The lost generation

A recent PRWeek editorial posited the view that industry leaders have done a poor job of Capt.7a23ccc1c683d417205acba34c397564
explaining why the AIG's and Citigroup's of the world are entitled to spend their bailout money to hire PR firms. Where, the publication asked, are our leaders?

I would ask the very same question. But I would apply it to 'helping the next generation of PR pros.' Where are our leaders? Where are PR Week (as well as every other trade publication and industry association)?

I may have missed it, but I haven't seen, read or heard a single word aimed at assisting PR/communications majors who are about to graduate from college.

Where are the 'how to' columns? Where are the guest by-liners? Where are the podcasts and blogs containing useful tips for the next generation?

Industry trade pubs and associations are quick to publish articles about cost-cutting best practices and ways in which agencies can provide more value for lower fees. And, I wish I had a dollar for every opinion piece about measurement and 'what's next' in social media. But, where's the long-term thinking? Where's the investment in our industry's future?  Where is the practical knowledge our college kids need before they enter what may very well be the worst job market in 70 years?

To be sure, there are some individual leaders who are helping the college seniors: Tom Martin and Brian McGee at the College of Charleston come to mind. So do Larry Parnell at George Washington University and Maria Russell at Syracuse. But, where are the editors, reporters, association presidents and agency leaders?

We're only one midsized firm, but we're doing our best to try and help. For example:

– We're hosting a podcast next week that will be composed exclusively of college seniors majoring in PR. We're going to ask them what they're doing to prepare for graduation, how they are differentiating themselves and ask them to share best practices.

– We’ve posted a podcast on our website created by our interns. It's an amazing 'how to' in terms of succeeding at one's first job. It also lists things the interns know now that they wish they knew then. And, it includes tips for winning a job interview.

– We're also actively lecturing at colleges such as NYU, Northeastern, Monmouth University, the University of Vermont, Baruch, the College of Charleston, and others.

The average college senior has about six weeks until graduation. Many, though, are like deer caught in the headlights. They often use words like 'terrified,' when I ask them how they're feeling about the future. They have no job prospects, are saddled with significant student loans to pay and, worst of all, have no industry media or associations providing mentorship or advice.

So, here's a quick note to PRWeek, et al: hold off on the navel gazing for at least one week and devote some ink and advice to the next generation. It's later than we think.

4 thoughts on “The lost generation

  1. Hi Steve,
    I’m one of the seniors that will be participating in your podcast on Monday – I’m looking forward to “meeting” you and hopefully giving some advice to my fellow upcoming graduates!
    Great post by the way – I feel like all we hear about from the media is how bad everything is, instead of what we can do to overcome it. I’m just trying to stay positive! 🙂

  2. By the way, Sara Whitman and Debbie Salerno from Peppercom will also be participating in what sounds like a great video Webinar for advertising and PR college students on Wednesday, April 8, at 5 p.m. EST called “Gut Check–Finding an Ad+PR Job in Today’s Economy.” Western Kentucky University is organizing this for ADFED and PRSSA students. Contact Ken Payne for more information.

  3. Thanks for your kind words, Steve, about the work many of us are doing to prepare graduating seniors for a very difficult job market. Those of us in higher education are (or should be) very worried about this graduating class.
    I am grateful for those professionals at Peppercom and elsewhere who are providing outstanding mentoring to our students.

  4. Amen Steve! I’ve told everyone I would have been completely lost in the PR job market if I didn’t intern at Peppercom and receive guidance/advice from my colleagues.
    Some advice to college students:
    I found several blogs directed at graduating seniors with daily advice on how to write resumes, ace interviews, etc. Ramen Noodles, Rent, and Resumes is a personal fave