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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?



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

HealBee - a heal-ing hand

25 April 2012 at 09:02

A heal-ing hand


There are so many websites and online communities out there that sometimes it’s hard to know which one is right for you. Well, the other day I met a Stroud-based entrepreneur who has just launched a website that is aimed at people who are newly single (due to a variety of reasons).


The site is called HealBee and its aim is to provide direct links to bespoke services that people may be looking for when they are single again. It also provides access to a members’ area where you can talk to other people in the same boat and read interesting articles from site users about their own ‘journey’.  It’s new, so granted there aren’t a lot of people on there right now, but I think that this will change in the next few months. One to watch… 


UPDATED - 01.05.12: HealBee comissioned some market research which is leading to some good media coverage


HealBee - Telegraph 








Tags: HealBee; single; divorced; bereavement; advice; support; online community; shopping

Posted in News | Reviews | No Comments

Corporate video? A monkey could make one.

19 April 2012 at 11:12

A little lateral thinking can go a long way it comes to corporate videos.

When I (Mary) was looking for something to occupy a monkey-mad toddler recently, I came across this little gem produced by Longleat.

It’s such a simple idea, but so effective. It actively engages the target audience (my little monkey must have watched it ten times back-to-back). And it persuaded me to make the two-hour journey from East Gloucestershire with a toddler in tow, which is no mean feat.

The rest of the website content is pretty good too. We followed the ‘planning your day’ advice, leaving the safari drive till the afternoon and visiting the other attractions in the morning. This meant we didn’t hit a single queue and pretty much had the monkey drive-thru to ourselves. We also saved 15 per cent on the ticket price by booking online.

So, a good online experience followed by a great experience on the day equals one happy family that will definitely be back in the near future. Ten out of ten, Longleat.

Tags: corporate videos | lateral thinking | target audience | engaging | Gloucestershire | Longleat | web content

Posted in Reviews | No Comments

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