Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How many unemployed in PR?

While I track down the Labor Department statistics, we may get a good idea of the employment scene in Los Angeles when the Public Relations Society of America/Los Angeles chapter on May 20 holds a unique (and rare daytime) session called "Don't Get Kicked in Your Career."

I am hopeful that colleagues - whether they are out of work, struggling to get by on freelance jobs or fear they are next - will put aside any pride issues and show up.

From personal experience, I know that half of 2008 and all of 2009 have been a rough time for all levels of practitioners. Agency owners tell me of the difficult task of laying off valued staff. Budget cuts have transitioned dozens into new eras of their careers. Newcomers to Los Angeles are nervous after spending months looking. College graduates entering the marketplace this month and next are perhaps the most concerned.

One group that doesn't appear to have too many problems are former journalists. At least the veterans. Agencies, governments and others are quickly snatching up these former reporters - primarily for their connections. (Who wouldn't want a business reporter who was on the phone with corporate CEOs?)

One thing PRSA and other organizations can provide, besides a shoulder to cry on, is networking. And that leads to jobs. Case in point: At a recent PRSA/LA social mixer, I introduced an unemployed transplant to the owner of a start-up PR consultancy. Within a few weeks, the transplant is back doing what she loves. It's not full-time work, but it's a start. Mediabistro recently discovered there is a place called LA and held a social mixer here last month.

I would like to hear your stories on what you are doing to survive. Started your own firm? Changed careers? Start now.

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