The director of communication for No 10 resigns and it sparks extensive media coverage about what is taking place. It follows from a Sunday Times article at the weekend that highlighted a contract with a PR agency to support part of Government. I am not going to delve into either of these stories because you will have read a lot about them already. What I am concerned with is when the communicators become the story which is rarely a positive experience.
When the media talk about PR and communication professionals it is never a good thing. While they are many thousands of people working in the industry and doing amazing work helping people through the pandemic, supporting those in need and working to build businesses they never get mentioned.
For many years I have tried to find ways to explain what I do to friends and family. It isn’t easy as most communicators will know. I used to say that I deal with the media enquiries that my former work received because that seemed to help some people to understand. Now I say I help organisations that need to prepare for, or are facing a crisis. It is usually followed with the question – how? That can lead to a long conversation where I get quite animated and they get bored very quickly.
As professional communicators we are not good at explaining what we do. My worry is that the more it becomes a little understood profession, the more people will take their references from those national media stories that they see. What we have to do is find a way to put the spotlight on the important work that is taking place and is helping communities. It is only by doing that we will be able to start to change the impression of what we do.
My 25 years in PR has never been like Absolutely Fabulous or The Thick of It. I have never been to glitzy events or drunk copious amounts of champagne. The work I have been involved with is about real people and their lives, and helping those in need. It may not be glamorous or easy to explain but it is something I love and see making a real difference to people.
Let’s all find a way to put the spotlight onto the important PR and communication work that is taking place and is the real face of the industry.