Fudging the figures

Friday, 23 September 2011, 13:22 | Category : General
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A couple of things caught my eye this morning whilst perusing PR Week’s Best Places to Work (BPTW) Survey, 2011.

Firstly, you just can’t stop PR agencies from spinning the truth and they don’t just stop at their clients. Especially when it comes to entering themselves into their own industry awards. I noted with some amusement the gulf between the average agency working hours cited by those in the PR Census figures (which surveyed individual PR practitioners across the UK) and the sanitised versions that made the BPTW application form. Whilst agencies plumped for a gentle average of 41.5 hours per week, the Census came in at over ten per cent higher at 46.5 days (or almost a 6.5 day week – whichever you prefer). You’ve got to love that spin.

I certainly know which of the two figures is fudged. On the recruitment side of our business we hear tales day in and day out of restless staff feeling overworked or burned out. And whilst it would be easy to sit here and chastise those agencies for poor people management, and tell prospective candidates the grass is greener elsewhere, it’s probably just not true. This profession has always, and will always work tough hours. It takes a certain breed. And in these economic times – where everyone is having to work harder to keep afloat – it’s only going to get tougher. So if that’s your motivation for moving, make sure it’s not a case of frying pan and fire.

The second thing that occurred to me was the bittersweet irony of Lexis winning a BPTW bronze award in the same issue that devoted well over three pages of chunter, speculation and judgement to its attempt to TUPE 10 staff to Red. Whilst I congratulate them for their award, I am sure they don’t feel much like celebrating. What worries me more is that Lexis is now pretty much the ‘lightening rod’ for the entire industry, and I can only wonder whether the average staff retention figure in 2011’s BPTW (18%) will look as pretty next year.


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