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The PR labour market – as it was in 2022

Marius Marin Ana Velea Minio Studio

The labour market is in a very dynamic moment. At the beginning of 2022, a large proportion of people were planning to change jobs as a natural consequence of the period of professional stagnation that the pandemic has brought. The reality is that we have received a new challenge (more of a shot in the arm) in the global macro-economic context, which has rapidly changed the facts of the matter. The disappointment was greater, the confusion more acute, the labour crisis became more acute in a way that we felt it acutely, a bit like when you want to go on holiday but there is no one to fly the plane – Marius Marin, Reputation Manager MINIO and Ana Velea, Head of Operations, in the PR Romania dossier on the PR labour market.

The communications industry is constantly changing and adapting, as are the types of candidates who aspire to a career in the field. How do you see these typologies changing over the last 2-3 years and where are we heading as an industry?

Ana Velea: People in the communications industry have always been more open to understanding problems, are very creative solution oriented and have a better understanding of effective communication. Candidates aspiring to a place in the industry are also very diverse in their typologies, and diversity is key when the common factor is creativity. I love recruiting people from the communications industry and I think it’s a part of my role that I never get bored of.

In recent years I’ve noticed a greater level of pragmatism among candidates, which after all isn’t a bad thing at all. People tend to pay more attention to discussions about money and benefits and come to the interview much more informed about this. All the experience of the last few years has shown us how important it is to be a valuable person in an organisation and how important it is to have material independence in times of hardship. Not to be overlooked is the aspect of emotional health, and people are increasingly asking about organisational culture values, trying to decipher whether or not they will have toxicity in the workplace. I’m convinced that when a whole world is forced to make major changes in the current context, the communications industry will play a key role in how all these changes are communicated. I believe the industry will adapt quickly to all the changes. Historically, it has proven this ability, but also that of delivering innovative solutions.

Can you name three current trends in the labour market? How has the employer-employee relationship evolved since the onset of the pandemic and what novelties/challenges do the current work tools and the new post-pandemic modus operandi offer us?

Ana Velea: The labour market is in a very dynamic moment. At the beginning of 2022, a large number of people were planning to change jobs, as a natural consequence of the period of professional stagnation that the pandemic has brought. The reality is that we have received a new challenge (more of a shot in the arm) in the global macro-economic context, which has rapidly changed the facts of the matter. The disappointment was greater, the confusion more acute, the labour crisis deepened in a way that I felt acutely, rather like when you want to go on holiday but there is no one to fly the plane.

In these conditions of real concern, career orientation becomes dependent on two essential factors: a salary that covers the level of inflation and the financial stability of the job.

On the bright side, we have other opportunities for job diversification, offered primarily by a reliable digitalised system, perfected in the pandemic, but also options for remote, hybrid and other tools for adapting to the new context. I believe that employers, in turn, have learned useful lessons and I also believe that any manager who wants to attract talent has understood the need for agility, technology and innovation. 

Marius Marin: From what I have observed, the trends are related to: how we work, how much we work and where we work from. All these are influenced by the social context, especially by this pandemic that has changed our lives in one way or another.

Overlooking the fears and insecurities brought by the pandemic, in terms of health and livelihood, if I were to look at things from a positive perspective, the pandemic has brought with it flexibility, freedom of movement and work, it has shown that whoever does their job well will continue to do so, in whatever format and with the same interest in their job. Equally, it has been a test for the employer, how close they are to the needs and concerns of their team members, and how much confidence they have in them.

What matters more now is that the people in an agency align with each other, in one form or another, and fulfill the roles they have. A lot also depends on the organisational culture, how ‘open’ it is, how much freedom it offers, how it works, but also how it performs best.

Whereas before I was in the office Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 6:30pm, and a work-from-home day seemed like an exception, now it seems to me that the way of working can no longer be imposed, because everyone increasingly cares about how they are organised and the time they have.

I’ve noticed that the hybrid format is predominant and I even saw recently that Revolut asked LinkedIn users how they prefer to work and 55% of respondents said they preferred the hybrid format. We at Minio Studio, for example, have a mix of how we work: work from home, work from coworking spaces and even work from anywhere.

In the context of a more flexible labour market, how do you feel the notion of “team” is being reinvented?  

Marius Marin: I think the pandemic has really tested the way we work, the belonging to the group and how strong the teams are. It was a period where everyone internalised their role better and for the team to remain strong, everyone had to contribute to that. I think we heard each other on the phone more than ever before, we asked each other more and more “how are you doing, are you okay?” and we said “take care of yourself!”.

I believe that a united team remains a united team, whether we are working from home or from different places, whether we are teaming up in the office or on Zoom.

Beyond each individual, the biggest challenge lies with employers – because every agency, big or small, needs a team, and there are people behind the team. We see each other regularly in full format, whether for meetings, workshops and learning, or for off-the-job activities: going to the movies, theme nights, birthday parties, teambuilding.

The need for construction and meaning in the communication industry seems to be at odds with the ghost of “faster”, the constant impatience and rush of interactions in the industry. Can the two tendencies – building and experimenting – be reconciled?

Ana Velea: I feel more than ever the need to create harmonized work teams with a common vision, a well-defined workflow and complementary skills. As interesting and attractive as this idea of breaking down territorial barriers is, the reality is that we are still bound by pragmatic indicators such as: deadlines that are getting shorter and shorter, budgets that are getting smaller and smaller, time availability (see working with a freelancer or a team that is in a different time zone) etc. Therefore, we need to invest more in planning a project, setting expectations and how to work, we need to talk more about how we work as a team. The goal is to avoid pitfalls like: spending more than 50% of the time in meetings, having to work with a team of programmers in India with whom you haven’t yet aligned your English, and so on.

Marius Marin: It’s true, we work in an industry where ideally things should happen quickly and well and a great job should come out (maybe even today or tomorrow). Most of the time we get it right, but it also depends on how you organise and streamline. However, we also know that “haste spoils work” and there are many watch-outs because in PR things need to be thought through, weighed up, scenarios visualised. It’s all about building, perseverance, analysis and continuity for results to appear, which is a bit of a battle with “let’s say something fast, have a reaction, do something…”.

Let’s look to the future for a moment. I would ask you what meaning do you give to the future of this industry from the perspective of the people who make it happen, and ultimately, what motivates you to stay in the industry?

Ana Velea: What this industry offers, our good fortune, is creativity put to the service of efficiency. It’s a combo that personally motivates me and keeps me on my toes. I trust that this exercise of creativity and the need to be as relevant as possible helps us solve problems in a way that is not only adaptive, but also innovative.

Marius Marin: First and foremost, we are people, above and beyond any function or status we have in the agency. It seems to me that we form a human triangle: we are people working with other people (either internally – our colleagues, or external stakeholders – journalists, influencers, suppliers and collaborators), also for people (we are talking about clients – those for whom we make campaigns or even buyers, consumers, to whom we communicate things).

Even though, on the one hand, enthusiasm for the industry has waned, I like to see that those who continue to do this are getting more and more involved and want to do things, are connecting more and more to society and the context we live in, including clients, and it shows a lot in the social side of PR campaigns. It seems to me that PR is now more about what that brand is doing for society or a category in society, how it engages, what it comes up with in support of a community, and there is less emphasis on brand PR. I have a comparison that I make and I say it’s less about “we brought this chocolate to market” and more about “we gave an impressive number of chocolates to rural children”.


Source: PR Romania