London, 05 March 2015
Like many of you reading this, I’ve been reading a lot lately about the dire state of the PR profession and, frankly, it’s been getting me down.
Quick story to blatantly show my age.
As a super-keen student deciding what to do with my life, I got on the Leeds to London train to the CIPR Graduate Careers Day. In 1995. Gulp. I vividly remember leaving the hotel that day completely besotted. I was full of energy and brimming with ideas, information, brilliant campaigns and a complete clarity that PR was the career for me. Working with smart people, business leaders, the media, coming up with ideas to sell to people – it felt like if I could get paid to do this job, it would be a bonus.
Fast forward 20 years and to the latest findings of the State of the Profession Survey that I’ve been reading about in PRWeek. Everyone is stressed, there is an unjust and glaring gender pay gap, we’ve seemingly stopped wanting to learn new stuff and work towards professional standards. We should be ashamed of ourselves. Life is bad in PR. I paraphrase of course, but you get my drift.
In my own circle of peers, mates and colleagues in the industry, this is not something I recognise. Here’s my view, and it’s slightly more positive.
I have learnt more in the last 18 months than I did in the last 18 years. I see more opportunities for PR to add value to organisations than I have ever done since writing my first press release in 1995. Clients brief us to do things they would never have done a few years ago. Colleagues are desperate to learn new skills and tools to expand their horizons and future-proof their careers.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have the occasional moan. It’s not all plain sailing and some people still don’t value or understand what we do sometimes. The nuances, the pressures, the responsibility. But then again, most professions – lawyers, accountants, architects, doctors – would say the same on a bad day. There are so many super-switched on, progressive PR professionals who are working hard to make sure they are relevant, current and indispensable to their organisations.
So maybe we should just get on with it. And smile occasionally at the fact that we do get paid to do this amazingly creative, diverse and rewarding craft.