PR can be a scary place for the young

We need to support young people in the industry to retain the best talent

Francis Ingham: PRCA director-general and ICCO executive director
Francis Ingham: PRCA director-general and ICCO executive director

Last month, we held a rather inspiring event, #WhenIWas25, simultaneously in London, Glasgow and Manchester. Industry leaders take the stage to tell young PR people where they were at the age of 25.

The stories were fascinating, touching and occasionally hilarious. One agency boss spoke of a fateful PR campaign for Diamond White, when they hunted down (and found with great ease) the most "up for it" girls in Ibiza. Another recalled dressing a poodle up as a supermodel for client Pot Noodle, and provided the packed room with the sage advice: "If you don’t already know, it’s very hard to get a poodle into fishnet stockings."

But one point resonated across all the speakers – the uncertainty that many young people can feel during those first tentative steps into the PR world. Even the ultra-successful people on the stage said they wavered and considered other careers, while many entered PR completely by accident, and wondered what they were doing there. PR can, at times, be a strange and scary place.

The PR Census 2013 in the December issue of PRWeek reveals that ten per cent of people in the industry are between the ages of 18 and 24, with four in ten of them having been in the industry for less than a year. We can assume that many will feel a degree of trepidation at this point.

As well as attracting the best talent to the industry, we must also ensure that we retain the best – and that means understanding their concerns, problems and issues.

To that end, next year we are relaunching our Frontline groups – the PRCA groups based in London, the Midlands, North West and Scotland, which aim to bring together those at account director level and below. This process was kick-started by the #WhenIWas25 event, and will lead to us rebranding Frontline, giving it a less warlike tone.

If you have an idea about what it should be called, email our groups manager binta.hammerich@prca.org.uk or tweet it to @PRCA_Frontline. The best name will win a full-day PRCA training course of the winner’s choice, which is worth up to £375.

We will also be focusing on sharing best practice among our younger members, with a series of simultaneous events and a fresh approach to supporting young PR professionals. In addition, we will be inviting our PR apprentices to join Frontline groups.

So if you’re an account director or below, or a PR apprentice, and want to connect with others, get involved.

Francis Ingham is PRCA director-general and ICCO executive director

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