Celebrating the best of the best at the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire CIPR PRide Awards

Tonight I have the good fortune to be in Leeds to celebrate the excellent work being carried out by CIPR members across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Here's a transcript of the welcome speech I gave.

Good evening and thank you for the warm welcome tonight. It's a real privilege to be here on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

It's also wonderful to return to Leeds. I'm from Newcastle, as you might have guessed from my Geordie accent and studied French and Media here in the <cough> late nineties. I worked behind the bar at Headingley Cricket Club and spent a lot of free time at Brutus Gold’s Love Train. Now that’s a night out.

I'd like to open by congratulating each and every one of you. Whatever transpires, you're already the best of the best as evidenced by your CIPR membership, commitment to continuous professional development (CPD) and shortlisting in the PRide Awards. 

Before I go any further, I'd like to ask everyone to recognise the hard work of Stefan Casey and the CIPR Yorkshire and Lincolnshire committee, plus the events team at CIPR, by putting your hands together. It's thanks to them that amazing nights like these happen. 

Public relations has much to celebrate. You may already know me from the #FuturePRoof books and community I created. One of the objectives of this was to act as a cheerleader for our profession. I'd now like to extend this to the CIPR.

Next year as your CIPR President I want to raise PR's standing and reinforce its value as a strategic management function. 

But I need your help.

Please, wherever you can, treat public relations as a business discipline and develop your management and finance competencies. Do whatever you can to speak the language of the C-suite and report accordingly. Finally - and it's a key one - promote public relations to employers and the wider business community at every opportunity.

Well that’s it from me – all that’s left to say is good luck and enjoy your night!

Thank you.

Has PR become so disrupted that it has become impossible for training to retain relevance?

Today's PRmoment conference 'Why there is a recruitment crisis within public relations?' took a long hard look at the talent shortage within the industry.

PRmoment hosted an event in central London today focused on the recruitment crisis in PR.

Attendees gathered to hear a range of experts speak on the talent shortage; the skills competencies required by modern public relations practitioners; the gender pay gap; improving diversity within the industry and much more. 

On behalf of the CIPR I spoke about the value of training for those in public relations, particularly where this is focused on the development of strategic, ethical and leadership skills, as demonstrated by those with CIPR Chartered status. 

Here's the deck I presented arguing against the motion 'Has PR become so disrupted that it has become impossible for training to retain relevance?' before a fireside chat with PRmoment's Ben Smith and Bournemouth University lecturer Heather Yaxley. 


The presentation looked at why it's important we include business, finance and management skills amongst our competencies; how these skills help us work with the C-suite and inform the nature of the continuous professional development we do. 

Thanks to Ben Smith and the PRmoment team for inviting me along and to all the speakers for the fascinating insights gained.

Fake news, ethics and professionalism in public relations

One of the big issues facing the PR and advertising industries is brand misplacement and the impact on reputation. I spoke at the CIPR North East's 'Fake news, ethics and professionalism in public relations' event looking at the role PR practitioners can play in mitigating risk.  

Last night the CIPR North East held its 'Fake News, ethics and professionalism in public relations' event as part of the CIPR's Ethics Festival.

Sally Keith (left), Sarah Hall and Clare Lee (right)

Sally Keith (left), Sarah Hall and Clare Lee (right)

CIPR fellow and independent practitioner Sally Keith talked through professional ethics and signposted attendees to the CIPR's decision tree, designed to help members think through difficult ethical decisions.

I spoke alongside SD Advertising account director Clare Lee on the role of public relations professionals as brand guardians in the face of ad and content misplacement and fake news. 

Here's the presentation we gave. 

Clare's content specifically looked at brand safety, accountability and media owners and ethics.

My contribution covered how this relates to public relations practice; crisis planning and issues management; brand purpose and rebuilding trust. 

The discussion concluded with thoughts on what the wider industry needs to do to address the burgeoning problem of fake news and contentious content and how we as professionals can mitigate risk for our employers and clients. 


Modern PR is much misunderstood as the Guardian's @OwenJones84 proves

Today's post by The Guardian's Owen Jones on Kevin Spacey's statement shows how much modern public relations is misunderstood. It's time to put the record straight. 

