Tag Archive: Edelman Public Relations


It’s not really about asking for the raise but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along. And that I think might be one of the additional superpowers that quite frankly women who don’t ask for raises have. Because that’s good karma, that’ll come back.” – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Was inarticulate re how women should ask for raise. Our industry must close gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of a bias.” – Nadella follow-up tweet

satya

The new Microsoft chief hit the wrong button on his PowerPoint clicker …

Or will his dentist find foot prints in his mouth?

Women should not ask for pay raises and just rely on “Karma.”

There is no Namaste at Microsoft today.

Sexism is Alive and Well

As Almost DailyBrett has previously commented sexism still lurks, even in women-dominated professions, including public relations.

Working at Edelman Public Relations five years ago, our Silicon Valley office was 134 kind souls, 110 with XX chromosomes. There was no line at the men’s room, simply because representatives of the knuckle-dragging gender were in short supply. Nonetheless, we male folk were well compensated.

Looking around my public relations and integrated marketing communication classrooms at Central Washington University, approximately three-out-of-every-four students is female. A comparable trend exists at the University of Oregon and conceivably other universities teaching public relations and communications around the nation.

And despite the undeniable numerical superiority for women practitioners, there is a pervasive, stubborn and resolute pay gap between men and women in public relations. According to a San Diego State School of Journalism & Media Studies quantitative study of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) members, published in Public Relations Journal, male public relations practitioners earn on the average $84,368, compared to women at $76,063. That amounts to an $8,305 difference in annual salary between the two genders. At first glance, that figure sounds relatively close.

However, the magnitude of the different pay for equal work comes into play when you multiply the $8,305 delta over the course of a 40-year career, bringing the total to a staggering $332,200 loss of earning power for women practitioners, their children and their families.

Microsoft’s Nadella is undoubtedly one bright dude, but he made comments Thursday that are not smart. Weren’t blacks told to chill out, have faith and wait out inequality? That seems to be the message that Nadella extolled about pay inequity in the workplace. Nadella upon reflection (and probably a kick in his nether region by Microsoft’s PR department) fired off the obligatory apology tweet … but the damage was done.

karma

“Rounding Error”

One of my former students was being offered an entry-level job by a West Coast public relations agency. She was thrilled by the prospect of a $33,000 annual salary and believe it or not: Three weeks of annual vacation (try taking off 15 working days at any major agency).

When it was suggested that she not take the first offer, and to ask for $2,000 more per year (essentially a rounding error for the finance department of a multi-million-dollar agency), she initially balked. Eventually she diplomatically said she needed a $35,000 salary, and the hiring manager didn’t even blink.

Upon reflection, she said (her words, not mine) that women are not good in negotiations and asking for what they want. Almost DailyBrett has no empirical data to confirm or deny that assertion, but she was convinced it was true.

What Must Be Done

Do public relations, marketing, social media and investor relations professors and instructors have a role to play in closing the communications salary pay gap between men and women? The answer is affirmative particularly when it comes to mentoring.

What jobs pay more? Technicians or managers? Let’s face it, technicians will always be paid in the five-figure range, the only variable is what is the first number. Some women may prefer working behind the scenes and being an integral part of a team. That’s fine, but these jobs most likely will never lead to six-figures.

Why not encourage more women students to be leaders of teams and to train for management in public relations, marcom, investor relations or social media? When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton said “that’s where the money is.”

There is also a major difference in pay rates within communications segments: Investor relations, financial communications and corporate public relations pay very well, non-profit and community relations not so much.

The average pay for practitioners in investor relations/financial communications is $117,233 … ka-ching. For corporate public relations, professionals are earning on an average, $88,827 … conceivably with managers, directors and vice presidents making above the median.

Conversely, community relations jobs pay $63,437 and non-profit positions, $62,275. Think of it this way, it is a big leap from the median to the six-figure mark for those working in community relations and/or non-profit.

