When this pandemic first hit, few of us imagined the severe impact on our livelihoods. PR agencies are losing clients. Companies are putting comms initiatives on hold or eliminating them altogether. This has resulted in employee pay cuts, layoffs and reduced outsourcing to subcontractors.
While there’s no doubt that jobs have been lost, eventually many of those positions will be reinstated in one form or another. If you’re out of work, now is the time to focus on opportunities addressing today’s key issues that will continue to be top of mind in early in 2021:
- Employee Relations. To emerge from the pandemic ready to be fully productive, companies need to retain their workforce by building trust and respect. It begins with listening in a thoughtful and personal way to the anxiety, uncertainty, and practical issues workers face. Not just saying “we hear you,” but taking specific, practical action to make a difference. For example, since studies show that employees trust information from their employers more than from politicians or other sources, providing reliable information about the development of COVID-19 vaccines is a good place to start.
- Distance Learning. Anything that helps families teach children at home – from the technology that facilitates distance learning, to solutions that lead to greater productivity for students, parents and teachers, will be in high demand.
- Diversity & Inclusion. As the economy rebounds, firms that do not have an outstanding reputation for supporting D&I initiatives will be at a disadvantage. Companies are looking for comms professionals who can help them determine priorities, implement meaningful programs, set performance metrics, evaluate results, communicate progress and sustain a focus on this critical issue.
- Events. According to various news sources, there could be vaccine by the end of the year. PR agencies are beginning to think about how to be ready for a surge in business early in 2021. I think we’ll see a real turn in the first quarter. Corporate promotions will ramp up in preparation for the Summer Olympic Games. And while industry trade shows may not come back until fall 2021 or early 2022, marketing for these events is done well in advance.
If You’re Unemployed
If you’re out of work now, my advice is to get up to speed on the issues that are heating up and think about areas where your help might be needed. Then engage with hiring executives about the issues you believe will require their attention and suggest setting up an exploratory meeting about how you could be useful in the near future.
Cast a wide net to find out who is hiring. Amazon, for example, has a variety of jobs scattered throughout individual product groups, and a separate area for corporate comms roles. Last month there were over 700 PR positions listed, mostly at the manager-to-senior-manager level.
Also, consider project or freelance work. While some agencies and companies are nervous about permanent hires, there’s still work to be done. Describe your skill sets and mention that you’re available for projects or to work for a specified time such as a certain number of hours a week or several months.
Above all, do your best to stay positive. There are many more areas that have communications needs and companies that will be challenged to find new solutions. Comms professionals that can provide those solutions will thrive.