Reasons for PR to be cheerful, in three parts

In the Ian Dury and the Blockheads song, Reasons to be Cheerful pt 3, the late punk-poet monotonously spends the best part of five minutes doing just what the song suggests; listing reasons to be cheerful. If you look hard enough, you can find them.

“The juice of a carrot. The smile of a parrot. A little drop of claret. Anything that rocks.”

Thankfully, you don’t have to look too hard in CIPR’s latest #PRinAPandemic research to find the positives.

The rocket in reputation. Increased demand. The predicted growth of in-house teams and consultancies. The expected increase in clients. Greater influence.

Admittedly, this doesn’t flow as well when put to music but, after a torrid few months, the public relations industry does indeed have reasons to be cheerful about its future.

Reason number 1

We’re starting from a better position than anyone could have predicted.

The research shows that 18 months into a global pandemic and our influence, reputation and reach has found its way into new areas of our organisations and with great intensity. Two-thirds of in-house practitioners say their influence has grown amongst senior leaders. 56% of those in client-facing roles say their reputation has increased among clients. And the majority only see that trend continuing. Over 46% of practitioners believe that rise in reputation and influence within organisations and from clients is here to stay. Over 45% of practitioners believe it will grow. We have a newfound confidence, evidenced by the fact that previous concerns of not being seen as a professional discipline and our underrepresentation at board level have tumbled down our list of challenges.

Reason number 2

That influence has been reflected in our business performance whether measured by client base, recruitment, or income. Over the last year, more than one-third of those in client-facing roles saw their client base grow. Teams across all organisation types were more likely to have grown than shrunk and those in management roles across every organisation type predict further growth in their teams. Every level of seniority reported their income was more likely to have increased, apart from the most senior practitioners who were as likely to see their income fall as they were to see it rise. The call for clear and authentic communications from brands and businesses has meant a demand in trusted and skilled practitioners.

Reason number 3

Our challenges are our own to solve, and that means improving the reputation of our profession amongst those that work in it. The above doesn’t forget or forgive the virus for the misery it has caused. Even those who experienced success found it came at a cost. For two-thirds, the increased reputation and strong performance was built on longer working hours and, for 57%, a hit to one’s mental health.

Unsurprisingly, our wellbeing and that of our colleagues is now the single biggest challenge facing us. Nearly one-third of practitioners expect their working hours to increase and around half believe the increased hours worked during the pandemic are here to stay.

It is up to us to invest the rewards of our success in taking care of our own.

CIPR’s #PRinAPandemic report is out today. It is an 80-page report full of data, insight and information on the impact of COVID on the profession and what it means for its future.

Jon Gerlis is Public Relations and Policy Manager for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

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