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Archive For 'July, 2012'

A better way of working: unlocking the potential of PR parents

27 July 2012 at 12:24

“Nearly half of working mums are thinking of leaving their PR jobs” was the headline finding of research published by recruitment firm Hanson Search earlier this month, as reported on PR Moment.

Whilst the headline may sensationalise the issue, the full results of the Gender Balance Survey, which was undertaken in association with the CIPR, should be taken seriously.

Over 550 people (men and women) in the communications industry were surveyed and findings revealed:

• 9.4% of employers felt they had serious reservations about hiring women aged between 30-40 years old fearing they would, at some point, fall pregnant
• 62% of employees felt that they would be discriminated against if they were to become pregnant
• 49.3% of respondents have observed issues or problems among colleagues directly related to their return from maternity leave, such as difficulty with flexible working hours (64.6%), reduction in perceived status (59.9%) and negotiating part-time employment (53.2%)

It was further revealed that 48.5% of women would consider seeking employment elsewhere if such issues concerning flexibility were not addressed. What’s more, 13.4% of senior female employees plan to quit the industry in the next two years if employers continue to deny flexible provisions for those wishing to return from maternity leave.

This trend is worrying for agency owners and PR professionals alike. People in their 30s and 40s typically have ten plus years’ experience, and they are a valuable asset to the industry.

But does balancing parenthood with a career really have to be such a minefield? If both sides are prepared to communicate and get creative about working practices it is possible for working parents to make full use of their professional skills without compromising family life.

The Trailblazer PR business model is a case in point. Most of our consultants are parents – and thanks to our flexible home-working culture they can combine excellent PR careers with parenthood very nicely. Many of the consultants previously held senior roles in city agencies and have either relocated to the South West or decided that it is the commute (not the actual working hours) that interferes with work-life balance at traditional agencies. Whilst we are headquartered in Stroud, consultants are based throughout Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol – they attend meetings when needed, but otherwise are free to choose their own hours and place of work.

In many traditional agencies, there is a myth that if you work part-time or from home you can’t operate at a senior level. The belief is that you’re just not around enough to be available for clients and colleagues when they need you. Our consultants understand that they need to be able to interact with clients and journalists during business hours, but other than that they can complete their work as and when they want to. OK – they may sometimes find themselves sending emails while waiting at the school gates or with a toddler hanging off one arm. But is it really any different to responding to clients on the hoof when you’re out at a meeting?

The beauty of the Trailblazer PR model is that consultants are allocated roles based on their skills and expertise – their family circumstances are irrelevant. They can operate at the same level as they would in a traditional agency and continue to progress their careers. What’s more, they are generally able to meet – or exceed - what they would earn pro rata in a traditional, permanent role. In most agencies, part-time hours tend to only be an option for lower-paid roles, not for top table senior positions.

Of course, flexibility and trust are central to this arrangement. But if both the agency and the consultant are honest and transparent – and committed to make the situation work - there is no reason why flexible and/or home based working can’t be a win-win situation.

People with children may not want to be tied to a desk from 9-5.30 every day. But this doesn’t mean that they can’t make a valuable contribution to the PR industry. If more agencies could look at flexible and intuitive working practices, it could unlock a whole tranche of talent and expertise that is too often put to one side once children are on the scene.

As the PR Moment article says: PR is an industry based on conversation and engagement – so why doesn’t this happen at a senior level for women considering having a family?

Quite.

 

What are your thoughts on this issue? We’d love to hear them.

Over and out…

Tags: Hanson Search | CIPR

Posted in Friday Rambles | Reviews | No Comments

Friday ramble: A bit more American, a bit less British

20 July 2012 at 13:25

Friday ramble: A bit more American, a bit less British

We seem to be in full swing business award season at the moment. Whether it’s local, regional, national or industry business awards, there seems to be a constant stream of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn updates full of awards pictures and winner information from events across the UK.

Is it me or, as the years go by, are we as businesses becoming more confident when it comes to shouting about ourselves and the good things that we are doing? And is this a good thing? Well, my opinion is, yes!

Some say it’s very American to ‘big up’ yourself and that it could turn some customers off. I say, it’s a crowded market place and therefore, from a customer point of view, it’s about making your voice heard. Going for business awards is part of this. The associated marketing and promotion that goes with being shortlisted – or winning - is invaluable from a PR point of view.

We are still in tough economic times and, more than ever, customers are being more savvy about the companies that they choose to buy products and services from. They want more from brands. Whether it’s better customer service, more environmental credentials, innovative products etc. For many customers, a company being a recognised award ‘nominee’ or indeed ‘winner’ is the tick in the box that’s needed for the sale to proceed.

