#PRsUnite after 10 weeks

When lockdown was announced, like most other PR firms and agencies, I lost work.

I still had work but I needed to change my own strategy in order to survive the initial change. This included moving my training online, meeting with clients virtually and re-thinking the PRFest event.

During my re-thinking I started to listen to my fellow PR colleagues and they seemed to be struggling. I actually felt like my own industry needed some hand holding, so with my cheerleader pompoms, I decided to throw some time into using the PRFest community as a catalyst for conversation. For checking in with PR and communication colleagues and for offering support if required.

#PRsUnite was born in the first week of lockdown.

Since the first week, I developed a unique format and offered the flexibility for anyone to join and a welcome to all new faces.

I kicked off by welcoming people, then running through some great resources for people to tap into. Some from CIPR, PRCA, useful articles and podcasts worth noting. Then asking “how are you this week?” It’s amazing by asking a simple question how it can help people a) know you care and b) let off some steam or honestly say how they are feeling. The thing was, most people were in the same boat.

There was no agenda to the hour-long hangout, as the conversation naturally flowed. From what the US was doing, how Greece had used mobile tech within 24hrs to how we, as an industry had an opportunity to underline the value we add to organisations.

#PRsUnite was a concept to keep things positive, to keep people together and to show solidarity for an industry which was clearly facing a really challenging time. Many of the people who wanted to come to #PRsUnite couldn’t, as they were on shifts or on the front line of communicating through the crisis. But we were still there. Our conversations flowed from the #PRsUnite zoom, onto Twitter.

In fact, one of the things I’m grateful for, after having set this up, is that I got to meet some amazing new PR colleagues from overseas and I got to get to know many more closer to home.

We really do have a fantastic PR community.

After week 2 in lockdown, I had peaked. I was finding it a bit much, and it was all brought on by shopping for two lots of neighbours, my Mum and for my own stuff. I was surprised how it just hit me one night. Then, week 8, people seemed to be melting down on Twitter and going for each other. It was horrible to witness. People seem to forget that everyone is entitled to an opinion, whether you agree with it, or not, and you aren’t always right!

Again, I spoke about it in #PRsUnite and people had been experiencing the same, so I didn’t feel like I was going mad. The sense of camaraderie between us was lovely to both be a part of and watch as people made links and new connections. That’s one thing PRFest has done. As a community it’s made people more accessible.

Industry collaboration

On the third (maybe fourth) #PRsUnite there were representatives from both CIPR and PRCA – I assume were interested in what was happening. I was talking about our industry and what a strong opportunity we had to come out the other side with a new shine, and the gusto to go and make our mark. I suggested that as an industry, we should be collaborating together, to work on an industry-wide campaign, which positions public relations as the strategic leadership function it is (and should be). I suggested that CIPR and PRCA should get their heads together and discuss how we can unite and work together, for a stronger future. I didn’t have the answers to how it would work, but I did suggest they should start the conversation, involve us if need be and think of how the campaign could be framed for maximum impact. (I think I mentioned this in a PRCA meeting, too).

You see, if there is one thing this situation has reinforced, it’s the power and strength of communities and collaboration.

So what do you say? Who’s in?

The future of #PRsUnite is entirely at the choice of the community which meets each week. People come and go and that’s cool! I always chuckle when someone messages to say sorry they can’t make it. I’ve had some lovely messages of encouragement from people though, saying it’s the highlight of their week. It’s like a virtual team. Some of it’s a bit self help, but some of it is analysing and debating. You’re welcome to join if you’ve not come before, if you work in PR. Just subscribe to the PRFest emails to get the link.