Should women students be encouraged to seriously consider managerial positions, particularly those in high-paying investor relations, financial communications and corporate public relations disciplines? The answer seems obvious.

Ultimately, the choice will be made by the graduating student as she embarks into the wide-ranging field of public relations, marcom, investor relations and social media. Her decision and those made by literally thousands of her colleagues may play a pivotal role in closing the public relations gender pay gap once and for all.

http://mashable.com/2014/10/09/microsoft-ceo-women-karma-raises/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link

http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/09/microsoft-ceo-opens-mouth-inserts-foot-on-gender-pay-gap/?ncid=rss

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/addressing-the-gender-pay-gap-in-public-relations/

 

 

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Is Ghost Blogging Kosher?

Is undisclosed ghost blogging ethical even in cases in which the stated executive author concurs with the content and approves the posting of the blog in her or his name?

What’s the problem? Barack Obama doesn’t write his speeches? Everyone knows this.

ghost

More than 70 percent agree that ghost writing an executive blog is no big deal.

And yet there is a sizeable minority with qualms.

Isn’t blogging the development of personal relationships by means of digital two-way symmetrical conversation?

You can ghost write speeches. Ditto for op-eds and commentaries. But can you effectively “outsource” your conversations?

Isn’t undisclosed ghost blogging the antithesis of the public relations industry movement toward “radical transparency?”

Maybe this question isn’t so easy?

Arriving on the University of Oregon campus in fall 2010 after my nearly four-year tenure at Edelman Public Relations, I remember discussing the Edelman/Wal-Mart debacle with School of Journalism and Communication Assistant Professor Tiffany Gallicano.

edelman

The 2006 Wal-Mart/Edelman controversy revolved around the use of non-Wal-Mart employees “Jim and Laura” to blog about the pleasant working conditions at the retail giant. This “astroturfing” deception resulted in banner headlines and embarrassment for both Edelman Public Relations and its client Wal-Mart.

Essentially, Edelman hired “ringers,” one a Washington Post photographer and the other a U.S. Department of Treasury employee, to play for the Wal-Mart management team and everything was fine until they were caught. What made this caper all the more embarrassing is that Edelman participated in the formulation of disclosure standards for the blogging industry Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).

To Richard Edelman’s credit, he visited virtually all Edelman offices to apologize and all Edelman employees were mandated to take training in online disclosure. Richard is a major proponent of “radical transparency” and one can surmise the Wal-Mart experience plays into his evangelizing on this issue.

mackey

Similar headlines and rebukes were directed in 2007 against Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey, who blogged incessantly under the alias “Rahodeb” (an anagram on his wife’s name, Deborah). His posts found a litany of faults with rival Wild Oats, a company that Whole Foods was trying to acquire. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was none-too-pleased.

As Tiffany and I discussed the Edelman/Wal-Mart and Whole Foods cases, we realized that while the issue of undisclosed ghost blogging was not new, it was far from settled. The question: Is there a consensus among the public relations community about the ethics of this issue? We quickly became indebted to Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) for allowing us to circulate a quantitative survey of its membership on this subject. Nearly 300 (agency, corporate, public sector and NGO) practitioners responded.

PRSA has adopted an ethics code that all of its members should be “honest and accurate in all communications” and to “avoid deceptive practices.” The trade organization makes no distinction between communications that are traditional in nature, such as newspapers, or digital, such as blogging and podcasting.

Soon it was time to analyze the results and we were glad to have the assistance of quantitative Wunderkind and Ph.D candidate, Toby Hopp, to assist us. The study was declared valid, but the results were not clean-cut. This point was magnified when Tiffany and yours truly presented our results at the International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC) in Miami in spring of 2012.

We made several presentations, each starting first with the professorial types nodding their heads, but quickly arguing with each other. Tastes great! Less filling! No Disclosure! Disclosure? It was a sight to behold.

First, the easy part. Is it okay for an organization to list executives as blog authors even though they were written by others (e.g., PR types) as long as the ideas come from the listed executives and they approve the message: 71.1 percent, agreed; 20.7 percent disagreed.

