The biggest differentiator we have in PR is our people. Of course, there are things that set apart one agency from another, one team from another, one approach from another – but the best way to consider an agency to join or appoint is to look at its people. Have they got the energy, the intelligence, the ability and the attitude you want to be part of? Are they open to making space for new things, different people, and diverse ways of thinking?
In the PR industry, there isn’t a mould for what we deliver for clients – so there can’t be a mould for the people we need to deliver it. We have to embrace a multitude of experiences and seek out diversity of learning, be that formal education or of life, to build teams that can best deliver the variety and originality our clients need. A degree doesn’t guarantee that.
While there is still a strong pull for a traditional learning path of higher education to enter PR (in many cases followed by established degree-dependent employment application processes), it’s not a requirement and it’s not the only way in. Some of the most impactful colleagues and different thinkers I’ve worked with haven’t been university educated; they’ve come from the merchant navy, have been self-starter assistants, or begun their careers as apprentices. Without exception, they’ve had phenomenal aptitudes to learn, contribute, and deliver.
‘Glocalisation’ of industry and culture has completely changed the way we live, the way we work, and the way we learn. At the touch of a button, we’re connected to champions of businesses, causes, and communities who influence what we think and do, teaching us about their worlds in real-time. For the curious among us, it’s another way to learn and be inspired – making the set of encyclopaedias my grandparents had to seem archaic and the fact we poured over them for school and university assignments, comical.
These new ways of learning don’t diminish the need to be articulate, have strong comprehension skills, and be creative – but they remind us there are more ways to be intelligent than earning a degree. This is something we have understood in the communications sector for some time and we’re beginning to see elsewhere too. PwC has most recently become the poster child for change, announcing earlier this month that it would no longer require a first or a 2:1 (the highest levels of university results in the UK) to be a successful graduate applicant at the firm. By reducing the entry results level requirement, they hope to welcome students from a broader range of backgrounds and increase the diversity of the workforce. It’s a shame that PwC has been missing that dynamic in their workforce until now, but it’s a welcome and positive move to rate intelligence beyond purely academic results.
So whether you read Politics, History or English, or study vocationally in communications at university, or travel a completely different path and take advantage of apprenticeships or work experience programmes, there is a place for you in PR. We want to work with sharp thinkers, storytellers, creative minds and people who out-think problems to get things done. People who will always be curious, keen, and ready to put the effort in to learn. Every. Day.