Peter Walton


Social media hikes PR job satisfaction

October 07, 2013

By Amy Robertson

Thanks to the 24/7 demands of social media, Vancouver public relations professionals are working longer hours—and they don’t seem to mind.  

A survey of more than 100 communications, marketing and PR professionals by Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies found more than half of respondents were working more—especially after hours. And among those surveyed, 84 per cent say their job satisfaction has either increased or remained the same with more social media responsibilities. 

“What we found surprised us,” says Peter Walton, who directs the PR program and oversaw the research project and report. “We figured people would be frustrated by the increased demand they’re facing because of technology. We were wrong.”

Megan Rendell, an SFU Public Relations Certificate graduate who works as a community manager at Vancouver-based Village&Co., says: “My work hours have increased due to the use of social media. Working in social media marketing, you have to be constantly active and connected on your client’s behalf. 

“Often, I'm connected at home in the early mornings, evenings and on weekends to monitor my client's social media platforms for engagement, and manage online initiatives. I have to admit, the flexibility of my role, and company, is definitely a perk. The benefits are that I can literally take my clients with me anywhere—my home office, a café, or on a trip out of town. I recognize that few can say this about their jobs, and may not want to, but it's something I enjoy.”

There are other benefits to using social media, such as having direct access to an audience.

“You don’t have to go searching for anything physically,” says Sasha Perrin, an SFU PR graduate who works at Hill+Knowlton. “You know what’s happening—you have the entire world at your fingertips.”

According to the survey, most respondents work at organizations with policies regarding how social media should be handled after work hours. Among those who don’t have policies, half voluntarily monitor social media activity after work hours themselves.

Walton secured funding from TELUS to produce a video based on the survey results, which began airing this month. Walton’s team also produced an infographic.

“Social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon,” says Walton. “It’s helpful for us to know how it’s affecting people—and we’re happy to find out most see it as a welcome addition to their job toolkits. This kind of research is key for us—we want to make sure our students have the most current training possible.”