Often over the 19+ years I have worked in public relations, I’ve advised clients not to go ‘boom’.

A consistent explosion of their business or indeed them personally, regularly in the news/press/online, across multiple channels/platforms of whatever, will only lead to people getting bored with you or draw attention to you when things go wrong. There’s a fine balance between remaining front of mind and just monopolising.

It’s boring when the same people are quoted, talk at events, on podcasts or bang out blogs with nothing new in them, on top of seeing their tweets, Facebook posts and have emails clogging up inboxes. In fact, it’s exhausting seeing it all.

It’s also boring hearing the same opinions banded about in a bubble. I like hearing lots of views (mainly to help inform my own view) and the reason I follow 3500 people on Twitter is to hear that, not just a select few. PR people often talk about an echo chamber and to be honest, PR people often talk in echo chambers – especially those who are on committees etc. I’ve been guilty in the past, too. I can’t blame algorithms completely, cliques do exist.

Now, the good news is that you stop buying, you can mute, unsubscribe, unfollow and delete, but, I think the whole point is that no-one wants a boom and bust approach.

Think of the conversation we’re currently having around diversity. Is it not better to have more voices input or represent an industry or a company? You can’t surely be an expert in everything? Is it time to consider moving over and allowing the next generation a chance, too?

A bit of reflection

Right now, with everything that’s happening, I’m re-thinking volunteering, sharing my ideas, what my purpose is in public relations and generally, considering the future of my work and development. The future is not going to be ‘normal’ for anyone. The future is going to be about re-imagining life and work with COVID – not just moving things online.

The more I think about lots of things happening around me, the more convinced I am that I am 100% in the right place, with the right experience and skills, to advise clients on developing their businesses. Not just through pictures and words, but by using my mass of experience, by humanising brands and being a critical friend, by putting purpose at the heart of its efforts, and most of all, leading with my head and my heart.

Over the last few months, I’ve achieved the following:

  • Re-thought and re-programmed a face-to-face event, to being online and to extending the event from one to two days
  • Developed a package for businesses to ‘Re-think, Re-Engage and Re-Ignite’ out of lockdown
  • Started and run weekly #PRsUnite hangouts for my own industry (now twice a month rather than weekly)
  • Worked with clients on a monthly basis to analyse their data and to advise on next actions – this is crucial as things are changing at pace. We cannot have a 3-6 month plan right now. The broader strategy can be set, but activity cannot
  • Have used my Risk and Scenario Planning model regularly
  • Taken on new consultancy work
  • Spotted new business opportunities for others
  • Came up with an industry-wide idea and talked it through on PRsUnite – sadly taken and used by someone on the call and no credit given
  • Have worked with industry and tested ideas, finally ending in the DRIVEN Pledge launch, which is a free tool for PR agencies and teams, to use as a framework for setting their own diversity and inclusion goals and some tips on how to achieve them (plus held two events in the lead up which are available on video)
  • Chair the CIPR Fellows’ Forum
  • Chair PRCA’s Scotland group
  • Work on developing #PRFest ‘s model (exciting plans coming!)
  • Started doing more video and LIVE social media activity (and trying not to worry about looking perfect)
  • Divising and launching the CIPR’s free mentoring scheme, Progress (plus helping inform the plan for stage 2!)

I suppose now I look at the list and see what I’ve accomplished in five/six months, plus the outcomes of my client work which I haven’t even mentioned there, I can be pretty happy with this, although note all the voluntary work I don’t get paid for (I need to rectify this!). I get angry when people steal my ideas and are sneaky about it, but that’s to be expected when businesses are struggling and people are desperate (or is it?). I started a whole other conversation about IP recently, and I think I’d like to revisit this as an industry discussion – IP on sharing ideas, proposals, pitches etc. (Let’s see if this is pinched, too).

I don’t often blow my own trumpet, not like the people going ‘boom’, but sometimes it’s important to make a list and look at it for what it is.

I don’t often write negative posts, and this is more a post about sharing my thoughts and learnings, but sometimes you just need to share what’s happening and how you’re thinking, as I encourage clients to be human and honest, so must I.

I’m feeling good about the future and excited about new plans bubbling away, plus I am loving my clients just now. I’d like to put myself forward to talk at events, on podcasts (other than my own) and maybe I’ll do that soon, or feel free to ask me to speak at your business event.

Things I can talk about:

  • building communities
  • building a personal brand
  • being a trusted advisor
  • risk, reputation and the role of public relations
  • re-imagining business models
  • saying no
  • turning challenges into opportunities
  • being a consultant and building a network
  • the ideal consultant’s toolbox

It’s been quite nice to write this post, actually. Whilst it’s a bit negative, it shows how things can be balanced, handled differently, and I think if we all just remember that we are all human, there are many of us out there and we are all in this together, we’ll come out and be ready for whatever lies ahead.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. There’s a lot of content out there just now and I’ve tended to record podcasts (over on People Buy People if you want to check it out), so that I’m not doing the same thing everyone else is doing. Blogging weekly or even more is a thing of 10 years ago I’d say.

I think part of my future is using my podcast as my voice. I’m in charge then. I can talk about what’s important to me, or to my clients, and I can challenge things. So hop over to your favourite streaming app and subscribe to my podcast. I promise no episode is the same!

Until next time…