Agony Uncle: Trevor Morris on CVs, management consultancies and late payment

The co-author of PR Today and Richmond University's professor of PR gives it to you straight

Election campaign fail

As a student I worked on the disastrous Labour election campaign in 2015. How should I refer to it on my CV, if at all?
Succeed or fail, working on an election campaign is a valuable bit of experience, so you should definitely put it on your CV. Perhaps add in brackets: "I learned a lot of lessons in what not to do." It is proven that you learn more from mistakes and seeing things done badly than you do from working in a successful well-oiled machine, so make the most of it. Any recruiter worth their salt will then make their first question: "So what were those lessons?" A question you should be able to answer easily.

Is PR turning into management consultancy?

I have been told that the future of PR is to make itself more like management consultancy and that I should make the transition while I’m still young enough. Do you agree?
The threat of the management consultants nicking PR work has been talked about for years, but there are very few actual examples. It is probably true that some of the sharpest young brains go into management consultancy or the City, not least because the money is so good. However, PR is about persuasion, which requires empathy, emotional intelligence and sometimes creativity. These are not the strong cards of management consultants.

The right kind of university

I’m studying for my A levels but know I want to work in PR. None of the universities my teachers and parents have recommend offers PR courses – and they advise against me going to the sort of universities that do offer them. What do you recommend?
One of the great things about PR is that it is open to PR graduates, non-PR graduates, non-graduates, career changers, work returners and anyone else who has the right skills and attributes and is prepared to learn and train. So whatever you decide you should be all right. It is true that Russell Group universities – the ones I imagine your parents and teachers are promoting – don’t offer PR. But those universities were also sniffy in the past about subjects like business, marketing, sociology and even politics. I suspect that your parents’ real objection is to PR, not the universities that teach PR.

The ethics of late payment

I am a one-man band owed money by a firm that claims to be ethical. Ironically, they always pay late. What can I do?
Any organisation that says it is ethical but habitually pays late is a liar. Late payment is a vicious circle that starts with big boys bullying smaller boys. Firms that claim to be ethical but don’t pay interns are also liars. Sadly some firms that like to make grandstanding statements on ethics don’t practise what they preach. A principle isn’t really a principle until it costs you something. Paying promptly and paying interns costs you something. Saying you are ethical costs nothing. What can you do? Unfortunately not much – unless you are prepared for your dislike of late payment to cost you future business from your ‘ethical’ firm.

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