It's often said that the business of public relations has a public relations problem. Articles like the one by Owen Jones published in today's Guardian illustrate just how widespread the issue is. It also shows that the media are part of the problem. 


Responding to Kevin Spacey's coming out statement following an accusation that the Oscar winner sexually assaulted actor Anthony Rapp, Owen writes:

"When celebrities respond to scandals, they have a team of experienced PR representatives to help craft statements. And what do PR representatives try to do in these circumstances? They try to deflect attention by introducing a new story."

It's hard to equate this description with the public relations practised by thousands of professionals today.

Members of industry bodies such as the CIPR or PRCA sign up to a Code of Conduct promoting ethical behaviour. The suggestion that we practise spin or manipulate the truth to move a story on or change the narrative is as far removed from reality as can be.

In any given issues management situation regret, reason and remedy are much more likely to be advocated. 

I agree with the sentiment of Jones' article but feel obliged to put forward a counter view about the line of work I do. 

Public relations is a strategic management function which plays a clear role in organisational success. It helps businesses find their purpose in society outside of profit generation, acts as an ethical sounding board and manages reputation.

Practitioners need to be proficient in communications but also have management, finance and leadership competencies. The work is frequently 'aways on' and not for the faint hearted. 

It's clear members of today's media hold a view of public relations that is both outdated and tarnished from the industry's association with publicists and bad practice. It's now time for this to change and I'd welcome a discussion with Owen about this. 

Dealing with people who treat you like dirt - a book review of The Asshole Survival Guide

We all have times in life when working relationships affect our self confidence, moral and motivation and we feel disrespected and de-energised. I read The Asshole Survival Guide by Stanford professor Robert I Sutton to better understand bad behaviour and find work arounds. 


There are times when I really struggle to manage certain working relationships. In a stroke of fortune I came across The Asshole Survival Guide by Robert I Sutton. Here are 18 of my favourite quotes that I’ll be keeping close by as I work on my resilience. 

  1. Start with self awareness
    ‘Be slow to label others as assholes, be quick to label yourself as one.’ Keeping this mantra in mind primes you to avoid falling prey to your knee-jerk reactions... people who act like assholes are often blind to their bad behaviour and how others experience it. Always apologise when you’ve behaved like an asshole - but only if you really mean it and then do it right.
  2. Empathy
    If you really want to understand an asshole problem and how best to tackle it, consider how your quirks, background and biases shape your feelings. Taking responsibility for your feelings - and understanding what drives those of other targets or witnesses - helps you (or them) figure out how to limit the damage.
  3. Rabbits and rotten systems
    Assholes tend to breed like rabbits because of what psychologists call similarity-attraction effects. Be careful however not to mistake one or two bad experiences or unpleasant people for a rotten system.
  4. Petty power play
    Petty tyrants wield power over some narrow but unavoidable domain. They are rarely in a position to ruin your life, but often wield their limited authority to make you suffer (and to make themselves feel more important). 
  5. Kindness as a tool
    It is smart to treat every asshole survival problem as a two-way street - where you both offer and ask for help. By giving help to troubled targets and witnesses as they try to size up to and deal with jerks, you not only do good deeds; you equip yourself to withstand and to battle the malice and incivility in your own life. Your allies will feel obliged to return the favour, to help, support, protect and fight for you.
  6. Power plays, provocation and caution
    You should try and get away from assholes, but don’t be an idiot about it. When people feel as if they are being treated like dirt, many feel a mighty strong urge to resign in abrupt or confrontational ways. But do so only with extreme caution: such impulses can be dangerous because, if you act on them, it might just provoke some powerful and mean-spirited people to make you pay for it later. 
  7. Being an asshole can be an infectious disease
    Even a single exposure to a rude person can turn a person into a 'carrier,' who in turn infects others with the negative behaviour - so it spreads much like the common cold. 
  8. Protection through distance
    When it comes to assholes, it’s sometimes wise to add rather than remove communication barriers - and physical distance is one of the most protective barriers.  
  9. Assholes and perverse kicks
    Some assholes take a [...] kind of pleasure in your pain. When they do something that generates a strong reaction from you [...] the pleasure centre in their twisted minds light up. 
  10. Forgiveness and letting go
    Even when a jerk doesn’t apologise, and you don’t express forgiveness to them, forgiving him or her in your heart can help you let go of the hurt - and you should do so without condoning, downplaying, or forgetting the offence.
  11. Not giving a shit
    Practising the fine art of not giving a shit about people who mistreat you - honing your ability to tune them out - can save your sanity, shield your physical health, and keep you from hurting the people you love.
  12. Look ahead to better days with better people
    Turn your full attention to those people who treat you with respect, to what matters most to you, and to the better days ahead.
  13. Righteous anger and passive aggression as means of defence
    When you are dealing with a pushy jerk who is undermining the greater good, even if they wield power over you, a flash of righteous anger can sometimes get them to back down. There are other times when subtle ‘passive-aggressive’ confrontation is best.
  14. Managing up and bringing assholes down
    If you want protection from powerful and prickly narcissists, there is an argument for kissing up in order to provide cover and to keep them calm while you work backstage to bring them down.
  15. Assholes are insecure
    Some people are grumpy, insulting, or overbearing primarily because they are insecure about their abilities and prestige.
  16. Revenge is sweet but short lived, fix the system
    Revenge is sweet, but can be useless and dangerous. Use the system to reform, defeat and expel jerks.
  17. Stop and listen
    Reduce your risk of treating others poorly by seeking out and listening to trusted truth-tellers and reflecting about your past behaviour to identify circumstances that bring out the worst in you.
  18. Strength in friends and family
    By realising you are not alone, by turning to people ranging from fellow targets to friends and to your family for support and wisdom, you bolster your chances of constructing better plans, traveling through difficult days with dignity and grace, and emerging from it all a stronger person.








