There’s a great Twitter account called Very British Problems. It’s a parody of our nation’s eccentricities. And it provides some amusing ‘translations’. So…. "That didn’t turn out exactly as planned" equals "that was a complete ClusterCuss". A phrase those who’ve seen Fantastic Mister Fox will recognise, and that the rest of you can translate for yourselves.
What to say to silence a room full of Brits:— VeryBritishProblems (@SoVeryBritish) July 14, 2016
"Do we have any volunteers?"
Since the momentous events of 23-24 June, that’s a sentiment I’ve heard many times from PRCA members. OK. Some PR practitioners welcomed the result. Some even predicted it. But PRWeek’s survey of Power Book members before the Brexit vote showed 80 per cent in favour of remaining in Europe, and a PRCA snap poll of a couple of hundred of our most senior members after the result found most were disappointed. In fact, that word doesn’t do their feelings justice. Appalled. Dismayed. Aghast. Furious. Unbelieving.
But raging impotently against the dying of the light of the UK’s membership of the EU leads us nowhere. So what do we as an industry, and the PRCA as its main representative professional body, do now?
I’d say we do three simple things:
- We see what the industry thinks.
- We see what the industry wants.
- We make the industry’s voice heard.
The first has been achieved already. We know the great majority of our industry think the referendum went the wrong way, though a small minority (albeit including some very senior people) think the opposite.
The second stage is where we are today. We are asking UK PRCA members and the wider industry what they want from the settlement reached after Article 50 is invoked. We need to know their views on employment law; on access to the single market; on freedom of movement; on relations with the rest of the world; on the impact on the UK’s status as one of only two global hubs of PR excellence.
And we need to reach outside the UK too. Through the PRCA’s leadership of ICCO, we will be asking the 2,500 agencies in the 48 countries under the ICCO umbrella for their views too.
And then having taken the industry’s temperature, we will relay those views back to the political classes who, depending on your perspective, landed us in this mess; or handed to us this deliverance. We will make the case for the most PR industry-friendly outcome possible. One that enhances rather than damages international work; that creates the greatest opportunities for our young, vibrant, industry professionals; one that allows the creative talent of the UK PR industry to achieve its fullest destiny.
And one final thought. Suppose – a supposition I fervently hope to be false – that in the future the industry grew by only two-thirds of its annual rate over the past decade? That would still mean we grew by six to seven per cent every year. By almost any industry’s marker, that would be a phenomenal rate. By which I mean this: even if the effect of Brexit is negative, ours will still be an industry of choice. An industry that is Brexit-proof.
Francis Ingham is director general of the PRCA