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Would anyone notice if PR went on strike?

It could be a long summer with all the transport strikes that have been threatened, as airport, bus and tube workers threaten to join rail workers in national walk outs. So how would the country react if PRs decided to go on strike too?

At first, journalists would be delighted …

Tim Gibbon, founder of communications consultancy Elemental: “There would be countless journalists thanking their stars if many PRs went on strike. Just imagine the bliss of a red-hot email inbox cooling down for even a day or two or the tinnitus-inducing constant ringing of the phone put on hold. There is much superficial nonsense noise we could all take a break from (part from the positive good vibes variety, of course).”

… And then they would begin to appreciate PR more

Tim Gibbon: “In all seriousness, the symbiotic relationships between media professionals and PRs are essential. If you've worked both sides, you would appreciate it even more. Perhaps there should be more job swaps to better understand the pressures on both sides? For many, it would be quite an eye-opener.”

Laura Perkes, founder of agency PR With Perkes:“If PRs went on strike then journalists may start to appreciate the effort we put into pitching to them and clients might actually appreciate how much skill is involved in creating relevant, newsworthy content that keeps them centre stage.

“PR professionals are often dismissed - you only have to look at vitriolic tweets by journalists to see what they really think of us - but if PRs went on strike then the volume of irrelevant emails they'd receive will increase as brands don't understand the pitching process, or know how to build relationships with journalists.

“PR professionals often have to appease clients and their understanding of what makes a strong story or a great pitch, whilst still feeding journalists with relevant information to ensure their clients get featured.”

Company reputations would be badly affected

Laura Perkes: “No one fully understands the impact that PR has on reputation until the wheels start falling off and a crisis ensues, which you definitely don't want to happen without a well-briefed PR agency on your side.”

No one might notice until disaster strikes!

Jon Gerlis, public relations and policy manager at CIPR: "The strength of public relations is in our long-term visions and strategies and our ability to build meaningful relationships, so I suspect most people would not fear a short PR strike and in some circumstances might not even be aware if one were to take place. That is until the angry tweets come in, a journalist is on the phone, a colleague needs to get that report out today..."

People would be less well informed

Lizzie Elkin, senior client executive at agency Milk & Honey PR: "Britain would be seriously misinformed. Communication is how we discuss and decide on hundreds of things every day. PR makes you sit up and pay attention and is a key source of data for news stories. Newspapers would be printing a jumbo sudoku, podcasts would be guestless and the news would have no comments from anyone responding to the big stories of the day. 

"Of course, we work in a capitalist society and we work to get clients noticed for the right reasons, but without the work we do, there is very little to back up the articles you read other than conjecture and bias.

"Society takes advantage of how well-informed it is, and is often ignorant of the hard work that goes into making the information both accurate and accessible. A strike would show how much we rely on strong communications from government, businesses, charities and public organisations to form our opinions."

The news would be less trustworthy

Adnan Bashir, senior manager, global corporate communications at Hansen Technologies: "What many members of the public among us perhaps don’t realise is that the experts - be it a private-sector CEO, a journalist, an industry analyst or an international relations professor - that we see on television, on a podcast or in a newspaper feature, weighing in on the most pressing issues of the day, is the result of several public relations and corporate affairs professionals working behind the scenes.

“As an avid consumer of the media, I personally like to see a plethora of perspectives being presented on any given topic. For example, if Bloomberg, CNBC or the BBC were doing a segment on inflation, many among us would definitely notice if only a government representative were invited as a guest, whilst an economist from a leading financial institution, the chief executive of a pension fund or an economics professor from a local university were completely absent. If PR professionals were not doing the work of having spokespersons placed in such impactful stories, it would be doing the public a major disservice - possibly even leading to a level of mistrust."

Sector focus

The wheels could come off car sales

Faye Hatton, freelance PR and comms consultant in the automotive sector: “If automotive PRs went on strike, you might not notice at first. But automotive PR teams make sure journalists get access to cars and news. From Top Gear to the local weekly newspaper, media go through the brand press offices for a car loan, tech specs and exec access.

“No press coverage would mean a lack of accurate news and a void of information about EVs. Ultimately, it could lead to a reduction in consumer interest and therefore car sales. Automotive PRs keep the wheels turning for an essential industry to the UK economy.

“With some 156,400 people employed directly in manufacturing and in excess of 797,300 across the wider automotive industry, it accounts for 11% of total UK export of goods, worth £42.4 billion, and invests £2.9 billion each year in automotive R&D. (Source: SMMT).”

You may feel that your work is sometimes unappreciated, but PRs are vital to help keep everyone clued up, whether they are watching the news or making a purchasing decision. So hold your head up, and whatever you do, don’t go on strike!

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