    #MeToo to #HimThough: Why active language is so important

    Can I tell you about when I was 15 and woke up to find a friend of my cousin’s groping me? My younger cousin was asleep in the bunk bed below.

    How about when a university lecturer asked me out for a date. He marked my grades down when I said no. It cost me a first class degree.

    Let’s talk about the workplace: a male team had a bet to see who could sleep with me first.

    (Answer, none).

    How about the CEO that called me on a day off to say I needed to sack my co-manager because the business didn’t want working mums as “they’re not committed.”

    (I didn’t sack her and Kerry that was at your wedding. I’m sorry).

    Always and everywhere

    It happens whatever stage you’re at in your career.

    Two years ago while running my own business, a client grabbed my buttocks at an event. There were more than 200 people in the room.

    I brushed him off and said we’d talk about it later.

    He subsequently avoided every call and request for a meeting and fired my agency from the account.

    It removed the opportunity to discuss it face to face.  Thing is, he’d almost certainly have laughed it off as a bit of fun anyway.

    You’re almost certainly in wild agreement that these stories are unacceptable. You’ll almost all have versions of your own. We haven’t moved on that far from the seventies.

    Sexual harassment and gender discrimination are endemic in the workplace.

    The news about Harvey Weinstein might have opened up the conversation, but talk now needs to lead to genuine culture and behavioural change.

    #MeToo to #HimThough

    The #MeToo campaign flooding social media is only the tip of the iceberg but it shows exactly how widespread sexual abuse is. The experiences are not ‘just a joke’ and affect women across all walks of life.

    Some people are better able to raise awareness about it than others – for example it’s arguably easier for me as a white, middle class professional to speak up.

    Whether it’s a lingering touch of the arm, outright proposition or much worse, being hit upon is downright unacceptable.

    Turning down someone’s advances should also not affect your chances of success in life.

    In her interview with Emily Maitliss on BBC Newsnight, actress Emma Thompson said: “Does it only count if you really have done it to loads and loads of women or does it count if you do it to one woman, once. I think the latter.”

    She has a point. If you’ve ever behaved this way to someone in the workplace, you’re guilty of inappropriate behaviour. I’d argue the same about complicity.

    If you’ve watched it happen and haven’t stepped forward, you’re equally as guilty.

