It’s a funny old world, in-house PR. You’re a trained, creative being – no doubt working in a dynamic and innovative comms team. But, all too often, you’re supporting and promoting a completely different type of industry and almost always NOT a creative one.
You work mainly with operational people. They are the deliverers of your organisation’s core business and often comms is not their top priority. You’re the ‘PR and marketing’ expert, your team is where they go to for the ‘funky stuff’, while they’re busy at the coal face.
And this, my friend, is why the comms bubble starts to form.
Over time it’s easy, if you’re not careful, to get a little bit isolated. You get the job done and you do it well. The business is happy with your outputs and successes and the day-to-day can be challenging and rewarding in equal measure. It might be fun, but beware of ‘going native.’
You need to keep your creative edge and not morph into the cultural norms of the business you serve – or you’ll stagnate and implode.
And that’s where the importance of being networked comes in. I am so grateful for the fact that, as an in-house public sector PR, I have a number of connections I rely on for my professional sanity, development and creative inspiration. I am plugged into Commscymru, for example – a network of communications professionals from across the Welsh public sector. In fact, we met together yesterday for a spring conference and it was a fantastic opportunity to learn from each other and share ideas.
Over 100 PR’s from health, local government, central government, regulators, the third sector and other independent public bodies in Wales got together. It was great to brainstorm and devise a series of low cost creative campaigns – just for fun – during the afternoon workshop, for example. It really did teach us the power of collective ideas and fresh thinking.
Incidentally, in two weeks’ time, Commscymru will be re-launching its website and it will be open access – no nasty passwords – so all PR professionals, not just those in the Welsh public sector, will be able to benefit from its content.
Another excellent resource for me is the Government Communications Service. Again, it has a new membership programme which anyone can sign up to – although they do have different categories of member depending on where you’re from.
I also get loads of training opportunities, advice, aswell as a continuous professional development programme, from the Chartered Institute of PR (CIPR).
Most valuable of all, though, are the face to face opportunities these networks provide me with. Richard Branson has written an excellent blog on the importance of not going it alone. No matter how advanced our methods of communication have become, nothing seems to have come close to replicating the value of face to face contact – check out this infographic from Virgin.com which sums it up beautifully.
So, do you engage with other likeminded PR’s in order to learn, grow and flourish?
Or, are you in a comms bubble right now?
Bubble by Rio Wirawan under creative commons licence (Flickr).