Aerial view of a crossroads in a city at night.

PR at a crossroads

It seems that PR and communication is going through a state of flux and change in the aftermath of two years dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) latest State of the Profession report gives some insight into an industry that has built a strong position in the past 24 months but is now experiencing uncertainty. There is no surprise then that the biggest challenge identified is the mental health of practitioners.

Once again with the report, it is not what is included but what happens once it has been published.

With the CIPR report there is clearly a lot that can be done to support both the profession and practitioners in the coming months. It needs to start with encouraging people into the profession so that there is a increased number of people who can develop and train to fill the vacancies that exist. But it also has to get through to those who have been working for longer who need to be skilled for the future and ready to deal with the changes ahead.

We are on the fence at the moment. One one side there is the chance to grow the reputation of PR and communication, secure that seat as a special advisor at the top table and to shape the development of business and organisations. While on the other, is the move back into the traditional world of producing materials and developing things requested by those in the business. The latter we can see with the continued focus on copywriting and editing as the primary activity.

The side that we choose will set the course for the profession in the coming years. It is important that we choose well and that is something where we all have a role to play. We must ensure we are skilled to meet the future demands including sustainability, risk management, and artificial intelligence. We must understand the way businesses operate and be able to talk the language of the business. We must work to build our own, our team and our business’s resilience to make it through these uncertain times.

It was surprising for me to see that crisis and issues management had dropped from the top five PR activities this year. We must ensure there is no complacency that develops from moving through the pandemic. The learning from 2020 onwards needs to be used to refresh our approach to crisis communication and issues management. Communicators have a key role to play in identifying problems at an early stage and helping to limit the impact. But this means still recognising the fragility of modern life. Planning and preparing for those future issues and risks will build our resilience by providing some certainty when faced with problems. In turn these things can reduce the impact on our mental wellbeing.

The PR and communication profession has a lot to offer as a career, as a part of society, and as a support to business development. It is clear from the CIPR State of the Profession Report 2022 that we are at a crossroads which may define how things progress in the future.


Image by Sushiman on iStock

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Crisis comms, FCIPR. FPRCA, PRCA trainer, Chartered Assessor. Former PRCA Council chair. Women in PR ambassador.

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