Are bad bosses and a patronising marketing department the chief reasons behind a 30% churn rate in PR?

Take a quick look around at your PR colleagues. Chances are their LinkedIn and Facebook will reflect a recent job change, one that took place in the last one to two years.

Some move within PR, some leaving PR altogether. PR executive, Himalaya Talan, recently wrote this piece about his learning from PR, even as he moves on from PR to an MBA degree and a marketing job future.

Frequent job changes are one of the biggest challenges PR faces. PR insiders say the churn rate is an average of 30%, well above the preferred average of 10%. Though, lower than industries such as hotels where the global churn rate can be as high as 60%, a churn rate of 30 % adds up to higher costs of retaining talent and greater team instability. Add to this an average Onboarding process of 2 to 3 months, we are looking at a serious talent retention issue.

Rahul Rakesh, senior PR professional, says that even the highly dynamic nature of PR, “People leave or join a firm for a set of clients that they don’t want to work on. There are instances when people actually move with the client to a different firm. We easily get bored of what we are doing. So, working on a set of clients for a year or two or more sets in the complacency and we start looking for working on new accounts, better accounts, bigger accounts.”

“PR is one of the most stressful jobs in the world. For some it’s genuinely ‘crisis’ driven with lots of work happening every day, long hours of work, even weekends." Rahul Rakesh

For Amandeep Arora, PR and communications professional, the issue is more about the people you work with. Arora shares that, “Employees don’t quit companies, they quit bosses. The real problem arises when there is micro-management of work by the superiors which is the main cause of lack of trust, lack of confidence and lower morale amongst employees.  It is very tough to find the right talent in PR these days. I believe if an employer wants to retain good employees, there should be fair chances for them to express their ideas, an environment where a team leader is leading with the team and everyone has given fair chances to work as per their core competencies.”

"Employees don’t quit companies, they quit bosses"

PR vs. MArketing
Ritesh Mehta, assistant vice president communications, State Bank of India, says the problem is more about the core perception of PR itself. Mehta points out that, “”To date very few company management realise the power and importance of PR. Marketing is and has been always more important for them. PR gets a step motherly treatment .”

Adds Mehta, the other challenge is expectation management. He says, “It's difficult to match expectation of your client or of your bosses. One needs to manage expectations which is an art not many people know.”

 “Marketing and PR go hand in hand but pay structure is skewed higher towards marketing.” Ritesh Mehta, SBI.

But the problem is not just marketing vs. PR, according to Reby Abraham, head of corporate communications for Koinex, “The reason is that the whole perspective about 'career' has also changed especially for the millennials.Thanks to the internet, we are exposed to so many new things in the world today, right from video blogging, to freelance travel, to pet care, to creative pursuits and so people want now to try out new stuff and so invariably change jobs to suit their alternative pursuits. I know of a colleague who works part time because she has her own foreign university admission counselling business. Another friend of mine took a  job at a smaller firm because she wanted to become a certified dog trainer.”

For Lalita Tiwari, account director, Fortuna PR, who switched from being a TV producer to PR, personal reasons dictated the choice to move to PR. Explaining her decision she says, “As a mother, I was looking for something less hectic but challenging enough. For people out there who think PR is just about managing client, media relations and good writing, it's way much more than that. I am a working mother and for me the environment which promotes work life balance is the best environment to be in.”

Tiwari’s experience of working in PR is positive.

The PR profession needs more such experiences to reach the talent pool out there, or PR might find it hard to compete for its’ share of talented people.

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