    We all have a role in speaking out

    So what’s the answer to this complex issue? One route forward is to stop using passive language.

    Liz Plank created #HimThough in response to the #MeToo campaign: “How many women will it take to say #MeToo before men talk about #HimThough? Imagine a world where the burden was on men to share their shame rather than women.”

    Using active language is more important than you think.

    News reports that talk about the number of sexual assaults on women rather than the number of sexual assaults by men take away the onus from the perpetrator.

    As Jackson Katz, the co-founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention, said: “The use of the passive voice…shifts the focus off men and boys and onto girls and women.

    “Blaming victims and minimizing the harms they have suffered is much easier than holding people accountable — especially the powerful and well-connected.”

    Professional communicators, take note. It’s a lesson for us all.

    Charlie Gard case underlines need for professional public relations practice

    The case of Charlie Gard has attracted international attention.

    An investigation by The Times appears to highlight questionable practice by the family's closest advisers and spokespeople.

    When procuring a public relations practitioner or publicist it is important to select a professional who has an appropriate accreditation. They should also be a member of a professional body such as the CIPR or PRCA, which has a code of conduct that must be adhered to.

    You wouldn't hire a solicitor who hadn't passed their legal exams or take medical advice from someone who wasn't a doctor.

    There are countless examples of where public relations has been used as a positive campaigning tool based on a clear purpose and value exchange between all parties.

    A grieving family lies at the heart of this case and thoughts are with Charlie's parents at this time.

    Fake news - scope, public trust and options for policy

    Fake news distribution is becoming a central focus for publishers, digital platforms, advertisers and consumers. Today's Westminster Media Forum has been organised to decide what next for industry and government.

    I'm speaking on behalf of the CIPR at today's Westminster Media Forum which has been organised to debate the issue of fake news.

    Throughout the morning, sessions will analyse what fake news is, the motivations behind it, declining trust in the media, the responsibilities of content hosts and how advertisers can gain greater control over where their brand messages appear. 

    My participation revolves around a panel looking at ad misplacement and the implications for brand management. You can see my deck here.


    While ad misplacement is as old as time and there is limited sensitivity to display ads appearing next to distressing stories in the printed press, or TV adverts appearing in between programmes showing violence, drugs and racial hatred, the online response is very different.

    The brand safety discussion was recently reignited when Google and YouTube ads were placed next to contentious religious and political content. Large scale advertisers pulled out until new checks were put into place and some haven't yet reinvested.

    With 400 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube every hour, content control is a major issue and an ever greater challenge following the spread of the fake news phenomena due to modern technology.

    Any solution needs to focus on how this volume of content can be checked before publication, rather than weighted towards how advertisers can exert placement control over paid promotion. 

    In addition to revisiting their brand values and living these (see the @stopfundinghate campaign as an example), organisations must embed fake news within their crisis planning.

    Brands must also work with government, Google, Facebook and others to find solutions and educate the public about how to identify fake news, as well as how the advertising process works, if they are to mitigate reputational risk.





    The CIPR needs you

    We’re seeking an exceptional candidate for CIPR President-Elect 2018 to help promote excellence in public relations for members, the industry and general public.

    At the end of August the next CIPR election will take place. We'll be looking for a new President-Elect and Board members.

    The CIPR needs a cohesive Board focused on the Institute's best interests.

    If you fit the eligibility criteria and have got what’s needed to take the Institute and public relations industry forward, I'd urge you to consider standing.

    We need professionals willing to roll up their sleeves and help change the status quo. We won't do it overnight but have a chance to make a real difference during the year.

    My manifesto has always clearly been about re-establishing the role of public relations as a management discipline and demonstrating the strategic value it can add when deployed effectively within organisations. It's where the opportunity lies.

    This will be the theme of 2018 and I'm looking for people who, like me, want to improve the standing of our profession and help it grow.

    It's a development of work by people including Anne Gregory; Ralph Tench; Betteke van Ruler; Ana and Dejan Verčič; Jon White; and Paul Willis; and many others whose thinking I greatly respect.

    It returns the CIPR to its original purpose set out in its Royal Charter and the Credo written by founder Tim Traverse-Healy. 