Seems easy.

Next we asked is it okay for an organization to NOT disclose a PR agency’s assistance in writing blog posts under a client’s name? This is where the Radical Transparency movement first exhibited its influence: 44.7 percent concurred; 37.9 percent did not. Interesting.

The third question: “As a standard practice any ghostwriting of employer executive or client executive blogs should be publicly disclosed?” 37.1 percent, affirmative; 40.9 percent, negative. This was getting too close for comfort.

When it comes to staffers writing executive responses to reader comments (provided the ideas come from the executive and she or he gives approval), 56.3 percent believed this practice was acceptable, while 35.4 percent disagreed.

Finally, there is the question of a PR staffer writing an executive’s comment on subjects posted on some other blog, even with the ideas coming from that exec and she or he giving approval. The results revealed a reversal in sentiments: 42.6 percent approved; 44.0 percent disapproved.

We were pleased to receive the Jackson-Sharpe Award from the IPRRC in March 2012, and our research was published earlier this month by the PRSA’s Public Relations Journal. The Institute for Public Relations has created a Social Science of Social Media Research Center (SSSMRC). Our study will be available there as well.

Looking back at our research, a strong majority of industry practitioners see ghost blogging as essentially the equivalent of ghost writing a speech or op-ed. Everyone knows that Obama tinkers with his speeches, approves them but does not have the time to write them. That is largely true for CEOs as their time is precious.

speech

Isn’t it the job of PR practitioners (e.g., in-house corporate, agency) to assist executives in telling an organization’s story? Sure.

But is a blog the same as a speech or an op-ed/commentary? Speeches are two-way asymmetrical. Blogs are two-way symmetrical. Blogs invite conversation. Blogs benefit from comments.

Can you effectively outsource your digital conversations and still lead torch-light parades behind the banner of Radical Transparency?

The question of undisclosed ghost blogging does not lend itself to easy answers or quick consensus. Let the arguments continue into the night.

http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/PRJournal/

http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/PRJournal/Documents/2013_Gallicano.pdf

http://www.instituteforpr.org/scienceofsocialmedia/

http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2006-10-17/wal-mart-vs-dot-the-blogospherebusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/12/business/12foods.html?_r=0

gottfredson

The University of Oregon dodged a bullet.

The NCAA fired a shot across the bow.

The NCAA slapped the Ducks on the wrist.

What other metaphors seem appropriate just days after the not-as-big-as-we-initially-thought judgment day?

Is the coast clear for the University of Oregon?

That one is easy, no.

Teaching upper-division public relations at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and preparing client presentations during my days with Edelman Public Relations and LSI Logic, I became intimate with SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

UO leaders, whether they are university types at Johnson Hall or jock types at the Casanova Center, all know the exhilaration of being shot at and missed (another metaphor). Is this a time to celebrate? Or as the Independence Day holidays near, should the academic and athletic types use this welcome respite to reflect and ponder?

The next time, the university may not be so lucky.

Some imply that Uncle Phil’s money solves all problems. When something sounds so simple and frankly too good to be true, you know that is exactly the case.

First and foremost, the university must provide access to all worthy students and it must offer a quality education to all who walk through its gates. There are nearly 25,000 students that need to be educated in the best way possible at the lowest possible cost. Pac-12 titles, BCS Bowl wins and Sweet 16s are nice and provide onus to Oregon’s brand of success, but that is not the university’s primary purpose.

Taking all of these factors into account, how can Oregon totally restore its image for integrity, overcome previous charges of “mediocrity,” and most of all build upon its reputation, enhance its brand and give more charge to its cachet? That’s a tall order and that’s where a SWOT comes into play.

Oregon Strengths

● When considering the strengths of the University of Oregon, some will automatically think of the “O,” and will immediately tie it to the Nike “Swoosh.” Yes, Phil Knight is easily Oregon’s most famous alum, but he is not the only former undergraduate student who matriculated in Eugene.

