice President of Pure Energy PR, a full-service boutique communications firm with a focus on the energy, healthcare, technology, construction, real estate & land development, tourism & hospitality and food & beverage industries. Jeannine is in the firm's Austin, Texas office.
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