Rescind Article 50 cry industry chiefs and senior PROs!

Okay, it has to be done, we have to talk about Brexit, as Britain’s scheduled exit on 29 March is just around the corner.

As the deadline looms, industry heads pray for a delay, with almost two in three senior UK-based professionals wanting Article 50 rescinded according to a recent poll from the Pulse Business. Meanwhile, a pulse of public relations agency heads and communication directors carried out for the PRCA shows that just under half (45%) want Article 50 rescinded.

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Discussing senior PRO attitudes towards Brexit, Francis Ingham, director general of PRCA, says: “The PR industry remains divided on the issue, with many passionate views held. 

“By far the largest bloc of industry leaders wants Article 50 rescinded; followed by nearly a quarter of respondents who want the UK to leave, but to remain in the customs union. The option with the smallest number of industry supporters is leaving on World Trade Organisation terms.”

Below, senior PROs, share their feelings about leaving the EU.

Brexit will separate us from Europe fears Julietta Dexter, CEO of agency The Communications Store: “‘I have had the benefit of growing up and living in not one, but three, other European countries (Italy, France and Switzerland) and there is no doubt that our business has grown more broadly inside and outside of the UK as we have managed to gain the trust of clients from across Europe. I wonder, post-Brexit, if we will be closer or farther from our European colleagues and clients. Regrettably I think the latter. When we deal with clients anywhere in Europe, we know the subtle differences in their cultures and I will continue to nurture that European mindset, culture and ways of doing business.”  

Jobs could be under threat, adds Dexter: “In addition, I am the CEO of a PR agency with an impending office move in central London of 150-plus people and our focus is mostly on fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands. It is amazing to see that despite Brexit, creativity has been and remains a quality of the UK. However, in this period of uncertainty, my question every day is how can I protect these 150-plus jobs? By keeping the business agile and being able to retract or grow quickly is key, get on with it and finally continuing to work very hard.”  

Article 50 is bad for the economy says Paul Davies, managing director at agency Firstlight PR: “I think Article 50 should be scrapped. It’s not only ridiculous and bad news for our industry, it’s also terrible for the wider economy. It will stop talented people from entering our profession and seriously harm our ability to work in Europe.

“I do have one possible solution to prevent us being lied to again by politicians. Make them campaign under oath in future.”

There should be another referendum says Keren Haynes, co-managing director of agency Shout! Communications: “How could we have got ourselves in such a mess? When we voted in the first referendum the public did not have all the facts and we still don’t have all the facts. In fact some of the ‘information may actually have been false, lies even. On that basis, I think there should be a second People’s Vote.  

“The worst thing about the current situation is the uncertainty. Businesses are, understandably, jittery and that has a ripple down effect on PR. At the coalface, securing broadcast opportunities for clients, we feel suppliers like us are amongst the first to be hit when clients worry about a no deal and hard exit. I can’t find a single positive thing to say about Brexit. We’re down to the wire but as we say in broadcast, it hasn’t happened until it’s been on-air… same with Brexit, it’s not too late… yet…”

Chaos looms says Elena Davidson, CEO of agency Liberty Comms: “I was in Paris this week for a meeting with one of our French clients. Tinged with a touch of sadness that this may be my last trip as a fellow European, I hailed our taxi and headed back to the Gare du Nord. What greeted us was utter chaos. In preparations for Brexit there were four different sets of passport control meaning we had to wait in a queue for close to three hours. As a window on the reality of what a post-Brexit situation might look like, I was shocked.

“Yes we can be proud that for the most part we, as an industry, are dealing with issues ‘beyond Brexit’, and yes we can be proud that as a consultancy involved in the tech sector we can be fairly buoyant, but what happened this week showed to me the massive impact Brexit will have on just an operational level on getting business done.”

“Also, whilst the tech sector may be more lucky (if the government’s ambitions as outlined in its recent Industrial Strategy are realised that is), other sectors may not be quite so fortunate. I think we have a duty to gather together as an industry and communicate the impact life outside the EU will mean.

“As an industry that has been rocked by spin and fake news, we should also be priding ourselves on promoting a policy of honesty and transparency – the opposite of what the leave campaign was built on.”

If this all seems very pro-Remainer, this is because only these views were expressed to us at PRmoment, although we invited everyone to share their thoughts. Those in favour of Brexit decided to say quiet.

Methodology: Around 250 senior UK professionals took part in the first poll mentioned and around 361 UK PR industry leaders were polled for the PRCA in March 2019 by The Pulse Business @PulseBusiness.

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