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February 6, 2013 Transcript of #CommsChat on diversity in PR

Last week, we were joined by representatives from the CIPR and PRCA, both of whom have initiatives aiming to alleviate the obstacles facing PR industry jobseekers. The CIPR’s Diversity Working Group was represented by Alex Louis (@commsnetwork) and Matt Cartmell (@mattcartmell), comms director at the PRCA which recently launched its Diversity Network.

The debate ranged from the problems with internships and unpaid jobs to qualifications in PR to the steps already taken to alleviate these obstacles.

Some highlighted tweets below:

@commsnetwork PR has to be seen as a viable ‘professional’ career if some BME groups are to take it more seriously as an option

@MattCartmell weve been fighting for interns to getthe minimum wage and have signed up 80agencies to do this

@StephenBeynon Someone should do a TripAdvisor-type site for internships.

@PhilM_CIPR Personal view but if you do a days’ work you deserve a days’ pay.

@BridgetAherne cultural perceptions – in a BME house it was all about getting into a ‘noble’ career: dr, nurse, solicitor, teacher.

@cornucopuia If we don’t make intenship a meaningful experience with true value, potential talent wil be lured elsewhere

And the full transcript:

 

  1. So, it’s 9pm. The end of tonight#s CommsChat. Thanks so much to our two guests 

  2. RT : Diversity better in the charity/public sector – how do we even it out across all of PR?  

  3. Agreed  (Hi Phil) – would love to see greater visibility of IC in universities/schools as career option 

  4. The visibility of the profession is a major issue for new entrants – something we should work on through schools and universities

  5. RT  writing skills are so important but often ignored 

  6.  I don’t think they ‘need’ a degree but gravitas is important-anything that reinforces this can only be a good thing

  7.  Massively under-rated. I used to work for a networking guru; he taught me a whole lot. 

  8. Diversity better in the charity/public sector – how do we even it out across all of PR? 

  9.  writing skills are so important but often ignored

  10. Think we need to promote more positive role models in PR. It’s a skilled job – we’re not all spin doctors 

  11.  Definitely benchmarking of in-sector PR standards. Compare and contrast! 

  12.  I used to choose one a week for an internal ‘award’ – never at a loss for a winner! 

  13. Do they need a degree? Does a PRO need ‘gravitas’?Do they need experience? WE move the goal posts and game on. 

  14. Get more role models into schools, spread a better understanding of PR and career paths, help employers to reduce/remove barriers

  15. I always log on when  is almost over. Must do better next time. The topics always fit where I am at

  16.  Making diversity, outreach, community engagement part of the industry, including in sector-award schemes etc

  17.  yep I can send our 2011 pr census made with prweek 

  18.  Very true!…Customer service is the new PR & savvy consumers nowadays know the look & feel of a good PR.

  19.  Good news! Happy to hear that these schemes still work well – Congrats to everyone! 

  20. RT : How people first come across PR is important. Need to make ‘first encounter’ demonstrate its depth and breadth.

  21.   Great to hear! I’ve seen some pretty badly written press releases over the years – also seen good ones 🙂

  22. we want to devise real practical solutions rather than pay lip service. thats why Tanya Joseph and Robert Phillips are in Network

  23. Couldn’t find a job in radio after degree, took some freelance work on a PR campaign, rest history! Had to look PR up in library

  24.  came across it purely by accident after doing a teaching degree. Still here 13 yrs later though and doing ok

  25. RT : How people come across PR is important. We need to make that first encounter demonstrate depth and breadth.

  26. MT  Good to see writing being listed as important skill -often missed in favour of SM, strategy-basics important >agree

  27.   really?! We wouldn’t employ anyone who couldn’t write – it’s a core skill. Needed for all aspects of the job

  28. How people first come across PR is important. We need to make that ‘first encounter’ demonstrate its depth and breadth.

  29. Topic 5 What is yet to be done to ensure the steps forward are carried through? 

  30. so, lots of talk tonight, but as we move into the final ten minutes lets tackle topic 5 

  31. MT : I knew about media industry from high school. No one ever introduced PR  > same. Learned later, post Uni.

  32. T4: I think we need to get better at showing people how PR is a career where they can use skills/talents they already have

  33.   Good to see writing being listed as important skill – often missed in favour of SM, strategy-basics important

  34.  any figures on diversity, it’d be interesting to see them 

  35.     I knew about media industry from high school. No one ever introduced PR 

  36.   I have found that organisations expect the experience to be there.  

  37. RT : If anyone is looking for an IC mentor, do let me or know because Im sure we can match you up

  38.   True! Wondering why they call it internship? On the job trainings are far more effective & relevent!

  39.  there’s much in that – nepotism an issue in lots of places, but we can use that if we reach out to different groups

  40.  diversity is about mixing up the pot and means you can be from any background 

  41. RT : If anyone is looking for an IC mentor, do let me or know because Im sure we can match you up

  42.     plenty of interest in PR career from students we see – more to be done in schools tho 

  43. weve placed around 50 apprentices sine the prca scheme started and had excellent feedback 

  44. RT : mentor/sponsor/rolemodel important especially in early years to help you with those important career decisions

  45. If anyone is looking for an IC mentor, do let me or know because I’m sure we can match you up 

  46.  good writing is important. And a willingness to learn. Can teach the rest. 