Here are some other strengths: the relatively new President Michael R. Gottfredson, a breath of fresh air after his combative predecessor. The university boasts strong professional schools, including Architecture and Allied Arts, Business, Education, Law and my favorite, Journalism and Communication, and is widely regarded as a center for research and innovation.allen1

The university and the Eugene community are universally seen as leaders in sustainable environmental management and a healthy place to live. Eugene is a quality-of-life play … people want to reside here regardless of the temperate and temperamental climate.

Oregon Weaknesses

● When it comes to weaknesses, the comments made by former (read: fired) President Richard Lariviere and amplified by a frustrated Phil Knight about Oregon pursuing a path to “mediocrity” still hurt.

Oregon is located in America’s cul-de-sac, out-of-sight, out-of-mind of those who reside particularly in God’s Time Zone (e.g., EDT, EST). Geography and a small population will always be a factor. The State of Oregon has dropped its annual support to the university to about 5 percent of the university’s total budget, receiving $44 million in university generated revenues, and simply giving about the same amount back to UO. As a consequence, tuition is going up again, this time 5.8 percent, and the faculty has unionized. They are demanding a first-ever Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) … lovely.

Oregon Opportunities

● Surveying UO’s opportunities there is the continual upgrading of Oregon’s academic reputation (frosh numbers and GPAs are increasing) and enhancing athletic excellence. The university is looking north about 60 miles to Salem to see if the legislators will pass SB 270 (Haas, D-Beaverton) that would give UO its own institutional governing board.

The trick here is to convince the capitol movers-and shakers of the obvious: The University of Oregon is the state’s flagship university without spooking Southern Oregon University, Eastern Oregon University and Oregon Tech. We love you too.

If Salem is providing less-and-less, then it stands to reason to allow Oregon to have more of a say about how it will fund itself and build upon its impressive physical plant to better serve and meet the needs of its students.

Oregon Threats

● And what are the threats that keep the folks in Johnson Hall and the Casanova Center respectively up at night? The NCAA was one of them, and that monster has not totally gone away…it is merely taking a cat nap.

knightlibrary

Assuming the completion of an initial CBA, who will be the winner and who will be the loser? If the CBA negotiations are handled correctly on both sides – the university and United Academics – will be able to each legitimately declare victory. The university’s finances will pencil out and the academics will do what they do best: research and teach (in that order).

This successful scenario will avoid a faculty “action” and hopefully will reduce the upward pressure on student tuition, easing the hit on family pocketbooks and escalating student loan amounts.

There is also the perception threat: Uncle Phil will always come to the rescue. He is 75 and needs to dispense with $14.4 billion. Why not more for UO?

One suspects there will be more from Phil Knight…both athletically and academically … and the university will be thankful and humble. That does not remove either the challenges or the issues and the threats that need to be met and addressed. There are also tremendous opportunities as well.

It’s time to damn the torpedoes (another metaphor).

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/06/ncaa_gives_oregon_a_chance_to.html

http://www.forbes.com/profile/phil-knight/

ledzep

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run; There’s still time to change the road you’re on.” – Robert Plant, Jimmy Page

Even though I was serving as the chief spokesperson for the Governor of California, George Deukmejian, I was still nervous and a little excited about meeting Richard M. Ferry, one of the co-founders of the largest headhunting firm in the world, Korn/Ferry International.

As we met in 1989 in his Century City office, he asked me how long I had worked for the Duke up to that point. I replied: Eight years.

He inquired whether I was proud of my tenure with the governor.

His question struck me as curious. I replied in the affirmative.

He noted that while I saw my eight years as a source of pride, a future employer could very well see that period of time as “stagnation.”

“Stagnation”?

Guess the golden days of starting in the mail room and ending up in the corner suite 40 years later are gone, long gone.

And I was counting on receiving my gold watch, and fading into the sunset.

