Most PR practitioners work outside London. They need better services and support to thrive. The CIPR State of the Profession 2019 survey evidence shows that public relations is far more regionally diverse than many would think.
It’s true that London is an important centre for the £13.8 billion UK public relations industry, but in reality, almost three-quarters of practitioners work in other parts of the UK.
Move from London
The last decade has seen a shift by organisations and public services away from the capital. Technology and better transport links mean that public relations is growing in the regions.
It’s no longer necessary for a graduate to head to London to enjoy a successful career in public relations. It never was if you wanted to work in the emergency or public services or NHS but it’s now true on agency side as well.
Organisations such as the BBC and Channel 4 have sought to move operations out of London creating new media hubs in Salford, Leeds, Cardiff, Bristol and elsewhere.
Devolution is shifting political power from Westminster to Cardiff at Edinburgh and more slowly to the regional cities. Agencies have followed to Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and elsewhere.
Technology has had a significant impact on practice. A PR practitioner with a mobile phone, laptop and WiFi can do the same work in Salcombe, Salford, Sheffield, South Shields, Soho or Singapore.
Embrace the shift
The public relations industry, media and professional associations need to embrace this shift.
I’m standing in the current CIPR election for president in 2021 and as a regional practitioner from the South West this is one of my six pledges.
The CIPR relies on volunteer networks to engage with members outside of London. Less than one per cent of the CIPR’s budget in 2018 was spent directly supporting groups and their volunteers.
I want to volunteers to have a greater say in how activities are delivered in their region, nation, sector or country. In my view the balance of resources and rewards allocated to group activities needs to be reset.
It’s important that the CIPR as a membership body is run by members for members. That is why I’d encourage everyone who can to vote.
Written by Mandy Pearse, public relations and marketing consultant. Mandy is standing as a CIPR Candidate for President-Elect, 2020 Voting for the CIPR president-elect runs until 5pm on Monday, 16 September.
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