An account executive whose latest job move fell through due to the COVID-19 outbreak has set up an initiative to help match unemployed comms professionals with organisations during the pandemic.
Nic Young, who most recently served as an account executive at Frank, had secured a new job at a large group agency, but the onset of the global public health crisis had scuppered the move.
Young is one of thousands of PR professionals to have found themselves suddenly out of work and with poor job prospects in the short to medium term due to an industry-wide freeze on recruitment.
Although some firms are still hiring for highly specialised roles, PRWeek understands the comms recruitment market has substantially declined, with many agencies and groups hitting pause on new hires and furloughing staff in an attempt to ride out the abrupt economic slow-down.
Young has responded to the personal blow by setting up Look After, an initiative that aims to connect comms professionals with businesses and charities that need communications help but can't afford the usual agency rates.
After incorporating the company, Young revealed the venture in a LinkedIn post, with a call to comms professionals and businesses in need of support to get involved.
The post has received 30,000 views and attracted 200 interested professionals, with 75 formal applications to join.
Young told PRWeek he had already received multiple client leads.
“To be honest, while I knew there was a big issue that needed to be addressed, I hadn’t fully grasped the scale and severity of the situation,” he said.
“The number of people who have been in contact saying they are in a similar position to me was a shock, as was the variety of experience levels. I had assumed this was an issue for juniors, but it’s now clear that everyone up to heads of departments and directors of agencies are being affected.”
Look After works by matching a network of professionals that offer services in PR, social media, marketing and event-planning to small businesses and charities affected by the coronavirus pandemic for free.
This will also give unemployed professionals the opportunity to gain valuable experience and keep busy while between jobs.
Young said once Look After has helped clients struggling during the crisis, it would expand the offering to other businesses for a small fee to cover employee costs. Any profits that are made will be donated to coronavirus relief efforts.
One PR professional interested in the concept is Jazz Rehal, a former director at Weber Shandwick.
“These are unprecedented times and we are all impacted by COVID-19, it doesn’t discriminate,” she said. “What will make a marked difference is our ability to lift each other up, and that is exactly the ethos of Look After. I’m excited about getting involved and ensuring we do everything we can to lift people, businesses and communities.”