  47. having a mentor/sponsor/rolemodel important especially in the early years to help you with those important career decisions

  48.  yes and use skills of the industry to show how open it can be 

  49. Thanks, Annemarie 🙂 RT  I dont see why not. IC exp seen as massive value

  50.  more training on the job should be available. Too many internships advertised require you to already know everything

  51.  IoIC do mentor scheme when IC pros undertake diploma. I was matched in 09 + still do even though student finished

  52.  I had a fantastic mentor Jane Hammond FIPR – brilliant, only interested in how keen I was, lots of responsibility

  53.  I think greater connection between industry & education, & ambassadors with varying exp levels/ careers integral

  54. MT :Like to see @CIPR_UKgeographical/sectoral groups help fund internships  >meet PROs networking events for students

  55.  its all about offering an entirely new route off access and apprenticeships are v succesful with employers 

  56. RT : Im actively looking for a mentor to help me move forward, but its quite difficult.  has been great 

  57.  Interesting you say ‘backgrounds’, ‘class’ can be more powerful/influential in hiring decisions than race 

  58.  I’m actively looking for a mentor to help me move forward, but it’s quite difficult.  has been great 

  59.   I would definitely getting involved in that side of things. I’d to be a mentor in the future 

  60.   would love to see great agencies like and  collaborate on work placements to boost diversity

  61.   Do you think students share good experience more often or the bad ones? 

  62.  Absolutely! Can add it to the list next to ‘How do you get people to comply with your IC process?’ 🙂 

  63. When recruiting, or even taking on students, we don’t look for PR qualifications. We want writers, multi-taskers, enthusiasm

  64. A good time to move onto topic 4 – Topic 4 .How do qualifications or apprenticeships ease the obstacles facing PR hopefuls?

  65.  ‘recognising value of IC/PR’ – whole new topic 🙂

  66.  so we could develop a list of positive pr role models for use in local media, school appearances etc 

  67.  Really trying for it. It’s more about the recognition of its value. At the moment, its just seen to ‘happen’! 

  68. A3) I loved  when at school, am sure there are opportunities for comms pros to get involved as mentors

  69.  Isn’t it the two go hand in hand? Choosing a profession within a good place maximise success & productivity; value! 

  70.  wasn’t aimed at them, but perhaps your students could talk to others? 

  71.  i guess once youve started a degree then the heart and mind was already won. its before then that;s hard 

  72. Just passed halfway, so quick nod to our sponsors arguably the best comms ipad experience 

  73. : what we really need to do for interns is create a meaningful experience for internships that adds real value

  74.  Most people employing IC specialists want experience over quals – can you push for more IC? 

  75.  actually getting people from a range of backgrounds who have broken into the industry in the last 2-3 years 

  76.  many schools would be v. keen to showcase viable employment opportunities for pupils, but they need us to offer!

  77.  Thanks, Rachel 🙂 I’m back! Hope you’re well.

  78.  My roll is not 100% IC so pushing for development in that area to make it high priority is hard. 

  79.  Hi Tom, glad you see you came back for a second week 🙂 

  80.   Best PR is authentic, transparent and honest. 

  81.  Providing enough qualification that taking ‘a course’ in IC/PR will develop my skills in the right direction… 

  82.  the connection between  &, as well as schemes such as  really helped me 

  83.  research can’t have polled students on PR degree courses in the region  

  84.  Think about core skills of PR, not about the qualifications or lack thereof – be prepared to people train on the job

  85.  An interesting one. Is training in PR for existing non-PR’ers seen as valuable? I’ve hit barriers this week… 

  86. RT  Id like to see if the geographical and sectoral groups to help fund internships.

  87.  People stay with organisations because of people & meaningful value they get from their work, then money comes in.

  88. A3) Can you define access problems pls 

  89.  Loads – hold me to a blog with some ideas 🙂

  90. MT  agreed – process of explaining what PR needs to begin in schools, best place to meet diverse groups

  91. CIPR publish their research on 22 Feb, check  for details 

  92.  I do find some of the language very divisive. Not a criticism but can see how some may feel pr less inclusive

  93.  I’d like to see if the  geographical and sectoral groups to help fund internships.

  94. RT : If we dont make intenship a meaningful experience with true value, potential talent wil be lured elsewhere

  95. Hi  and . Jarrod – welcome to your first one 

  96. Key point – IMO RT :That’s evident in our research -PR as a profession -we have some way to go with some communities 

  97.  agreed – the process of explaining what PR needs to begin in schools, the best place to meet diverse groups

  98. OK Topic 3. How do employers tackle the access problems in the PR industry when hiring and providing opportunities for training?

