19 Jan Remove the ‘degree’ comfort blanket for more diverse and creative PR
I have long said that one of the challenges facing the communications industry is the lack of diversity in our ranks. For this, we only have ourselves to blame.
Too long we have put up an increasingly pointless barrier to entry that requires every individual looking to pursue a career in comms to have spent time at university and emerge with a piece of paper.
Immediately we have reduced the talent pool to exclude those who either felt that university was not for them. We equally push out anyone who’s circumstances meant they needed to work rather than to drink heavily (drinking heavily might just be a reflection of my experience, but I doubt I am alone), and made the sensible choice to gain valuable work experience.
This has contributed to having agencies and comms departments packed full of white, middle class individuals. While many of these individuals are talented and diligent, it does draw a question around creativity.
A strong creative team tends to have people from all walks of life contributing ideas forged from different experiences, ultimately resulting in a plethora of fine concepts and creative directions.
If that team
By looking beyond the ‘degree’ we start to tap into a more interesting and unique talent pool strengthening our creative assets. We can also avoid the tedious ‘re-teaching’ that tends to take place when PR grads discover that what they’ve learnt is not practical.
It’s not an enormous leap of faith, just take the recent news from Penguin Random House as an example of an organisation embracing a new approach to hiring.
Ultimately we stand to gain a lot more than we risk to lose. So long as we have a robust interview process in place that looks at character as well as skill set, we will be able to discover the gems within society who may have previously considered the comms industry out of reach.