12 June, 2006

Pass the PR love to the protégés...

Wow it has been about a month since I last posted! I must break these bad habits before they become a problem.

Feeling strangely philosophical at the minute as I try to set myself on a new path. I am still job hunting - the philosophy comes from discovering more about myself and what I believe in as I sit through more interviews and fill out more application forms. Recognising your personal philosophies and goals makes this a lot easier to undertake. But more on the process of job hunting on a later date.

Whilst I have been away a couple of things have caught my eye beginning with this:

A while back now Simon posted about this CIPR Northern Conference 2006. As a non member of the CIPR, although I would like to be, I would have to fork out £185 for a ticket. As Simon points out I shouldn’t be outraged by this – after all “One of the recent PR Week conferences cost £1000+ for one-day.”

Surely this is wrong. £185 (plus VAT) is, and continues to be, a lot of money. Although obviously this will be an amazing event and if I can quote from Simon:

“The two confirmed keynotes so far include:
John Willman - UK Business Editor, Financial Times
Rob Skinner - Chief Press Officer First Direct and Marks & Spencer Money

While the three main workshops that I want to sit in on include:
PR in the voluntary sector - delivered by the team from Oxfam
The Regeneration Game - a panel discussion on the role PR plays in regeneration
Blogging and New PR - Philip Young and Stuart Bruce (but of course!)”

This is a terrific event that I and I’m sure many of my peers would love to go to. But then why put such a price tag on it so that so few of my generation of PR people can attend?

And what about the other conferences that cost £1,000 a day? Wow-ee who would you get there?

A lot has been said about the possible barriers to entry for young Public Relations practitioners, monetary being one of the biggest. The CIPR does a fantastic job to remove so many of these, with reduced rates for student and the Behind the Spin magazine.

But where is the free or reasonably priced PR love for fledgeling PR people in the form of these amazing days out? It saddens me that these price tags can be perceived as anything but ridiculous

So many Bloggers are also educators (not just the academically associated ones), and though their blogs have taught me so much, all for free. Same goes for the amazing podcasts available from forward and FIR. But despite all these amazing mediums, nothing really compares to being in the same room as someone who can impart wisdom, and the atmosphere of being at such events, and learning new information face to face.

Surely if the industry shuts out its younger members then it also shuts out their ideas and feedback, and all the things that we can teach them, all the creativity that is blocked.

I know there will be people who feel that all conferences are this expensive - from accounting to computing - so why should PR be any different? But does this really excuse it? As anyone whose mother has said 'if everyone else was jumping off a cliff would you?' can tell you - no, it doesn't.

So I suppose it is back to personal philosophy again. I just reckon that there should be greater breaks for those who are just starting out in the industry such as the students and the new PROs. And ultimately won't this will help to build a stronger, better PR industry in the future?


Simon said...

I think you are onto something, Alex. of course I justify the Northern conference - I've helped organise it. It may not be as extortionate as some corporate conferences but it is still a lot of money when you can learn from experts on the the web for free.

The media has been forced to rethink following the new media revolution... will the same happen with conferences? After all, one bigdraw of conferences is the social networking aspect.... with developments in social software will this affect the events industry?

Anyway... did I mention the third and final keynote has been confirmed as Julia Hobsbawm...?

Richard Millington said...

I think (with an entirely biased opinion mind) that it's possible the many student/post-grad pr types not embraced by the industry will still carve careers in the industry in new ways. Social media obviously, but something entirely new and, potentially, very exciting.

Samantha Wilcox said...

I completly agree with you Alex, it's hard enough to break into this industry without having to fork out potential thousands for the oppurtunity! Much as I am starting to learn from the on-line community of PR webloggers I would love the chance to meet and share with some of these industry professionals but this just may not be possible; wonder if they'll consider upping student discount?!

Bookworm said...

Hi, I'm a new reader of your blog, currently planning on entering the world of PR soon.

Funnily enough, i work in regeneration, in the voluntary sector and am a member of my charity's in-house communications team (re your points on what workshops you would want to do).

I am hoping to move away from regeneration and more towards charity communications/press relations.

Am starting the CIPR advanced certificate soon and going to the career day in november, whilst building up my own portfolio in my current role.

Totally agree with you re the pricing of conferences, i saw a great one that was £700!! Better be a bloody good buffet for that amount!!

Alex Pullin said...

Simon -
blatent plugs aside, I don't think the new media solutions will affect the events industry as much as some may think. After all I would still rather meet face to face rather than listen to their podcast or read their blog. new media will supplement the events rather than take over from.

Richard - I agree and I have been meaning to welcome you to the converstion for a while. I am really enjoying your blog.

Sam - I would love them to up the student discounts (even though I am graduating). I reckon if enough students are behind this then changes could be made, power to the people and all that.

Bookworm - Thank you and good luck with the certificate.

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