‘Mobile’ – the future of PR, but not as you think26th June, 2019 by James Brown
Diversity in PR – undoubtedly one of the most discussed areas of our business, yet the needle on our overwhelmingly white, able and middle-class industry appears to be moving at a glacial pace.
Often attention is focused on race, sexual orientation and gender – especially in the boardroom and on the payroll – but less so on broadening entry into PR from beyond the public-school alumni.
Casting my mind back to mid-2010, a recent graduate in post-credit crisis Britain and working two jobs to fund an unpaid PR internship, I was taken on at Richmond Towers Communications (as it was back then) on a six-week paid internship. There was promise that it was going to get better for a state school Northerner dreaming big down south – and nine years later here I am, associate director at R&T overseeing our dynamic Drinks Group.
However, despite pledges from the government, PR industry and broader business landscape things really haven’t got better in general for those looking to climb the ladder into professional life. In fact, recent research from the government’s social mobility commission is pretty damning – social mobility has been stagnant in the UK since 2014 and entry into professional jobs is still largely dependent on our parents’ careers.
We all understand the value of diversity for creativity, innovation and experimentation – this is the lifeblood of PR and what we as agencies sell to our clients – so why is the industry not moving quickly enough in terms of social mobility?
Since I joined the business in 2010, I have witnessed and contributed to a culture of openness, inclusivity and diversity in terms of recruitment. We have introduced an apprenticeship scheme, hired those that skipped university altogether and pay our work experience support the London Living Wage – all in a bid to ensure we cast the net as far as possible to get the best person for the job, and the results I’ve no doubt are contributing to our industry-leading client retention and award-winning work.
But there is a still a long way to go. The challenge to our white, able and middle-class industry remains valid – we just need to remember that sowing seeds of all sorts across our businesses by encouraging applications from a more diverse talent pool is a sure-fire way to grow creativity from within.