Are these the good old days of communications?

tn_help-wanted.jpg Is the hiring sign lit at communications firms? Today I take a second look at a report from the market research firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS) that focuses on the growth expected within the industry’s four main segments: advertising, marketing, consumer (media) and institutional (media).

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the same report but from a macroeconomic view that lamented its prediction that “Communications will be the third fastest growing of the 15 economic sectors during period from 2007 through 2011, trailing only the agriculture, forestry & fishing and federal sectors.” I see this as evidence of a cheese whiz economy – lots of empty dollars that produce fewer jobs than manufacturing, professional services or better-paying employment sectors.

But today I want to look back at the Veronis Suhler Stevenson report solely from the jobs standpoint. I will be talking to college journalism students soon and I’d like some sense of their career options — separate from the pessimism that I feel as someone who has recently said goodbye to one out of every four of my colleagues at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Again, here is the free summary of what you must realize is a costly report that VSS sells to its media clients. Highlights include:

“For the first time since 1997, consumers spent less time with media in 2006 than they did the previous year, as media usage per person declined 0.5 percent”

Commentary: Makes sense. Time is now the limiting factor on how much media consumers can receive. I don’t have the ability to easily consider all the employment ramifications of this (if consumer media use flattens does this back up into movie and music industry employment). But the figure does presage more of the contraction we are already seeing in consumer media firms.  But if you are curious about the jobs outlook visit the Occupational Outlook Handbook produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It gives outlooks and salaries for every occupation. I plugged in “reporters” and found:

“Employment of news analysts, reporters, and correspondents is expected to grow more slowly than average for all occupations through the year 2014.”

The BLS report also offers salaray projections and other tips for every profession including in this case advertising, marketing and public relations. According to the Bureau’s projections:

“Employment of advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through 2014, spurred by intense domestic and global competition in products and services offered to consumers.”

Commentary: Makes sense. It may be disappointing to me but there you have it. Incidentally, the VSS report predicts that “Internet advertising is expected to become the largest ad segment in 2011, surpassing newspapers,” which should fuel all such spending and employment activities whatever happens to consumer media journalism.

Again none of this is surprising. But the report contained one novelty worth noting in this regard. For the first time VSS measured the media consumption time of what it called “institutional users” — which I take to be the corporarte folks so affectionately lampooned by the Dilbert cartoon strip. (I just read the bio of Dilbert creator Scott Adams in which he tells about his life as a corporate slug in his case for banks where he was “robbed twice at gunpoint.”)

First off VSS says this report provides its “first-ever analysis of business and government media usage” which says from the start this is a trend so new these guys, who breath, eat, sleep and drink media only just noticed. The report says:

“While consumers spent less time with media in 2006, media usage by institutional end-users grew 3.2 percent to 260 hours per employee . . . Institutional media usage climbed at a CAGR of 3.3% in the 2001-2006 period, driven by the continued integration and increased use of online and digital platforms to enhance business performance and workflow. Institutional media usage will continue to grow from 2007 to 2011 . . .”

Commentary:  Of course! With the perfect benefit of hindsight this is so obvious. People now routinely go into work and fire up the old broadband news reader. Human relations folks are blasting the benefits booklets out onto the web. Training must proceed at a furious pace, and with globalization there must be attention to issues of cultural sensitivity, not to mention government mandates like sexual harassment policy. Think about the technical characteristics of markets like Internet engineering (but just before I was going to mention the magazines put out by Cisco Systems, I fortunately checked their website to find out that the magazines have been killed and their audience-service functions transferred to a series of web sites — a skills shift for info-workers but still I would think in keeping with the trend.)


Many thoughts forming around this new information but no time to think outloud now. By the way with the Labor Day weekend coming up I may flake out till Tuesday. See when I see you.