Industry Voice: PR must do more to reflect the society it seeks to engage

What's better than a birthday party to celebrate the PRCA turning 50? Well, how about a birthday party with a purpose?

The PRCA is working to change the industry's composition for the better, says Francis Ingham
The PRCA is working to change the industry's composition for the better, says Francis Ingham

At our anniversary celebrations, we announced our big new project: a UK-wide schools outreach programme, to explain and extoll the virtues of PR as a career to young people who might not naturally think of our industry as being right for them.

Year after year, via the PRCA UK Census and the ICCO World Report, industry leaders tell us that talent is their number-one issue. And, year after year, they tell us how hard they find it to reach out beyond their well-established recruiting grounds.

Our outreach programme is aimed directly at addressing these linked issues. The concept is simple: we will create a structure to help practitioners visit nearby schools. (And we’re not thinking Eton and Roedean – we’re thinking schools in deprived areas.)

When they do so, it will be with engaging content to explain what PR is, and how open, welcoming, and rewarding it is as a career choice.

Why are we doing this? Our 2019 Census showed that 89 per cent of PR professionals identify as white. The status quo is inexcusable and our industry must do more to reflect the society it seeks to engage.

We’ve worked hard to broaden the talent pool over the past few years: our Partner University programme has been highly successful in getting employers in front of undergraduates and post-graduates via our guest lecture series.

Our intern work helps young people to identify the very best employers, who are committed to treating their interns well.

And our management of the government’s PR apprenticeship programme has ensured that our industry welcomes entrants without degrees – people who previously simply would not have joined our ranks.

This schools programme is the final piece of the jigsaw and will be sustained over the coming years, a new and central part of the PRCA’s work in representing the industry – and changing its composition for the better.

The reaction has been incredibly warm. Fifty agencies and in-house teams have already signed up, working right across the country. Schools have contacted us directly asking to be included. And we intend to use our relationship with the LGA, LGComms and the GCS to amplify our endeavours.

We will launch the programme on 2 March 2020, the first day of National Careers Week. Ahead of that, we will be creating hard copy, video and online content for participants to use, and putting together the initial programme.

You don’t have to be a PRCA member to volunteer. All you have to be is a practitioner with a passion for the future of our industry.

If you’d like to take part, drop my colleague Koray a line at this address: Koray.Camgoz@prca.org.uk – you are guaranteed a positive response.

Francis Ingham is PRCA director-general and ICCO executive director

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