By Bridget Aherne,
Over-servicing, pricing ourselves too low and working to unrealistic expectations is no good for either us PR professionals or businesses who need effective communications support.
I’ve ranted about this previously and a number of new examples in recent weeks got me riled up again.
So, here I go again to try and get the same points across in a slightly different way to continue the conversation.
Public relations is a management function – it’s not just the processes or tactics that are often the most visible elements of our work – and we’re employed to bring insight, training and expertise, our thinking and judgement to bear in the support we give organisations.
That is a huge responsibility because it impacts on organisational success and is much more than monkey business – so deserves more than peanuts as pay.
My plea is to practitioners and business leaders alike to value and invest in public relations so that organisations can succeed and take their stakeholders with them on the road to success.
Organisations needing crisis response plans and wanting an independent practitioner available without paying a retainer (of which I’ve seen a number of examples of recently) or wanting 24/7 cover without the resources to do it are only setting themselves up to fail in what may be the darkest hours for them, their employees or the public they serve.
Putting more and more work on a small talented team, who just take it on, will mean they deliver nothing to a high standard, experience burnout or sacrifice their own CPD, soon becoming ineffective or irrelevant – and good people will move on to somewhere they feel valued.
My first paid role in public relations came when I had 10 years’ experience as a successful journalist and manager, the pay recognised that I came with that track-record and appropriate sums were paid on top of the base for working shifts and being available out-of-hours.
In that same role, I was taught to challenge the organisation’s leaders and their decision-making appropriately to reduce the risk to reputation and give them the best strategic PR advice and tactical responses to their issues.
It was a great experience as a first PR role and is the standard by which I now judge all other organisations – but others should aim for those high standards too. How valuable is your yes, if you never say no?
Bridget Aherne is a Chartered PR & comms pro and member of the Influence Editorial Board.