    I believe we can use their expertise and knowledge to the benefit of us all.

    I'm incredibly keen to work with like-minded professionals who have no personal agenda except to see the Institute succeed.

    Each person needs to be a critical friend to the Institute and also prepared to put their head above the parapet and stand up for what they believe.

    It's not always easy. Just last week I blogged about how an anonymous comment has yet again put my personal relationship in the spotlight and called my professionalism into question. It’s nonsense and everyday sexism in action. 

    This week a fellow Board member posted an article calling into question whether public relations is a management discipline. As it's someone who campaigned hard for a rival candidate and who knows that this forms part of the CIPR's strategic planning, it's hard not to take that personally.

    But the thing is you can't. It’s petty internal politics. The CIPR Board, Council and members need to stay focussed on its purpose of promoting excellence in public relations for members, the industry and the public. That's when we'll succeed. 

    Back to the election. If like me you're passionate about implementing culture change throughout the CIPR, want to reassert public relation’s strategic value within the wider community, can take the rough with the smooth and are excited about our future, please step forward.

    You're needed and I'd love to work with you.

    The line between transparency and invasion of privacy

    Professional public relations practitioners advocate honest and transparent comms.  This applies within the workplace but is important personally too. So when does being open cross the line to become an invasion of privacy?

    A year or so ago, Stephen Waddington (@Wadds) and I started dating. Stephen's profile within the PR industry is a significant one as a recognised innovator and influencer (#proud). Mine is much smaller but growing thanks to #FuturePRoof and my role as CIPR President-Elect.

    We've never tried to hide our relationship. When I stood for the role of CIPR President it was on the bottom of my website manifesto page (still is in fact) and we have been careful to always reference it whenever we've felt it appropriate. However we've also tried to balance that with the need of our personal lives to respect our families' and children's privacy. 

    We've continued our professional relationship as before, as seen through the #FuturePRoof podcasts and more. We don't see a reason why we can't continue to work together. Hell, we do it really well. 

    People who follow us on Twitter (and Stephen has 20k+ followers) would say our real life partnership is obvious from the regular interaction between the two of us. Our Facebook communities (again Stephen's comprises hundreds of PR folk) will have seen enough date night pictures to cast away any doubt. On our profile pages it even says we are 'in a relationship'.  In 2017 terms that's proper serious. 

    Stop the snark

    So it was disappointing last week when Stephen tweeted an update of my #FuturePRoof research from #PRfest to receive yet another anonymous comment on his blog from someone suggesting we were unprofessional for not being overt about our personal status. It's a shame they didn't put their name to it as I'd have happily had this debate openly with them but that says more about the individual than it does about us. 

    In light of this I've taken the unusual step of changing my Twitter bio to say 'Dating @Wadds'. At the time it was done tongue in cheek but it raises a serious point.  How overt do we have to be before it crosses into personal territory and becomes an invasion of privacy?

    Couples work together all the time

    Stephen and I are not the first couple to work together and we'll certainly not be the last. I can immediately think of four different businesses in my small PR circle all run by husband and wife teams. They don't need to splash it on everything they do and certainly don't wear his and hers 'dating' or 'hitched' t-shirts. Well, maybe they do at home but that's their own business. 

    But as a professional communicator I am TIRED by this ongoing and tedious narrative that people apparently can't work and live together without having it tattooed on their foreheads (could this be a nascent form of personal branding?). Or - as is actually the situation here - that full and constant disclosure has to apply to the two of us, even if no one else. 

    Everyday sexism

    Less than three months ago I was told by a do gooder that people think I have 'compromised my professional integrity' by dating Stephen and that my reputation will never recover. Good morning Britain, where everyday sexism is alive and well. 

    The fact that this continues to be an issue for some people makes me think that there are other factors at play; perhaps professional jealousy, or perhaps trolling others is what gives people their self worth.

    I’d urge people to scrutinise the work we do on its professional merits. We believe it’s having a positive impact but if you feel differently, let us know where you think we are going wrong.  Feedback is always welcome. 

    Taylor says shake it off

    Stephen and I have had some amazing support from people we love and respect (thank you) because this has been a recurring theme despite our best attempts to approach the situation in a common sense and human way.

