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Industry Growth Reflects Demand For Information


21 January 2008

Growth In Public Relations And Communications Industry Reflects Growing Demand For Information

The increase in public relations and communications staff in New Zealand government departments reflects worldwide growth in the industry, says the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ).

PRINZ Executive Director Paul Dryden says that expansion in PR/Communications staff is consistent through almost all industries and organisations in New Zealand and overseas.

There are two main reasons for this increase, he says. Firstly, a better informed public is demanding better quality information, and secondly, businesses and organisations have realised that PR and Communications staff play an effective strategic management role in an organisation.

Although media relations is still an important facet of public relations, the industry has long since moved beyond focusing on the media alone.

The biggest growth is in the area of social media, where the proliferation of web-based communication has caused a huge increase in the demand for clearly presented information.

At a strategic level, one of the most significant roles of a PR person is to feed back information into an organisation, says Mr Dryden.

"Unless a business or organisation understands what its stakeholder groups think and need, it will not be useful or effective."

As regards the increase in PR/Communications spending in government departments, it is important to remember that these organisations are apolitical, says Mr Dryden.

"We need to differentiate between people working directly for politicians, who have a clear political role, and those working in government departments."

"People working for government departments are answerable to the people of New Zealand, regardless of who is running the country."

Mr Dryden says that the growth in the number of PR/Communications professionals reflects a growing professionalism in the industry and a growing recognition of the need for its services.

Recent research (PRINZ Trends Survey 2006) shows an increase in the proportion of people entering the industry with a tertiary qualification, usually a Bachelor of Communications. Conversely, there has been a decrease in the proportion of ex-journalists entering the industry.


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