With the help of an expert judging panel, PRWeek has identified 30 PR professionals aged under 30 who have already achieved great things or show fantastic promise, and gathered them together at the Shoreditch office of marketing and technology agency DigitasLBi.
As well as a photoshoot, it was a chance to get to know our young PR stars and discover what makes them tick. In the following articles - part one, part two and part three - we profile all 30, delving into their own experiences and their expectations. We also asked them for their predictions on what the PR industry will look like in 2030.
Before the meeting, PRWeek asked our talented twenty-somethings how much they agreed with different statements about the industry on a scale of one to five (five being strongly agree, one being strongly disagree).
The first finding is they overwhelmingly enjoy their vocation. Asked if the PR industry was an exciting industry in which to work, the average score was 4.9, with all but four giving the top mark.
Taking the pulse of 30 Under 30
Question/average strength of agreement (out of five)
I am optimistic about the future of the PR industry - 4.1
The PR industry understands the needs of my generation - 3.8
The PR industry is an exciting industry in which to work - 4.9
The training on offer in the PR industry is up to task - 3.4
The PR industry offers good career progression - 4.3
"The ever-changing nature of our communications landscape means the PR industry is constantly developing to stay relevant," says Joanna Crawford, senior account manager at Cicero Group. "This makes it a very exciting industry to work in because there are always new challenges."
Christopher Onderstall, associate director at FleishmanHillard, says: "Few other professions allow under-30s in the boardroom." Others agree – asked if the sector offered good career progression, the average score was 4.3. Aggregate Industries head of comms and sustainability Oliver Jones believes: "This decade should belong to professional communicators. I’d expect to see CEOs popping up in the near future who have been head of comms/corporate affairs."
However, asked if the sector understood the needs of their generation, the group were less positive, giving an average score of 3.8. "I don’t think many industries set up by the baby-boomer generation get the under-30s," warns Fishburn consultant Thomas Morris. "The financial crisis is just an event to them. For us, it’s shaped everything."
There were also reservations about whether training was up to task; the average score for that question was 3.4. Jones says: "Too often people outside our profession see it as a ‘soft-skill’ profession that anyone could do. Upskilling those within PR – not just as experts in their fields but as experts in wider business – would pay dividends."
Overall, when asked whether they were optimistic about the future of PR, the average score was 4.1. While being short of overwhelming, and despite some reservations about specific areas, it points to a general feeling that the future for the industry is indeed bright. For our group of high achievers, this could not be more true.
To enter, candidates had to be nominated by their line manager or equivalent, or in some cases by a client, via an online entry form on PRWeek.
The Judging Panel
PRWeek would like to thank our panel of judges for their work:
Gay Collins, founding partner, Montfort Communications
Jim Donaldson, UK MD, FleishmanHillard
Jo Dring, press and PR manager, corporate relations, Heineken UK (formerly of PRWeek’s 29 Under 29 list)
Nicola Green, head of comms and reputation, Telefónica UK
Francis Ingham, director-general, PRCA