Such a large number of the PR profession are women... and yet the industry just can't deal when women have children.
by Eleanor Willock
Black clothes and conference calls - the weapons of the pregnant PR.
Public Relations as an industry, isn't fantastic at dealing with maternity leave and its perceived consequences for client service. But it happens, babies are born, parents are enthralled, and then the need to return to work draws them back. My list of female colleagues and friends in PR who haven't wanted to return to their jobs is very, very small.
But the doors that flew open to the early twenties SAE with enthusiasm and the independence to stay that extra hour on a whim, or fly to Munich tomorrow, are now just wedged open a crack, and close on an automatic timer. But I honestly believe this is because of the ingrained agency attitude, not the needs or wants of our clients.
In technology public relations, some of the brightest, most fascinating women I have worked with have made huge career successes alongside motherhood, by letting their talent shine and ability to work smart be what makes them stand out, not the fact they might be on their mobiles from 3pm onwards or be unable to spend a week in China on a press tour without some notice.
As an ex Text 100 staff member, I couldn't not mention CEO Aedhmar Hyneshere, or ex UK MD Cathy Pittham as women who not only encouraged me to get what I wanted out of life, but also, who inspired all the women who worked alongside them to see that you don't love your kids any less just because you love your job. Laterly, ex-colleagues such as Dorothy Chang, now of Foursquare and on the fatherhood side, Dan Faulks of CNN, who have achieved so much and shine brightly in their chosen organisations whilst holding young families down at home (not physically, I hope!).
I love my job. I love my baby. I particularly love working for the firm I've been part of for over five years now, Mantis PR, where 80% of us are working parents. The quality of client service is, I hope, impeccable. We plan our teams and our workload to ensure that we're able to react to any given client scenario.
We have an office in London, but you'll mostly find us working from where suits us best. In my case, that's at home in Somerset, with colleagues in London, with clients, or at Babington House, where I am a member. We don't miss meetings, but we don't miss parent's evening, either. We take the internal catch up call with us on the walk to school pick up. We do our West Coast conference calls after the kids have gone to bed. We have quiet, contemplative working time at the desk we prefer, where we need it to be, to produce our best work.
We get the job done. We don't let each other down. We aren't worse at PR or less reliable because we are parents. No agency should make you feel that way. No job, even AD or SAD, or MD, can't be done flexibly with the right support. I truly believe that.
Anyway, why am I telling you this? Because we're hiring. So if you're a parent, maybe a mum who wants to come back to work and get stuck into the fun stuff about tech PR again, and work part time, or full time hours, have a look at this.
Drop me a line if you'd like to talk more, too.
Eleanor Willock is director at Mantis PR. The post was first published on Eleanor's LinkedIn blog.
Picture credit: SDASM Archives / Flickr