There’s never been a better time to have a cause that you’re passionate about while working in PR. Over the past year we’ve seen a range of environmental and social issues play out that have sparked debate, dialogue and protest.
I write this the day after the anniversary of the first UK lockdown, a period in which it has been impossible to distract from the zeitgeist moments that have triggered shock, anger, empathy and every emotion in between.
In our personal lives we’re all fighting for the causes we care about. But as trusted advisors to our clients we are in the fortunate position of having opportunities every day to talk to key business stakeholders and help guide them towards becoming a better business.
In recent years there has been a growing understanding in global boardrooms about the impact that reputation and communications has on a business’s bottom line. In early 2020 Laurence Fink, the founder and CEO of BlackRock announced that his firm would proactively avoid investments in companies that ‘present a high sustainability-related risk.’ Many firms have followed suit, meaning that Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategies are quickly creeping up the priority list for senior leadership teams.
Another interesting comms area that is going through a period of growth and change at the moment is Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), as businesses look to add another important word into the mix: equity. D&I in its early form, while well meaning, had been criticised for focusing on workforce representation as a percentage point. Equity is more than workforce representation or an inclusive culture – it is about how an organization applies its business, operations and voice to advance diversity equity and inclusion. As well as being a moral imperative, diversity and equity in an organisation is also a business imperative, with studies showing time and time again that diverse companies are more successful, attract better talent and draw more customers.
With these key corporate comms initiatives gaining traction there has never been a more inspiring, challenging time to work in PR. There are so many opportunities for us to educate ourselves and our clients on what is going on in the world and where they can take a stand that creates a ripple of positive change in their respective industries.
A client I worked with once likened comms professionals as the conscience of the organisations that they represent. This has stuck with me and I strongly believe that as comms professionals working within PR agencies that we should see ourselves as an extension of this and provide the counsel and tools that clients need to be brave and bold in how they advocate for and celebrate positive change inside and outside their organisation.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, it’s often a slow burn that requires many hands and voices to turn it into a blaze. So, to my colleagues and fellow comms professionals, I encourage you this year to take the time to share the stories that matter to you with clients and colleagues, to educate yourselves and those around you about the areas that you are passionate about, and in your own way create a positive change in 2021.