By 'diversity', I mean not only that of people included in the profession, but also the diversity of skills and attributes demanded of modern communications professionals themselves.
This latter definition of diversity is just as important because the former aim becomes even more necessary.
It is absolutely vital the PR workforce becomes more diverse. And there is little doubt that senior comms roles are evolving to embrace disciplines that may once have been considered peripheral, even separate, to classic public relations.
These disciplines include public affairs, employee comms, corporate brand identity, social media/customer relations and content marketing.
We have identified and interviewed a handful of client-side comms leaders from very large organisations to gauge the extent and pace of this evolution.
These professionals hail from a diverse range of backgrounds and sectors – from construction and finance to social media – and therefore are ideal barometers of change; they’re close to the c-suites of FTSE-size organisations, which in turn are also facing and embracing shifting priorities.
It is tempting to put all this down to the turbulent 18 months that we’ve been through; the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter-fuelled movement towards greater social change. There is little doubt these developments have turbo-charged transformation in society and the corporate world. Nevertheless, the underlying trends existed beforehand.
Our group of senior in-house comms leaders report changing and expanding remits, with more emphasis on public affairs as government takes a larger role in society, including business. And, of course, with the aforementioned societal change employee comms is high on the agenda.
Organisations of all types are hungry to learn how to better relate to all their various stakeholder groups. They are also hungry for the sort of talent showcased herein.
The future of public relations has never offered more opportunities, although we may need to rethink our perceptions of the profession itself. Certainly, the future has never looked more diverse.