The children of the boom….

The Internet boom was a period of excess that we’ll probably never see at the same scale again… hopefully.

If you worked in PR during that time, and in particular technology PR, it was at once both amazing and scary.

Technology companies (and PR) moved center stage, money was no object, fees went through the roof and although I’ve no data to prove it, I imagine the number of people employed in Public Relations swelled to unknown levels.

The aftershock of the bubble was severe. All of a sudden, to quote my CEO, someone found the gravity switch and turned it on.

Layoffs, agency closures, salary reductions and changed expectations were the order of the day and in 2004 we’re still in recovery mode.

As Jim Horton observes:

“It was a pity society misled so many into thinking they were going to do well from the beginning and rise to riches. What happened in California was a Gold Rush and like the original Gold Rush of 1849, it lasted five years until most went bust. I suspect the class of 1999 has a hard-earned conservatism about money and lifestyle. It was and is much needed and not so bad. How many SUVs do we need on the road anyway?”

One of the major trends of this has been the advent of a new generation of sole PR practitioners and small firms who are building successful careers and businesses offering targeted services.  But what about the graduates who emerged during the boom and accepted it as the normal business environment?

The Associated Press has a sobering article that looks at how graduates of the boom have been managing in a tough economy.

The Boston public relations firm where she interned during her senior year promoted Erk to a full-time employee. It was 1999, the economy was booming, and Erk’s higher-ups told her she’d be a vice president in a few years.

But the past five years haven’t brought slick suits or a corner office. By 2001, Erk found herself unemployed and struggling to make her rent, pay her utilities and feed her cats.