I have lived all my life based in the North of England. I love it and am really proud of this part of the world. My parents moved up to Manchester from Gloucester more than 50 years ago and they made it their home and have said they never had a desire to go back.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t dislike anywhere as I know people have strong feelings often of support to where their roots are but I often wonder if I have missed out because I kept my base in the North?
It often feels that way when the majority of senior communication roles seem to be based out of London. The majority of conferences are in London and main meetings to discuss the future of communication are in London.
In recent years I have spent an increasing amount of time in London. Most of the time I don’t mind it and quite enjoy the hustle and bustle even the tube journeys. But in 2018 as we are trying to increase diversity in the industry is this really sending the right message?
There have been a number of reports in recent years trying to quantify how much parts of the country have lost in terms of funding and support. A few weeks ago one from think-tank IPPR North identified public spending in the north had fallen by £6.3 billion since 2009-10 but at the same time spending in the south had risen by £3.2 billion. What could this mean for the PR and communication business?
It could be hampering our attempts to increase diversity by curtailing the opportunities within many communities. It can certainly cloud our discussions about the future if the industry as we come from one perspective. I always remember a comment from a London PR agency bigwig that went ‘that may be what happens in the provinces’. I found it both shocking and hilarious at the time and even now reflecting on it.
As an industry we can be really judgemental and dismissive of work that happens outside London. We have committees and awards that are focused on the regions but it can sometimes feel like a token gesture. There is amazing PR work that goes on around the country both agency and in-house and in all sectors. We need to start to recognise this if we are to move forward with a strength through diversity.
As 2019 is on the horizon we need to redouble our efforts for diversity so we are an inclusive industry with a diversity of thought borne out is the difference.
Agency PR and any other service industry only need to be London based if that’s where their clients are based and want them to be based. The only agency I’ve worked in was London based because 65% of its business was global business and those corporates were London based. As a client, I was London, Brussels, or Paris based and I hired agencies based in those cities to support my teams based in those cities. My country teams all hired locally depending on where they were based, not always in capital cities. Agencies are service businesses and just need to be wherever their clients want them to be. To my mind locations are largely irrelevant, just convenience driven.My experience of working internationally in PR is that most people who have international responsibilities have no idea which country they are in or care.
Thanks for the comment. The discussion nationally for me still needs better diversity to take us forward