  99.    Education is very important!…Future of brands depends on right & relevant eduction.

  100.  first time getting involved, seen some great discussions previous weeks  

  101.  absolutely. However quotas aren’t the answer. It’s about the right talent hiring the right talent. 

  102.  yes, especially FE – lots of real talent there

  103.  That’s evident in our research – PR as a profession – we have some way to go with some communities 

  104. MT : I think agencies/ Comms teams need greater connection to local education. Some great examples in the mids!

  105. If we don’t make intenship a meaningful experience with true value, potential talent wil be lured elsewhere 

  106. RT : what we really need to do for interns is create a meaningful experience for internships that adds real value.

  107.   I think agencies/ Comms teams need greater connection to local education. Some great examples in the mids!

  108. We also face competition from the tradional professions

  109.  agreed but the financial support – orlack of – is issue no 1. 

  110.  I think clients need to play their part in that too. Agencies need to pitch with diverse teams 

  111.  cultural perceptions – in a BME house it was all about getting into a ‘noble’ career: dr, nurse, solicitor, teacher.

  112.  There are some really good business/leadership in schools/colleges progs. Perhaps scope for PR element/tie-ins?

  113.  yup, all the motivators an employee would expect from an employer. Creates a learning culture… ideal for interns

  114. Evening all, catching up now. Note to followers – am in for next 35 mins. Join in here:  using: 

  115. RT : what we really need to do for interns is create a meaningful experience for internships that adds real value

  116.  oops seem to have started something here! bear in mind we were talking to students not considering PR as a career

  117.  so should we go down the route of holding agencies to account for their lack ofdiversity? 

  118. recently met a 5 mnt unpaid intern for big int agency. agency wldnt touch oil, arms, tobacco etc but happy to take slave labour

  119. what we really need to do for interns is create a meaningful experience for internships that adds real value 

  120.  truly understand equality, impact of oppression, diversity etc. Simple words, very very complex meanings

  121.  a forum to discuss the issues and proof of diversity having an ROI would be a good start 

  122. Also we want many peopleinvolved in the network. email me on Matt.Cartmell@prca.org.uk to get the details 

  123.    sorry can’t hang about. Need to nail a speech for tomorrow.

  124.  we had a student in last week doing a PR degree. Interesting to compare her theory to life in an agency 

  125.  reality is though that internships in PR vary so wildly that for some it’s hours of tedious work, little learning 

  126.    question sample. PR students at Newcastle and Sunderland surely want to work in PR? Check with @cipr_ne

  127. the first Prca Diversity Network is meeting on 26 feb. does anyone have ideas for proactive ideas to open up the industry?

  128. Perhaps on Linkedin. RT  Someone should do a TripAdvisor-type site for internships. 

  129.  It is a concept I have had to get used to quickly or else I do not get any work experience!   

  130.  unpaid internships are a big issue. Poverty a big issue in uk and no income creates additional barriers. 

  131. Absolutely. RT  Personal view but if you do a days work you deserve a days pay. 

  132.  agree with that – but PR-ing the industry is always a challenge, especially with terms like ‘spin doctor’ etc 

  133.  PR does need PR and we’re not great at doing it on ourselves 

  134.  Personal view but if you do a days’ work you deserve a days’ pay.

  135.  Quite! Perhaps that’s our challenge. Doing more to find and promote talent already in the industry. Q is how I suppose.

  136. I was quite happy to be an unpaid intern, just so I could get the experience. Rather that than sit at home twiddling thumbs

  137.  Someone should do a TripAdvisor-type site for internships. 

  138. RT : The CIPR has also launched its own CIPR Internship and work placement toolkit 

  139. The concept of unpaid internships must seem farcical to socio-economic groups who feel society already takes advantage

  140.  just can’t think of any decent role models at this precise moment! 

