26 July 2010 By Northern Lights
by Gabriel St Aimee, Intern at Northern Lights PR
Without intending to evangelise, PR is needed for the BME community, not just for diversity but for the industry – despite the current debate.
PR could be used to alleviate the overly saturated careers, which the BME community is drawn to. Law is just one example of an overly saturated profession which is idealised among the BME community.
Being a BME myself I can safely say that PR needs PR among the BME community because it is not considered a career goal.
The truth of the matter is that PR is not a career pursued by the black community because it is not respectable – obviously I do not mean to cause any offence.
The BME community is very concerned about standing and PR just has not grabbed their attention. PR is nowhere on the radar. Every black person has a family member who is a doctor, lawyer, secretary or business owner.
What I thought of comms.
I did not know that communications was a career. It is not a publicised field as most PR practitioners come from writing backgrounds – no one comes directly into PR. When I thought of PR Aaron Eckhart “Thank you for smoking”, and Alastair Campbell came to mind. I knew that there was an element of creativity and networking but for some reason I did not think of the positive elements.
What you think now
When I think about communications now, I realise that I had the wrong idea. Communications is not advertising – it is also about communicating with a redundant workforce or a charity organisation. Mostly communications can be used to reach, those who are socially excluded.
How you can see the importance for the UK generally
Without good communications, people will continue to be excluded – whether from trains, products or government services. If more people from BME communities look at careers in communications, it can only be good for the country. I am not intending to be sanctimonious as one of the Northern Lights interns. However everyone is able to provide valuable insights- in a field where creativity is the linchpin, diversity cannot be undervalued.
PR requires the best possible candidates for the job. As the field of PR currently stands it is not possible that PR in the UK is the best it can be. The Northern Lights internship programme is designed to give BME graduates experience in PR by working on real projects. The projects completed for Northern Rail, Hallmark and Bradford University were all completed to a professional standard in three weeks.
Public relations is in every sphere of the working world, it just cannot be avoided. Relating to one another is something every individual does. Conversely PR practitioners do it on a wider scale through networking.
My view on the PR Week article: PR Agency Bosses Reject Idea Of Quotas In Drive To Improve Diversity
Introducing quotas into the PR industry is not the answer because I do not believe the industry would meet any quotas without change. Improving diversity within PR is a long term project that needs genuine commitment from organisations and industry.
Diversity needs to be real – any piecemeal actions would only put BMEs off PR.
Therefore programmes like the Northern Lights internship and Taylor Bennett’s Brunswick internship are the way forward. They are tackling the main issue affecting diversity in PR – practical experience. There is no doubt in my mind that BME graduates would help business and can be the foundations for a BME Prime Minister.
Don’t you think?