    My one ask is that before you make a negative judgement about whether our relationship is right or even up for public debate, please ask yourself what your motive is and be truthful with yourself.

    As it stands, I don't intend to stop working with or dating the dashing Mr Waddington. It turns out he might just be a keeper.  



    Planning for the CIPR’s 70th anniversary

    2018 is an important landmark for the CIPR. It's 70 years since it was founded at St Bride’s, Fleet Street, London in 1948. Plans are already well underway to celebrate the occasion.

    The formation of an Institute for Public Relations (IPR) was first proposed by Kenneth Day, a practitioner from Erith Borough Council. He brought together other Local Authority practitioners to discuss the idea.

    The group saw the benefit of an association with a wider membership than local government and approached Sir Stephen Tallents, a leading figure in the profession, to see if he would be willing to bring in a group of wider practitioners from industry and central government.

    Sir Stephen was appointed President and the original group of practitioners formed the first Board. It would take almost 60 years for the IPR to achieve Chartered status and become known as the CIPR.

    Past President Stephen Waddington worked with deputy CEO Phil Morgan to write a brief history of the CIPR for an after dinner speech at the History of Public Relations conference at Bournemouth University in 2014. It’s worth a read.

    Celebrating our vision and purpose

    70 years on, the CIPR and the wider profession has much to be proud of and look forward to. Our vision of promoting professionalism in public relations for practitioners, and in the public interest, remains absolutely faithful to the purpose set out by our founders.

    I’m incredibly honoured to be President in 2018. It’s an important celebratory year for the CIPR.

    The year will see a continuation of President Jason MacKenzie’s professionalism drive, and will pick up on themes and issues characterising the industry, centring on the pledges I set out in my manifesto during the election last Autumn.

    At the forefront of activity will be a celebration of everything that has been achieved and a formal recognition of all the volunteers across the UK.

    Planning for the anniversary year

    Planning is underway for the 2018 celebrations. The organising committee led by CIPR Fellow Simon McVicker will publish a detailed plan closer to the time.

    We’ll be calling for help once a framework of activity has been agreed with the regional, national and sectoral groups however we can already share the following, as approved by CIPR Board and Council.

    Anniversary celebration, reception and Fellows’ Lunch, London

    We’ll return to the location of our foundation; St Brides, Fleet Street, on 9 February for a celebratory service and reception. This event is open to members of all faiths and denominations.

    A reception will take place nearby afterwards for members wishing to stay on and celebrate. We’re also aiming to organise the annual Fellows' Lunch to take place after the service.

    Sir Stephen Tallents Memorial Lecture, Edinburgh

    It’s a pleasure to announce that the committee is relaunching the Sir Stephen Tallents Memorial Lecture. This event will be in Edinburgh and feature a speaker from the wider industry who represents the future of public relations.

    Celebratory conference looks to future of practice

    The National Conference will form a key part of the calendar, incorporating a high profile keynote speaker and practical workshops addressing key areas of change, as well as academic input to bridge the gap with practice.

    Leading the profession: content and conversation

    Keep your eyes peeled for our 70 at 70 – a year-long initiative we’ll be launching to celebrate public relations pioneers; and we’ll be crowdsourcing content for a media campaign and special anniversary booklet so watch this space.

    My thanks to CIPR Board, Council and the anniversary planning team led by Simon McVicker for all their work so far on the anniversary project. It’s going to be a very special year.

    Public relations is an industry coming of age but with issues to address

    The State of the Profession Survey tells the story of a maturing industry that is striving to professionalise and beginning to be taken increasingly seriously by the C-Suite.

    This year’s CIPR State of the Profession Survey makes for heartening reading in some areas, and depressing in others.

    Year-on-year rises in the number of board level professionals signpost a welcome trend. However whether practitioners have the appropriate skills to act at the highest level when respondents cite written communication as one of their strongest competencies is a critical question.

    Whether the 32% drop in budgets and fees experienced by in house professionals could have been staved off by the delivery of strategic rather than tactical activity is an area worthy of further research.

