Bravery isn’t just a thing for children, adulting isn’t that easy sometimes!

Being brave in PR

In public relations, I feel like we’ve always acted like the poor relation to advertising, moaning about budgets, always coming second for advice, never a seat at the boardroom table, time poor and over-stretched. Well, I’m here to tell you to be more brave. I talked at PRFest in June about being more brave, how we call out unethical practice, about how we push forward and are seen as a valuable asset within organisations.  Now, I’ve been prompted once again, to tell you take responsibility and stand tall.  Not only to be more professional and take pride in your own development, but also to carry on questioning and standing up for what is right, even if it seems tough!

Three things have prompted this blog post:

  1. A Twitter conversation around planning and evaluation, which resulted in another PR practitioner saying I’m “lucky” to be able to say ‘no’ to clients
  2. Jenni Field at the CIPR Inside conference using my very phrase, ‘be brave’
  3. A DM on Instagram from someone asking if I had reported him to the Advertising Standards Authority

Let me take each example and discuss:

#1 The tweet – I had joined part of discussion on Twitter on the back of PR Week’s post by Richard Bagnall, asking “Are PR pros planning to fail because of failing to plan?”.  I stated that I was fed up hearing of “my clients/organisation won’t pay for that, so we don’t do it” in relation to research, planning, measurement and evaluation. My point was, I say no to clients who say they don’t want me to spend time doing the most important of my work. I mean COME ON! Then this person said I was lucky, to say no to clients. I responded saying that I wasn’t lucky, I had worked very hard to get where I am today and if I have to stick to my guns, so I work with a) the right client for me and b) clients understand it’s an essential part of my work, not a ‘nice to have’. My argument is that we need to be braver at leading clients, rather than rolling over and letting them dictate, especially if we’re being held to account and are expected to demonstrate a ROI. It’s simply not possible without the front and back end of work.

#2 Jenni’s point at the conference around people’s reasons for not logging CPD points. I responded saying that some agency heads say their teams automatically do the work so why formally log it? They don’t agree it should lead to anything and is part and parcel with their job. But these are also the people who don’t believe in professional body membership such as CIPR or PRCA. We need to be braver as an industry at having frank discussions with people who are so against professional development being formalised, so there is a) a better understand of the resistance and b) so it may open up opportunities to bring more people into professional development, as a result of better understanding.

#3 I got a DM last night from a creative PR/party PR and Instagrammer whom I know, not very well, but well enough. He messaged to ask if I had reported him to Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). I said “NO” and pointed out that I had messaged him about some insta stories I had questioned whether or not they were ads, he said they weren’t, we then had a discussion about work and he invited me to an event, the next day! So, when I got “Did you report me to ASA???” with no niceties about it, I was immediately taken aback. I didn’t in fact report him because he told me the posts weren’t an ad. BUT SOMEONE ELSE MUST HAVE SEEN THEM AND THOUGHT THEY WERE (the same as I had)!! I mean come on. He then sent me a screen shot of another post I had questioned a few weeks earlier. Again, to me it looked like an advert for a brand. He didn’t respond to me about that one. Apart from the fact his approach was down right rude, even if I had reported him, I had every right to, if I knew it was an ad (which I didn’t). Plus, the fact I had approached him first, got an answer, is enough for me. I’d rather question something then offer advice (like I did with Lauren Pope and Louise Thomson FYI), than just blatantly report someone. My point is, that I was within my right to call him out or question him. I won’t stop doing it, either. I don’t do it in a rude way, either.

I’m pretty clear on my feelings on the above and will not shy away. I want other PR practitioners to be braver and stronger, too. It’ll demonstrate your professionalism, it’ll demonstrate you’re a leader and it’ll take our industry forward not being the poor relation!

So, who’s with me on being more brave?!

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. I feel better for having written it all down and I’m hoping it’ll resonate with you. Please do share on your social accounts if can. I’m sure others may take comfort in reading some of my thoughts.