Public relations professionals expect a growing demand for PR positions in the future, according to the Hong Kong Public Relations Professionals Association. Despite the weak economy and corporate downsizing in almost all sectors, a large number of respondents to an association survey have not experienced downsizing either in their functional department or organisations. About a quarter of respondents did see their companies downsize last year. Respondents came from 'PR services' and 'corporate in-house PR/corporate communications/advertising/marketing departments'. The association received replies from 257 practitioners, about 12 per cent of an estimated population of more than 2,000 practitioners. Two-thirds of respondents were from industries, including the government and public sectors, financial services, transportation, education, utilities, manufacturing, retail/distribution, non-profit, and professional services. The remaining third were professionals working in PR consultancy. Though the profession might be perceived as a glamorous one from the outside, practitioners needed to put in a lot of hard work and time into their job, with stress an important factor. Working 40 to 60 hours a week is an industry norm, while working over 60 hours and weekends is also a common practice. In particular, the PR consultancy, financial services and transportation industries require their executives to work long hours. On future development of the sector, practitioners called for more independence. The professionals strongly felt that PR should be a stand-alone function within companies, reporting to chief executives, and should have more strategic influence among management and on corporations. Respondents would also like to see public relations receiving professional recognition. Taking a step further, the practitioners said professionals should go through a proper accreditation process to further enhance their professionalism, knowledge and competencies. They also expected local universities to offer more relevant academic courses for the profession. Respondents also indicated an interest in exploring opportunities in the mainland, but physically moving and relocating to China did not seem to be a compelling priority. Hong Kong still provided most opportunities and there will not be an immediate brain-drain problem in this area, the survey found.