    Public relations is a management discipline and must move away from its role as a delivery function in order to capitalise on the opportunities currently afforded by Brexit and the US election if the industry is to grow and thrive.


    An opportunity there for the taking

    Regardless, the State of the Profession report makes for optimistic reading for those committed to continuous professional development (CPD).

    Respondents said that when recruiting for senior communications roles, their organisations looked for skills in leadership and strategic management, knowledge of current affairs and interpersonal skills.

    Clear opportunities are opening up for anyone who can demonstrate adherence to initiatives such as the Global Alliance’s Global Capabilities Framework as a career path to strengthen their skills.

    Aligning training and qualifications to demand for these will be a critical area of focus for the CIPR in the 12 to 24 months ahead.


    The time for action is now

    In less positive news, the State of the Profession survey reports that the pay gap persists, with a £5,784 salary discrepancy in favour of men that cannot be attributed to any the factors other than gender.

    Gender remains the third largest influence of pay behind seniority and years in public relations.

    I wrote these ten steps for achieving parity in pay in public relations back in 2015.

    We’re woefully behind achieving real change. I’d urge you to take a look and implement as many as you can.

    Equally, the jump in the number of respondents stating that diverse teams produce more effective campaigns has still to seep through to the Human Resources and Recruitment function.

    We might be talking a good game but 91% of the industry are white, and 89% British.  

    You can find some excellent advice on creating a diverse workforce here thanks to Sarah Stimson from the Taylor Bennett Foundation.

    Read it and decide how you can help ensure your organisation and the industry remains open to aspiring practitioners from black and ethnic minorities and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

    Public relations has a duty to properly represent the publics we’re here to serve.


    History is watching: How are you advising your management team?

    If the role of the public relations adviser is to be the eyes, ears and conscience of an organisation, how are you advising your management team?

    Public relations is a management discipline and rapid change within the political world is creating significant opportunity for practitioners. 

    Brexit and President Trump’s inauguration have signaled huge shifts in opinion and behaviour.  Both have created significant public division in the UK and US.

    Businesses need to understand what these developments mean for trade; what their stakeholders believe and want; and be absolutely clear about their purpose going forward.

    No one is better placed to help than the strategic public relations adviser.


    Standing up for what’s right

    Now more than ever, brands need to think very carefully about their role within society. 

    Reputation management is a critical function for any organisation. At a time of political upheaval, if a company isn’t living its values, it will be judged against this.

    As Professor Anne Gregory says in #FuturePRoof: “[Organisations] are being forced to re-think their purpose and how they gain and maintain their legitimacy not only with their immediate stakeholders, but to society more widely.”


    A stirring response

    Starbucks response to President Trump’s Muslim ban is an excellent example of an organisation prepared to defend its ethical credentials.

    As part of a wider statement, Starbucks chair and CEO Howard Schultz sent the following message to employees and partners.

    “We are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American dream, being called into question.

    “These uncertain times call for different measures and communication tools than we have used in the past. [We] will neither stand by, nor stand silent, as the uncertainty around the new Administration’s actions grows with each passing day.”


    Driving in the wrong direction?

    This move was in direct contrast to Uber, which flouted the New York Taxi Workers Alliance hour long strike at JFK Airport on 28 January, organized in protest at what the Alliance called an ‘inhumane and unconstitutional’ move by Trump.

    Its move to capitalize on trade rather than stand side to side with others in the transport sector caused a tirade of outrage on Twitter and the introduction of a #deleteuber hashtag, which quickly went viral.


    History is watching

    As JK Rowling reminded Theresa May in advance of her trip to the US at the end of January, history is watching.

    It’s a useful pointer for any public relations practitioner advising the C-Suite on the leadership role its organisation should play both internally and within society. It’s no longer acceptable not to have an opinion.

    What will your – and your employer’s - legacy be?

    Within the CIPR and PRCA’s code of conduct, professionals are reminded of their duty to act with integrity, fairness and honesty. Mutual respect and inclusivity are an important part of this.

    A key question to ask is where your organisation stands and whether it is prepared to defend its values – or whether it is going to watch and do nothing. Sometimes there is no choice but to stand up and be counted.