Monday, June 12, 2006

Released from 40 years in bondage


An article in the FT and the steady progress of young people who know more than I do catching me up added to my thinking about values. For the PR industry, like many others, age diversity policies loom.

It all comes down to pensions in the end. Will I be wealthy enough in retirement – then the answer, of course, is no. That is until one looks at the totality of values involved. For my part, I have no intention of retiring. But if I did (when I do), there will be a set of values that will be even more important than the cash value of pension funds. I like teaching and research and will find a niche somewhere. As today it will be the rich relationships with family, friends, neighbours and the interesting books, the adventure of visiting places I have not been able to see during my working life and so forth. Modest exercise will continue with sailing (and winning races against my all too professional sailing daughter), wandering the Wiltshire Downland and achieving a state of grace with an Eden like garden. I will, no doubt, keep tugging at the CIPR beard and dunderhead practitioners who are not prepared to sustain CPD at an advanced level (not that one is suggesting that the CIPR isn't........ummm..... er – six blog posts a month! – trying).

We know from David Snowden, that active brains can remain very active into old age- to the extent that they outperform under 45's; From Sherry Willis and Warner Schaie that oldies can zip up their mental performance ahead of all except children (and keep it too) and we also know that people who have not done loads of different things, and seek the routine slow down long before they collect their fob watch. A career in press agenty might seem quite good, but a career that extends PR to its fullest and widest (corporate affairs, internal comms, investor relations, social media and all those many domains of PR practice) will produce better minds as well as better practitioners.

I know from people in the communities I have lived in that those older than me both contribute and enjoy their social environment. The driest sense of humour in the world belongs to a friend of my 89 year old mother-in-law – and you have to be very quick to follow him. I also know that work colleagues still seek out his opinions and breadth of experience two decades after retirement.

For the Public Relations industry in the UK there is a serious age diversity challenge comming later this year it may be a good idea to see what values they will be recruiting against over the next few months.

Now that PR is wriggling out from under its 40 year bondage in press agentry, it has can work at the 'top table'. This, of course goes well beyond being the Comms Person pontificating/scribbling at the table. It brings relationship management skills to the board, has a broad landscape and argues its corner when more specialist managers hold forth at length about 'our brand values' (who owns them?); our assets (tangible, intangible or relationship assets); our valuable employees (under whose roof?) and our customers (at which point/s in the 'conversation' with the organisation).

Such values are at a premium and are far from the telesales operation that infest the the floors between reception and executive suit of so many PR consultancies.


Picture: Traped