PR job title inflation

I did a little analysis of the job titles of members of the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) recently and think I might have spotted an interesting trend.

Fewer than one-third of members have titles that indicate their role as being administrative or executive level (that is PR executive as opposed to chief executive).  A third have manager or senior in their title, with the remainder carry a title of director, head of or similar high status label.

Perhaps the job title changes reflect the move away from PR’s traditional focus on media relations?  Interestingly, the most common job title in MIPAA remains “press officer” – but this seems to be given to entry level practitioners.

So does MIPAA membership reflect a bias towards the upper echelons of the PR profession?  Are we missing out on junior practitioners in the group?  I don’t think so.  Rather, I believe there is job title inflation going on in public relations.

If you look back to the early 1990s, there seemed to be a similar shift, when MIPAA members suddenly gained the word “manager” in their job titles.  Perhaps it is easier for organisations (in-house and consultancy) to offer up a fancy job title, rather than improved salaries or benefits.  And, if there is kudos in the title, then why not load on additional “management” responsibilities, regardless of actual experience or competency. 

The consequence is that those who are managing budgets, people, departments or projects, need to have an even better job title.  So Head of… or Director of… is sought – and again, awarded by organisations who can easily offer up new business cards and enhanced workload to those wanting a “bigger” job title.

Or am I being cynical and the changes reflect an increased status for PR itself?

Is this just something peculiar to PR in the UK motor industry – or is this a wider trend? 

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4 Replies to “PR job title inflation

  1. Not sure that I totally agree that press officer should die as a title, since if that is what someone’s job involves, I’d prefer to see it clearly labelled as such rather than hidden under some manager or head of title.

    The inflation of job titles also seriously undermines perfectly good functions, when people feel they will be looked down on if they don’t have something more “fancy schmancy”.

    To take up the pet theme, in my “pack”, I try to remain in the top dog role, but the fact that, as the only human, I am the only one capable of such meanial tasks as opening tins etc, tends to reveal my real lowly status.

  2. I am similarly puzzled by the “puffed-up toad” titles, especially when I am asked for my own title in those little boxes one must fill in to receive info via a Web site. I feel like the recipient wants to see a managing director or at the very least an SVP when all I am is an independent business owner who represents other PR business owners. Maybe it’s best if we all looked at each other the way our pets look at us, sans title: the object that delivers a can of food and one good rub a day. (Caroline, the next time you go to the car showroom, bring a bag of dog food — OK, premium dog food — and a bristle brush and see if a feed and some strokes make the salesman feel as good as announcing his fancy schmancy title.)

  3. We’re all managers now – it’s not just PR – I recently spoke to a guy in a car showroom who was a ‘manager of sales’. When I looked round all his colleagues were similarly enobled.
    Everybody likes to feel valued in what they do, so I don’t think it matters too much. Frankly I can’t wait for the ‘press officer’ tag to die, because it confirms the widely held view that PR is only about media relations.

  4. Title inflation in PR is, in my humble opinion, a global tendency. People is eager to show off and having a fancy title just does it; being a PR Executive seems not to be enough so you add the word “Senior” or “Chief” and your ego is boosted. Then, of course, your boss is the Head of… or the Managing Director of….
    Now, I wonder… with too many Heads of and Chiefs of and Senior Prs… aren’t we delegating too much to our “lower ranked employees” without really taking responsibility of what we can actually do with the skills and experience we have independently of the title we own?

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