Later in my career, I established the Corporate Public Relations Department for LSI Logic Corporation.

Our founder, chairman and chief executive officer Wilf Corrigan was a serial wanderer. His management by walking around style included a daily stop to my Silicon Valley cube to talk about the news and what was happening with his company and his semiconductor industry.

Each day I prepared for his arrival, keeping notes about developments that warranted CEO attention. Originally, I thought that yours truly was not cut out for a corporate environment. I was wrong. I loved my days with LSI Logic, and especially working with Wilf…even though I did not report to him…I still worked for him.

After my 10 years on the job, Wilf (in concert with the Board of Directors) made the decision to retire from the job at 67-years young. A new Intel(ligent) CEO came in the door. He brought a slew of Intel(ligent) folks with him. I knew the writing was on the wall.

Shortly thereafter, I negotiated a get-out-of-town package and was out the door. The company stock was $8 and change when Wilf stepped down as chief executive. The Intel(ligent) team promised so much upon their storied arrival eight years ago. Today the stock opened at a robust $7.22 in the midst of a long-term bull market.

After accepting an executive position with Edelman Public Relations, I would periodically hear from my former colleagues still toiling at LSI Logic. They asked me for my humble opinion about what they should do. Being a man of few words (just kidding), I gave them a two-word reply: “Get out.”

And each time I received the response that the Intel(ligent) ones respected an LSIer for his or her 12 years with the company, 14 years with the company, 15 years with the company…Each of these LSIers was eventually laid off.

I couldn’t help but ponder the words of Richard Ferry about “stagnation.” You have to sense when a job or a situation has dramatically changed and has reached the point of no return. You can’t pretend that it hasn’t, when the circumstances have clearly shifted.

What’s that about not being able to go home again?

It is human nature to not embrace change. We know our routines. We are happy when we are in our comfort zones. Alles ist in Ordnung until the shift occurs.

When George Deukmejian decided to not run for a third term (even though he could legally take that step at the time), my life changed and thus my meeting with Richard Ferry.

When Wilf Corrigan stepped down at LSI Logic, I knew instinctively a chapter in my life was closing and I made a change.

When my wife, Robin, of 22 years died of cancer, my life changed whether I liked it or not.

And when I faced cancer and Valley Fever myself, I saw my own mortality pass before my own eyes twice. I knew that change is unavoidable and it must be managed.

And when change is in the offing, you can lament about it, feel sorry for yourself, or you can accept the shift and do something about it.

At the risk of publicly patting myself on the back, I choose to manage as opposed to having other Intel(ligent) people manage me. As Robert and Jimmy said in Stairway to Heaven there still is time to change the road you’re on.

For me, I sense another change. The Office of the Governor was a nice run. LSI Logic was a blast. Edelman was a great learning experience, The University of Oregon provided me with a new diploma, a foreign language certificate, a research award and substantial upper division public relations teaching experience.

So what will I do next? What chapters of my life will follow? Or will I be writing chapters of my own book?

I can hardly wait to find out.

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/ledzeppelin/stairwaytoheaven.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korn/Ferry

It’s time to petition the US Fish and Wildlife Service to add yet another new critter to the Endangered Species List.

And while we are at it, let’s not forget about designating abundant critical habitat to aid the recovery of this threatened-with-extinction species.

Another bird? Another animal? Another plant?

Nope. Instead in it is the Male-knuckledragging-kommunikashuns-pee-are-a-sourous.

How do we know that the male of the species is dying out in terms of the future of the public relations profession? All one has to do is simply open one’s eyes.

When I was working for Edelman Public Relations in San Mateo, CA, we had a staff of 134 working on a wide array of hardware, software and green/clean tech accounts. From this significantly sized team, 110 were card-carrying members of the fairer gender. Yep, there were no lines for the men’s room and it had nothing to do with physiological plumbing, just sheer numbers or in this case…the absence of numbers.

allen

Coming north to the School of Journalism and Communication at University of Oregon in Eugene, the beat just continues unabated. The female/male split in the undergraduate level, introductory, “Principles of PR” is about 60/40 in favor of women in a class of 160 students. No alarm bells are going off when you weigh this almost perfect state of gender balance, even though males are in the minority. A trip down the hall reveals another and more telling story.

