Public Relations: Brazil x United States

Are there any differences?


My mother language is Brazilian portuguese. If you see any grammatical error or something like that in this article feel free to suggest corrections. Thanks.

I am always curious how Public Relations are seen in another countries of the world. I heard and read rumours about Spain, saying that PR are overrated. But are only rumours, I can't assure.

What really drives me curious is the situation of the profession in the U.S., especially because articles like this. It's a Forbes list about the most valued jobs in 2013. Public Relations managers appears with an average income of 95 thousand dollars a year, which gives something about 16 thousand reals (Brazilian coin) a month . I went into a research to know more and checked the PRSA website (Public Relations Society of America). The lowest salaries are something near 50 thousand dollars a year. That got me thinking "what are we doing wrong in Brazil?".

Obvious we have to put aside social-economic questions from Ivy Lee's country. But I don't have any doubts that a Public Relations manager isn't gaining even near 16 thousand reals a month in Brazil (or 95 thousand dollars a year).

So, I got in touch with a Public Relations Pro from U.S., because nothing is better to know from someone who lives the real situation. I talked to Rebekah Iliff, who I follow here at Medium and Twitter. I strongly suggest that every PR go check her articles, because are full of insights and professional tips.

Just to be clear, I wanna say that my questions had the objective to know about contextual differences, if there are or aren't. The professional activities are the same all over the world. In the next paragraphs I show the Q&A, and made some analysis in between.

1. Here in Brazil we can be a Public Relations Pro by getting a bachelor degree. In the USA you have to first get a communications bachelor degree, and then doing some sort of post-graduation in PR?

Rebekah Iliff: while there are bachelor degree programs for Public Relations, many professionals choose to employ various areas of study during undergrad including Communications, Marketing, Creative Writing and Journalism. Students will often accept PR internships while they are obtaining their degrees to bolster their real world experience and identify which area of PR they might want to work in full time.

Analysis: the question was driven to know the education level of PR, to identify if the professional are more prepared in the US than Brazil. But the level is the same. The american students try to identify better the area of work they want. Here in Brazil we have internships as well and the only difference I noticed was about the under areas of study. Very interesting what she told about Marketing, Creative Writing and Journalism. I see that in Brazil we are much more connected only to corporative communications.

2. Here in Brazil the common assumption that people make is that PR Pros only work with event planning, production and execution. They don’t know that PR are communication strategists. So, the jobs and activities of a PR Pro here are basically to do that. How is this matter in the U.S.? What is the most common activities for a PR Pro there? Do other people know well what a PR Pro does?

Rebekah: unfortunately this stigma and stereotype is pervasive in the U.S. as well. At AirPR, we are working incredibly hard to not only shift the conversation about PR’s role in business, but also educate companies on how all encompassing PR is. Here’s a great list of common misconceptions about PR. And here is a chart that outlines the actual different practice areas of PR and weaves together complementary skill sets and metrics. It’s a great point of reference for helping clients understand the many, many facets of the PR world.

All credits to 8PRPractices.com

Analysis: I think that was made clear that some problems are usual in Brazil and in the United States, especially about the misconceptions about the professional activities of a Public Relations. It's our responsibility to take care of this issue.

3. Here in Brazil happens to have a sort of a competition between PR x Journalists x Publicists. One wants to take the job of the another. Something like that happens in the U.S.?

Rebekah: what we are seeing is the fleeing of journalists both to the PR industry and to brands (where they act as internal news editors and content marketers). Journalists are outnumbered by PR flacks by an astounding 4:1 and the demand for quality PR has never been higher. Though PR pros value and vie for the attention of journalists, I do not know many who would want to transition into media. On the contrary, we are seeing many journalists move into the PR space.

Analysis: I don't know which are the proportion between PR x Journalists in Brazil, but I can picture that our friend from media are much superior in absolute numbers. We lost a lot of space to Journalists, especially in press office. I don't want to get into the discuss about who is best in this position, but the ugly truth is: Journalists are being much more competent in this market share.

With this Q&A with Rebekah Iliff was made possible to see that we have much in common with our American brothers and sisters. Maybe others PR Pros have a divergent opinion about such topics shown here. If you are one, say your word. I will be very pleased to discuss more about our differences and similarities. I don't pretend to get wrong conclusions about this, so the only thing a have left to say is: the development of Public Relations is our concern. Then, let's get to work!