We need to be global citizens in order to be successful in PR

There's a lot of talk around our industry these days about diversity, and it is good and right that we are collectively trying hard to force ourselves out of our British, white, middle-class straitjacket.

You need to be a global citizen to be great at PR, argues Will Hart
You need to be a global citizen to be great at PR, argues Will Hart

But it is surely equally important to avoid the trap of insularity being set for us by politicians currently (and in one particular case, terrifyingly) now in the ascendency on both sides of the Atlantic.

As a Kiwi living in London I passionately believe that a truly open-minded outlook has never been more critical.

However I also worry that the diversity debate is in danger of remaining unwittingly trapped inside a closed 'us versus them' narrative, residing exclusively within the confines of British society.

Our wider society - and our industry, specifically - clearly has significant issues, and our lack of diversity is absolutely one we must address.

But let us not be misled into simultaneously turning our backs away from the wider world beyond our shores.

The red-hot US tech unicorn, Snap Inc., announced recently that it is setting up a new global HQ in London because it believes in our creative industries.

The most critical ingredients making creativity such a potent force here in London run exactly counter to insularity.

One is a willingness to embrace a much wider and borderless diversity than the current debate allows.

Another is a recruitment policy that has deliberately sought talent from the rich pool of non-native talent that comes to London from across the world, attracted by the cultural and professional buzz here.

It will always be incumbent upon those of us with the ability to make hiring decisions to be totally blind to all forms of prejudice, but the smartest PR agencies in 2017 are those remaining especially open to employing bright people from outside our own realm.

In fact, it has been my experience that those from foreign lands who have the bravery and self-confidence to make the journey to London and seek employment in our industry are usually outstanding hires.

They're endlessly curious and solutions-focused, simply because such a mindset has been essential fuel for their journeys from the familiar at home into the unknown UK in the first place.

In other words, the outsiders we bring into our PR agencies (often from EU countries) personify the multi-faceted approach we need to adopt to deliver true value for our clients.

Our work as PR consultants is based wholly on teamwork, and the best teams are those built on as much difference as possible to make a greater whole, while being led as a unified force to achieve shared objectives.

Or, to put it another way, to be really successful in UK-based PR we need to be loud and proud global citizens, seeking greater diversity within our industry while making sure that the diversity we embrace reaches outwards to take in talent from the wider non-British world, regardless of anything disingenuous our politicians may say.

Will Hart, deputy managing director, Nelson Bostock Unlimited

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