  141.  it is but I get lots of enquiries so would be surprised if it was northwest 

  142.  Training is a real issue – think profession – think degree – and there aren’t many about in PR 

  143.   that’s a good point – the job can vary hugely depending on sector, agency/in-house/location etc

  144. The CIPR has also launched its own CIPR Internship and work placement toolkit 

  145. RT : theres something about the diversity of PR itself – finance, health, sports etc. understanding diversity of PR

  146.   CIPR produced guidance for interns and for employers in 2012 – helping interns to ask the right the Questions etc

  147.  someone like rachel bell from Shine is a great role model. v talented and from an unpriveledged background

  148.   that’s true. You guys all have the skilks to promote and sell your sector. Perhaps PR needs some PR? 😉

  149.  yes exactly – perception is that PR example is Max.

  150.  there’s something about the diversity of PR itself – finance, health, sports etc. understanding diversity of PR

  151.   Hi all, i’m Neil, in-house PR. Agree that promoting wider PR role models from across sectors would help

  152. Topic 2 – – What has been done by professional bodies to address the issue of interns and training? 

  153. Lets move to topic two, and back to the point we touched on earlier

  154. : so, lack of role models, unpaid interns, ignorance of profession, employer conservatism – any other obstacles?

  155.  wondering if  is watching – sure he’d have something to say that no-one frmo NE interested in career in PR

  156.  on that note, who is a good role model? Think most people think Max Clifford if you mention PR – not ideal. 

  157. weve been fighting for interns to getthe minimum wage and have signed up 80agencies to do this 

  158.  actually that should have been northeast, but still worrying – 

  159. RT : think a large percentage of the population in general wouldnt know what a career in PR involves. Its not Ab Fab

  160. so, lack of role models, unpaid interns, ignorance of profession, employer conservatism – any other obstacles? 

  161.  DWG met with some recruiters in 2011 – also an issue for them, but they say clients wishes come first 

  162. RT : its not just about BME, also revealing not one person from the northwest considering PR as an option

  163.  you mean from the NW of England? that surprises me  

  164. . think a large percentage of the population in general wouldn’t know what a career in PR involves. It’s not Ab Fab

  165.  yes unpaid internships are a major problem hence prca campaign 

  166. RT : 70% say were unfamiliar with what a career in PR involves – 56% of the BME sample unfamiliar with the professn

  167. But for me, it’s not just about BME, also revealing that not one person from the northwest considering PR as an option

  168.  due to very exposed nature of role, you cant offer EEs “a chance” to prove themselves or settling in period 

  169. presumably it goes beyond usual barriers. Cultural expectations etc. And, as with class, unpaid internships dont help 

  170. 70% say they were unfamiliar with what a career in PR involves – 56% of the BME sample say unfamiliar with the profession

  171. but even things like geography and recruitment approaches have major impact 

  172.  employers want EEs with PR experience for their teams due to nature of industry! 

  173.  it’s almost always interesting – not sure I’ll have much to contribute this week though. 

  174. I think that, for someone already working in comms/PR, it’s seen as an addition to your skillset not ‘your skillset’ 

  175. its opportunities, attitudes, among lots of other reasons

  176.  looking forward to reading contributions. I enjoy following  🙂

  177. Isn’t it the usual barriers, few role models, no access, not given career advice  

  178.  but please tell us about the research you’ve just done 

  179.  Don’t know if I will have much to contribute but will be observing discussion closely 🙂 

  180.  excellent – my attempt to stir things up on the subject o f diversitydisastrously backfires – 

  181.  PR has to be seen as a viable ‘professional’ career if some BME groups are to take it more seriously as an option

  182.  Padraic here, Internal Comms Consultant with Vodafone Ireland. 

  183. Going to be watching  for the next hour on diversity in PR. Do mute if not interested. I’m Rachel, account director at Maxim.

  184. RT : Ive been looking at research commissioned by CIPR DWG into why more BME students arent considering PR,

  185. Evening everyone from  subject of interest to us 

  186. Actually – I’m a ‘girl’! 

  187. Alex, Matt, let’s kick off with our first topic – What are the obstacles prohibiting access to the PR industry? 

  188. I’ve been looking at research commissioned by CIPR DWG into why more BME students aren’t considering PR, lots to talk about

  189. welcome guys – and they are both guys, as am I – Im andrew thomas publisher of Communicate magazine. a short intro is always good

  190. Good evening, everyone! Looking forward to reading your thoughts.

  191. and Alex Louis, the vice-chair of the CIPR’s Diversity Working Group –  

  192. Hi, I’m Alex Louis, PR consultant, Verve Communications Associate currently working with two other BME consultants in the NHS

  193. we’ll be joined by Matt Cartmell, communications director of the PRCA –  

  194. so its 8pm, time for commschat. a big welcome to otnights guests

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