Is public relations having a crisis of confidence? Are we missing out of something? Is it time to integrate other disciplines or can we remain PR purists?.... Wait a second! Are these really the right questions to be asking?
Perhaps we should instead focus our attention on why, as PR professionals, are we asking these questions at all? And what happened to our confidence in our industry?
On the 14th of November, Alice Weightman CMPRCA, CEO & Founder of The Work Crowd and Chairman of the PRCA’s Independent Consultant’s Group, chaired an expert panel to discuss the age old debate of the sustainability of PR and in particular what this so called ‘crisis of confidence’ means for the independent community.
Industry experts who joined the panel:
ON THE CONFIDENCE OF THE PR INDUSTRY ‘
There’s this beautiful irony, that as PR professionals, who are meant to be great at positioning brands, we’re struggling with our own brand positioning. The line between PR and marketing is blurred. We need to be comfortable operating between those blurred lines, so that we have this concept of PR without borders.’ - Brendon
‘I’m always amazed by the negative perception that comes with PR. As a client, I don’t care where the good ideas come from. I just want good ideas that can be executed; and on selecting an idea that has originated from another part of the marketing mix I don’t want to hear, ‘it’s not PR-able’ with seemingly no effort to make it so from my PR partners.’ - Abby
‘It’s madness that PR should ever be siloed away to the side. PR is at the forefront in terms of communicating with our consumers. We have such an opportunity to reach our consumers in a compelling and authentic way, more so than any area of the Marcomms industry.’ - Alison
‘Part of this problem is the degradation of media relations as an important skill. Media relations can sometimes be looked down upon as something just for junior people to do. Actually getting someone to write about you, that isn’t paid, is actually a really creative test to how good you are.’ - Brendon
‘I recently attended a meeting with a content agency, and they provided all this background and research, including an SEO and digital PR offering, and charged for the package. I think PR could do more to really sell that kind of offering, when most of the time we give it away for free. I don’t think we’ve been good enough at really showing the value of our PR skills.’ - Anna
ON POSITIONING OURSELVES AS INDEPENDENTS
‘Ultimately it’s about getting something out to our audience, whether that’s through an event, or content, media relations, so having that comms expertise is the best way to position yourself.’ - Alison
‘Passion flies off the shelf. There’s a place in the world for communication blackbelts that can do everything to a high standard and there’s a place for people who are truly passionate and brilliant at doing specific things.’ - Brendon
‘It’s about having a conversation with the people who have actually chosen to work with you, listening to the words they are using and not doubting yourself.’ - Abby
‘Our knowledge and ability that is second nature to us, should not be taken for granted. You need to value your skills and charge for them accordingly. Clients don’t know how to do it, and that’s why they are coming to you.’ - Anna
ON ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND THE FUTURE OF PR ‘
After reading ‘Second Machine Age’ there are two things crucial to our jobs that robots will never be able to do - come up with creative ideas and communicate complex things. Things two things are inherent to what we do, so I think we’re safe.’ - Brendon
‘The more skills you have, the more you’re worth, and the less replaceable you are.’ - Brendon
ON SELLING OUR TRUE VALUE AS INDEPENDENTS
‘Some agencies are charging for what PR’s would call a pitch. Which makes me think as independents, we’re missing out on something! But it’s all about how you package it. And be confident. For example, call it something like an audit, you need to give it the right name.' - Anna
‘Be confident. If they wanted to work with a big agency, they would have gone to a big agency! Remember if they come to you as an independent, they needed something different to what they’ve been doing.' - Abby
‘An agency, doesn’t do a thing without charging. So you need to think the same way as independents. The PR industry has had a long standing ethos of, ‘its fine, we can over-service’. We need to push this barrier, and make sure we are charging for what we’re worth.’ - Alison
‘Have the statement of work and the deliverables, and be very, very, strict. Don’t forget the ‘if it changes clause’, and apply the same rules as agencies when it invariably does.’ - Abby
‘I did this experiment. When we approached client, we told them what we can deliver, but also told them we don’t do competitive pitching. Some people are ok with this, others are not. I just pursued the ones that were, and the clients we have won, have been from a non-competitive pitch.’ - Brendon
WHAT CAN WE DO FOR OUR INDUSTRY?
‘Remember, we are public relations and everyone does public relations every day. What we do is crucial.’ - Alison
‘What other industry shortens the name of what they do? We have been talking about it as PR, we need to just talk in terms of Public Relations. Public relations is timeless and if we just did a better job about talking about what it stands for, we’d be in a better position.’ - Brendon
‘We need to keep educating ourselves, there are so many tools out there we can utilise to add benefit to the work we do. Most importantly, it’s crucial that as PR professionals, we don’t undersell our expertise.’ - Anna
The Work Crowd is committed to supporting the careers of the freelance community and will continue to chair events like these in 2019. If you don’t want to miss out, sign up to our newsletter and feel free to drop us a line with topics you’d like to see in the year ahead.