I've been hearing lots of hints lately to suggest that PR people in the public sector feel at some disadvantage compared with their colleagues working in the private sector. (The suggestions make it sound like like it's an envy of larger budgets and also an inability to innovate and take risks).
I'm still puzzling over this perception, but here's one possible explanation.
Successful private sector business tend to adopt a market-orientation. The more customer-focused, the argument goes, the more successul will the enterprise be for all stakeholders (shareholders, employees etc). This market-orientation gives a clear focus to efforts, and leads to some simple and definitive measures of success (like sales).
Compare this with the more confused stakeholder orientation in a public body, trying to balance many different interests without any simple outcome measures.
But I can see an immediate flaw in this argument, because public relations within a market-orientated business is a less rounded and less strategic activity (ie marketing communications) than public relations within a stakeholder-orientation (where it's usually known as corporate communications).
Add to this the effects of the recession, which have to date mostly been felt in the private sector, and I remain confused as to root of this apparent insecurity.