Part of the work we do day-to-day is researching and discussing specific awards with our clients. Having long term relationships with a lot of our clients means that we can take much of the leg work out of award selection and nomination for them. We are their PR agency and therefore have our fingers on the pulse when it comes to their businesses marketing and PR.

And due to our experience of assisting our clients with creating award-winning nominations over the past 8 years, we are often asked to advise businesses on pre-written nominations. Questions such as ‘does my nomination contain all of the information that the judges might be looking for?’, ‘what supporting information is needed?’, ‘how should I present my information? etc. are often asked and we can respond to these quickly.

The common reason that I believe companies don’t go for awards is due to being concerned about it being ‘a waste of time’ - especially if they aren’t shortlisted.

But believe me when I say that gathering information on specific aspects of, or people in, your company is never a waste of time. When it comes to PR this information can be used in many ways and often provides a base platform for many other PR tactics such as editorial, internal communications, speaking opportunities and much more.

So go on, enter that award that you think you might have a chance of winning. You really have got nothing to lose!

NOTE FOR GLOUCESTERSHIRE BUSINESSES: The deadline for the Diamond Jubilee Gloucestershire business awards is Friday 3rd August. There’s still time! For award categories and to register your interest click here

 

Tags: Awards; business awards

Posted in Friday Rambles | No Comments

Friday ramble – all is quiet on the LinkedIn front

06 July 2012 at 09:00

Friday ramble – all is quiet on the LinkedIn front

Regular users of LinkedIn will have noticed this week that things have been, well, a little bit quiet. The normally heaving updates pages just don’t have the usual reams of content streaming through them.

It’s because, as of 29 June, the arrangement whereby Twitter and LinkedIn could be synced so that Tweets were automatically pushed to users’ LinkedIn pages has been abolished.

You can read more about it here.

Some people are quite upset about the move – after all, the syncing was a convenient way to keep a high profile on both platforms.

But is it really such a bad thing? LinkedIn is a business platform, whereas many people use Twitter across both their personal and professional worlds.

So, it is appropriate to post work-related updates on Twitter, but is it really acceptable or advisable to stream Twitter-chatter through LinkedIn? Do you really want all of your professional contacts to know what is going on in your personal life?

You can still opt for LinkedIn updates to be pushed to your Twitter profile. And that seems like a much more sensible option for anyone trying to manage their social media presence strategically.

We quite like Steve Revill’s take on the situation, so we’re going to pass the rest of this week’s Friday ramble over to him – or you can see his original blog here:

 

Twitter no longer LinkedIn

There’s no doubt we live in a digitally connected world.

But, with the growing number of mobile apps and platforms, it is easy to forget exactly how it’s all connected.

So I welcome yesterday’s news that tweets will no longer be displayed on LinkedIn- as should everyone that hasn’t appreciated the impact that automated cross-posting can have on their digital personal brand.

I use LinkedIn for professional networking. I’m ‘virtually’ suited and booted whenever I’m on the platform and am certainly in ‘work mode’. Yet I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s seen a tweet appear in their LinkedIn timeline and thought, ‘why are you sharing this with me?’.

The way I look at it, most people wouldn’t dream of bursting into a business networking event in their shorts and running vest and shouting “I’VE JUST COMPLETED A THREE MILE RUN IN 26MINS 19SECS”. So either they’ve forgotten these tools are connected or they simply aren’t thinking about the impact of the updates on their audience.

Although this automatic link from twitter has now been broken, it serves as a timely reminder to take a look at the what, why and how to manage your digital personal brand using social media.

  • WHAT tools do you currently use? Make a ‘map’ of how they’re all connected and ensure you understand what automated cross-posting is happening as a result.
  • WHY are you using them? Ask yourself about your audience on each of these platforms and how your updates impact their perception of you.
  • HOW can you effectively add value to your audiences using automation tools, but only once you’ve defined your ‘digital publishing strategy’- what will you send, to whom, how often and why?

 

There’s a number of tools that are out there that can help you to schedule and automate updates across a number of platforms. Personally, I’m a fan of TweetDeck, but the tool to use first is the one you have between your ears to make sure your digital publishing strategy adds value to your audience and fully aligns to your digital personal brand.

 

 

What are your thought on Twitter updates no longer being streamed through LinkedIn? We'd love to hear your views.

 

Over and out.

Tags: Twitter | LinkedIn | social media | PR strategy

Posted in Friday Rambles | No Comments

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