2021 is a pivotal year for the communications industry as it continues to rebuild following the Covid-19 pandemic. While the last 12 months has been challenging, opportunities have arisen and certain issues need addressing.
As Chair of the 2021 PRCA Council, in collaboration with the other Council members, this is my focus for the next 10 months:
1. Small businesses
The power of small businesses is often underestimated. The reality is that they drive innovation and contribute £3trillion to the economy. Unfortunately, this sector has been heavily impacted by Covid and many have closed down. The survivors are looking at ways to tighten the purse strings as we continue to navigate through these difficult times. As communications experts, we can help as brand building is at our core. But this comes at a price. To minimise that cost for struggling businesses, one of our initiatives will be to roll out a small business heroes campaign where experts in the field will be offering free advice and mentoring to small businesses to help them with their efforts.
2. Mental Health and Wellbeing
This area has never been more visibile as people struggle with isolation from friends, family and peers. Constant video calls, work and family pressures plus home-schooling have massively taken their toll and shone a spotlight on the need to protect and support people mentally as well as physically. We will carry out research into mental health issues in our industry, looking at the triggers and how we can better support people. We also plan to roll out a charter which organisations can use to track their progress on mental health objectives/needs.
3. Accessibility and inclusion (A&I)
This continues to be a hot topic and one that every industry is trying to get right. Given that it is such a broad field, we will be focusing efforts on women returners, BAME representation and socio- economic progression. We aim to host three events this year, one per strand, where we will be inviting high-profile speakers to talk about practical ways to improve A&I. This will then be formalised and shared with companies as best-practise examples and as tips and advice.
An issue that runs and runs. This year we will be hosting a research project and a series of roundtables which look at where ethics and its guardianship sit within an organisation. This will feed into an industry report, the creation of an ethical framework and training for companies to help them better understand the importance of ethics, and how to manage potentially compromising situations so that they do not damage the reputation of their business.
The last and final priority will be a look at the value of PR with a view to improve the perception of PR as a profession that adds value to both organisations and wider society. We will conduct research culminating in a values conference where we will invite a cross section of speakers to share how the communications function has driven positive change for them.
We are going to be very busy but the areas that we are focusing on are key to moving the industry forward. And this could not be achieved without the hard-working members of the PRCA Council who will strive to make all of the above happen. I am very much looking forward to the end of the year when we will show that tangible progress has been made.
About Jules Herd:
Jules Herd is the newly appointed Chair of the PRCA Council and a seasoned brand communications expert. With over 20 years' experience working in award winning agencies Weber Shandwick and Four Communications, and as Global VP of Communications at both Deezer and HTC, Jules has developed a vast experience in the PR and communications industry. Jules is now Managing Director of Five in a Boat, a start-up specialising in transformative technology that she founded in 2018, where she shapes the future of brands at the forefront of innovation. Jules has been voted in PR Week's top global 300 PR professionals three times, and is a conference chair and keynote speaker at the European Women in Technology Summit and CMO Network.