PR Insight

How to cope if you're made redundant from your PR job

Date: 17 May 2012 10:26

In today’s shaky economy, how secure do you think your job is, really? But even if  the rug is pulled out from under you, there’s no need to fall flat on your face. Kelly Hopkins, recruitment consultant within PR and communications division at Handle Recruitment, offers these guidelines for landing a great new position:.

Work out how transferable your skills and experience are. If, for example, you have a background in music PR, it’s unlikely that you will walk into a role within the energy or financial sectors. Think about where your previous experience will add the most value and concentrate your efforts here; the more relevant your experience to an employer, the more likely you are to attract their attention. Or alternatively look for contiguous industries which operate in similar ways to your own sector – would your contacts help a consumer technology brand break into the music industry, for example?

Think about the six degrees of separation theory. Do you have contacts who might put you in touch with a potential employer, and are you registered with a credible recruiter who knows your market inside out? Don’t forget your press contacts either; they will have a huge professional network so it’s well worth asking them if they know of any positions available. It may also add weight to job applications if you can demonstrate you have connections with influential journalists and bloggers in a broad range of sectors.

Make full use of social media channels. Approximately 90 per cent of the briefs we get require some social media experience. You don’t have to be a specialist, but with the communications industry as a whole being more digitally focused than ever, this really is a worthwhile skill set to develop. It’s also a perfect way to find out about job vacancies and connect with professionals who might be able to offer you advice.

Be proactive. As soon as you hear of any potential risks then plan ahead by talking to recruiters and getting a feel for the market – forewarned is forearmed and if the worst does happen it means you can start your job search instantly.

Three personal stories that prove redundancy can be the beginning of a better career

Richard Bagnall, insights and analysis director of media intelligence specialist Gorkana Group:

“Back in the last big recession of the early 1990s, I left my comfortable job with Hollis Directories for a challenging role as sales and marketing manager at Saatchi’s newly created PR group The Rowland Company. I knew that times were tough for Rowland as it adapted to multiple mergers and acquisitions. What I wasn’t able to see was that soon after joining, Maurice and Charles Saatchi would leave the agency bringing about a mass exodus of clients and an even greater exodus of staff in redundancy rounds. I will never forget the feeling of being told that  didn’t need to turn up for work the next day. My mind went blank and I almost spiralled into depression and despair. However, I asked myself what my skills were and decided that working in PR for a charity was something I wanted to do. Through a concerted effort I quickly got a job at a charity. Unfortunately the job wasn’t what I expected. I knew I wasn’t happy and it was time to move again.

“I then met with Paul Hender and got the opportunity to build together the nascent Metrica into what is now the world’s largest specialist PR measurement company as a part of Gorkana Group. I’ve been with Metrica and Gorkana for 17 years which has seen me work with many of the world’s leading organisations.

“With hindsight, what had seemed like a disaster, turned out to be the best thing that happened to my career. I never judge people I meet by whether they have been made redundant or not. To the contrary, I see it as a character-building exercise.”

Sandy Lindsay, group managing director at agency Tangerine PR:

“Working at my last agency, I was starting to get that stomach-ache feeling on Sunday evenings, when a conversation with my boss lead to an offer of redundancy,

“Friends and family saw the opportunity way before I did – ‘Start your own company!’ they said, which is not something I’d ever planned to do. But, due to my moral streak that could give me problems working for other PR companies at the time, I decided to start my own business and prove it is possible to run a PR consultancy (well, any business) ethically and profitably.

“Ten years later we’re the CIPR’s current national Outstanding Consultancy of the Year and we have 40-plus people, looking after some of the world’s leading brands. Redundancy was definitely the best thing that ever happened in my career.”

Lindsey Collumbell, director at agency Bojangle Communications (and CIPR Excellence Awards judges secretary):

“Being made redundant after 14 years in-house was when my ‘real’ learning and development began. Having reached the level of a head of communications I had predominantly learnt my skills along the way by just doing my job. Actively seeking new skills was not that important. Redundancy nudged me down the freelance route and keeping up-to-date and learning new skills puts me ahead of other practitioners – constant learning and developing is essential. I now have a more rounded approach to client work as my range of skills is so much wider.”

Written by Daney Parker

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