I am going to tell you something that may shock and appall you.
There is more to the world of communications than what's in the South East.
That's right, our industry is bigger than just 'That London'.
In fact there are other regions, such as the Midlands and the North of England, as well as Scotland and Wales, which contribute heavily to our great reputation as a profession. These regions also produce some top talent.
I know, I know, I'll give you two minutes to take that in.
Some of you are probably thinking, 'I know that, that's no revelation'. If you are of that opinion, I would (rightly or wrongly) assume you're not based in London.
You see the top people in PR and Comms (surprisingly based in London) have some very capital-centric views in my experience. When I was studying at university I popped down to London for a CIPR 'Getting into PR' event. I was seeking some top tips from industry professionals on how to get my first break. The response I got, from some leading industry figures, was...
"If you want to get anywhere, you don’t want to stay in Birmingham. PR is based in London, you need to consider moving here after Uni, or at least doing an internship here."
"I’m afraid that’s the nature of it. Most of the PR industry is based in London, and that’s how it will continue. London is where the clients are, so London is where the agencies are."
If that's what some of the top people in PR are telling students, what hope has everyone got?
It's not London itself which is blame. Yes, major businesses often base themselves and their comms teams in the capital with, and agencies need to be close to their clients, but there's more we can be doing to ensure that all of talent doesn't run off to London.
I'm based in the Midlands where the local PR industry is booming. PR in the Midlands is fluid and fun. We have creativity, we have clients and business that care more about key messages than fees and ROI. And we have some fantastic universities which produce some stand-out talent.
So why should this be important to the next generation of communicator?
- The industry is their future
-Stronger insight and interaction with local PRs provides more practical and informed skills
- Any growth in local PR will benefit students
- More interaction and networking may encourage employability and graduate job prospects
- If, as a student, you do decide to move to London, the integration with creative professionals and work experience you may have gained should give you a head start
Why is it important for seasoned professionals to support local students?
- You will have helped shaped future employees
- You may gain some new perspectives and fresh ideas on PR techniques
- You'll gain a fresh and enthusiastic workforce willing to donate skills as part of work experience (just give them a good experience in return)
There are a few things we can do to help foster local industries. For example, we need to make better use of local networks and support groups (such as CIPR Midlands) as well as running our regional events (Why do the the CIPR only run Freshly Squeezed in the capital?).
We need to PR, PR. Using networking and good coverage of ourselves and our teams we can encourage national and international businesses (even those based in the capital) to take notice of those across other parts of the UK too.
There needs to be more encouragement of work experience and internships for local students, and the creation of new or stronger partnerships with universities and educational establishments.
And finally, a commitee or steering group to oversee and assist in all this. A strategic board of our key thinkers and next generation of professionals.
In the end it all comes down to our own mindsets, our encouragement of students and our decision not to sit in the shadow of a city which often gets all the glory.
London is great, but creativity is everywhere in the UK so let's start shouting about it.
Jarrod is a communications officer for Bromford, a leading affordable housing provider, and is a volunteer Media Communications Officer and social media manager for the Air Cadets.
Follow Jarrod on Twitter here.
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