I was asked to present a PowerPoint presentation on writing quarterly earnings releases and annual report letters for publicly traded companies to an upper division class, “Strategic Public Relations and Communication.” I went into the room and was greeted by 16 students and their Ph.D instructor…I was the only representative of the male of the species…

Who the heck invited me?

After the class was over, I started to reflect on the undeniable dominance of women in the PR profession now and based upon the present trend more so in the future. Several have written about the feminization of the industry, and why shouldn’t we welcome this change? And at the same time, we should abhor that women are still getting shafted (no sexual pun intended) when it comes to pay disparity in public relations.

The Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) 2010 Work, Life & Gender Survey reported that the average annual income for men in public relations was about $120K. The figure for women was about $72K. In PRSA’s 2006 survey, the average annual income for men was $98,188.82; the average for women was $67,853.08. The percent and sheer numbers of women in the profession are going up, and yet the pay gap is increasing. Yep, women have a good reason to be torked.

But wait a minute. If men – rightfully or wrongly — are being paid more, why aren’t more knuckle draggers trying to enter the PR ranks?  Average six-figure salaries are nothing to be sneezed at (especially in this economy) and yet women are dominating the profession just as they have taken over real estate and local government. Education and nursing have been feminized for generations.

Do men lack empathy? Are they really that insensitive? Do we see PR as a “soft”-profession, not befitting a true macho dude?  Are women naturally better at softening images of their clients? Do tough guy personas not work any longer in the courtroom of public opinion? (Donald Trump’s commanding use of the F-bomb would suggest there is still a market for testosterone-fueled bombast, bloviation and demagoguery. How long will it take for his lounge act to get tired and boring?)

risingtide

Let me also ask: Are women better at detail-oriented communications work, coordination, choreography and message development poetry and prose? Undoubtedly, we should celebrate the fact that women are voting by their sheer numbers to join the ranks of public relations professionals.

At the same time, shouldn’t a rising tide raise all boats? And shouldn’t the profession benefit from a wide array of talented individuals regardless of gender? Come on guys, it’s time once again to take the PR plunge.

Let the competition resume.

http://media.prsa.org/article_display.cfm?article_id=1978

http://www.prconversations.com/index.php/2011/02/pr-its-a-womans-world/

http://www.nywici.org/features/blogs/aloud/feminization-pr-why-aren%E2%80%99t-more-women-top

Wish I had a dollar for every time I have been asked to state a preference between corporate and agency life.

Yes, I have been fortunate to have worked for a decade in the trenches for a publicly traded technology hardware provider, LSI Corporation (NYSE: LSI) http://www.lsi.com, and also for three years-plus for an international public relations agency, Edelman Public Relations http://www.edelman.com. And with so many hiring managers and recruiters today seeking a “blend” of the two in this employment seller’s market, the easy answer is that if you don’t have one or the other, then you go out and fill-in the obvious gap on your resume.

Having said that, what choice should you make if you have dueling opportunities in these disciplines? The cop-out answer is that it depends on the individual. Not everybody was programmed from birth to thrive in a corporate culture of a carefully scrutinized and regulated publicly traded company. Likewise not everybody can succeed in an agency environment where compartmentalization and the constant demand to identify and win new business is a daily grind.

whiteboard

Last October, I wrote in an “Almost DailyBrett” post that agency experience is “PR’s Holy Grail.” My views have not changed. Whether you like it or not, hiring managers and recruiters place an inordinate amount of value on agency experience.

