Agony Uncle: Trevor Morris

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

Trevor Morris
Trevor Morris

Healthcare and financial PR look future-proof

I recently graduated and am starting my career. Looking into your crystal ball, where do you see PR’s future in terms of regions and specialisms?

The biggest and most sophisticated countries for PR are the UK and the US and I am sure they will continue to grow, albeit no faster than the host economy. But the really rapid growth will be in the emerging democracies such as India. Where democracy grows so too does PR as political parties, NGOs and businesses battle to persuade people of the desirability of their point of view or product. (Non-democracies, such as China, have rather less need for PR as they can always use coercion rather than persuasion.) The markets with the most growth potential must be healthcare, closely followed by finance. As people live longer they will need more healthcare, and they will also need more savings and financial advice. As for specialisms within PR, I believe digital will be as mainstream as print is today. I suspect some of the most exciting PR work will be in behavioural economics and ‘nudge’ theory.

A negative appraisal leaves three options

Some of the comments made by my boss at my appraisal are unfair. What should I do?

So you have been criticised and don’t like it. Who does? Basically, you have three options. First, you can take the criticism as justified and try to learn from it. Second, you can take the criticism as a matter of opinion. An opinion that you don’t share, but which you aren’t going to be able to change in the short term, so you either leave, or learn to live with it while you patiently try to change it. Last, you can take the criticism as untrue and based on no, or false, evidence. If you can prove the criticism is wrong, you should. But remember, attacking your appraiser can be like a bee sting… it hurts the stung body, but it is the stinger that dies. It might be healthier to leave now.

Charities must learn to live in the media glare

I’m deputy head of comms at a charity and increasingly I think the media and politicians have got it in for our sector. What can I do about it?

Time was when people trusted charities because they were seen as altruistic – unlike businesses, which are seen as in it for the money and politicians who are seen as in it for the power. But some charities are increasingly looking and sounding like a bizarre corporate/political hybrid and are being treated accordingly. If you constantly attack the Government you end up sounding like an opposition political party – think Oxfam attacking austerity. And if you pay your bosses top-flight salaries and are less than transparent over service failures you look like a corporate. What the media are doing – some would say belatedly – is holding charities to account in the same way as they have politicians and businesses. Charities need to get used to media scrutiny. It isn’t comfortable but is part of modern democracy.

Maybe we need a dress code of practice

My boss wears skinny jeans, visible Calvin Klein pants and Converse trainers. He is in his forties and has a figure to match. Can anything be done?

Yes. I believe both the CIPR and the PRCA take cases of members bringing the industry into disrepute very seriously.

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