There is some justification for this preference because agency life instills a PR practitioner with the ability to simultaneously serve many masters with differing demands, circumstances, problems and abilities. A healthy dose of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), a slavish devotion to documenting every 15 minutes of your life on a billable-hour software spread sheet and a sense of humor are essential to succeeding or at least surviving in this consummate multi-tasking environment.

My “PR’s Holy Grail” post triggered frustration from some readers who tried to crack the agency world, but were turned away because of a lack of…you guessed it, agency experience. The result is a “Catch 22” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catch-22_ (logic) quandary with no easy answer.

Keep in mind that compartmentalization and the ability to serve many masters is also a very handy skill set in a corporate environment. The advantage in a company setting is that you are dedicated 24-7 to the greater glory and good of your employer. Having said that, your employer comes complete with a CEO and a CFO, a Finance organization, Investor Relations, Corporate Development, Human Resources, Business Units, Manufacturing and how can we forget Legal (You can never forget Legal)? Trust me, they are not always on the same page and many times you have to take sides without making a permanent enemy (easier said than done).

The publicly traded world also features a myriad of rules and regulations including SEC Reg FD that governs what is a “material” event and when and what can be said and to whom. Reg G requires the reconciliation of GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and Pro-Forma or Non-GAAP. If you are working a deal, you will be asked whether the acquisition or merger is accretive or dilutive and whether it is subject to Hart-Scott-Rodino. Your job will demand you understand not only the top and bottom lines, but COGS, gross margin, operating margin, R&D, SG&A, buy-and-sell side analysts.

investorrelations

And required bi-products of corporate life for publicly traded companies are quarterly earnings reports, annual meetings, and CEO letters to shareholders. Ditto for pre-announcements and most likely, restructurings that cost hundreds of jobs at a time. Wall Street may cheer the latter, but conversely the local media and the surviving employees will question management and put pressure on your external and internal communications programs.

So which is better for you, agency or corporate? The short answer is both. You are better off in the eyes of future employers if you offer a background with these two disciplines. The harder answer is which one should come first or whether you should focus your career on one or the other. One thing is certain: They are two completely different worlds and they are not for everyone.

Why is there a mythical quality about “agency experience?”

Now before you mentally chide me for daring to even ask the question, yours truly has three-plus years of agency experience as a technology senior vice president for A&R Edelman, the Silicon Valley office for the world’s largest independent and third largest international PR agency, Edelman Public Relations www.edelman.com.

Edelman_Logo_Color

As I move on from this rewarding experience, I have been meeting with agency and corporate recruiters and hiring managers and it is abundantly clear that half of these meetings would not have taken place, absent my agency experience? This begs the question: What is the big deal?

Before I joined Edelman in 2006, I was the Press Secretary for California Governor George Deukmejian and the Director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic www.lsi.com for a decade. My purpose here is to not blow my own horn, but to ask the question why those without agency experience are at a competitive disadvantage in the eyes of recruiters and hiring managers?

LSIlogo

My story is the same for literally thousands and thousands of PR professionals, who have distinguished themselves in the corporate ranks, representing politicians or toiled for trade associations. Doesn’t this experience count? It does, but too many there is something that is perceived to be missing.

One of the reasons is the PR agencies themselves, who have done an excellent job extolling their own worth and in many cases have performed brilliantly as hired guns. Keep in mind that many agencies are also fired by clients because “they didn’t understand our business model.” That is a frequent refrain.

Agency work is not for everyone. It is a great job if you suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). You have to compartmentalize. You have to multi-task. You have to serve many masters…some better than others… You have to account for every 15 minutes (nanoseconds?) of time and record it on a PeopleSoft spread sheet. There is no 24-7 service to the greater glory and good for one employer. You are the ultimate hired gun, baby.

Should a public sector, corporate, association etc. public relations professional add agency experience to his/her resume if s/he has a chance? Absolutely. The world is what it is. Agency experience has this very special quality in the eyes of key decision makers. Whether that is justified or not is immaterial. If you are asking for my opinion about taking the plunge into the agency, my response is “just do it.”

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