Why PR support in COVID times is cheaper and easier for businesses, and where to find it

By Jim James,
Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

It’s a great time to go "shopping" if you’re thinking about PR support for your company. No matter how big or small your company is, it’s always useful to have a consultant that has practical experience, great media relations, and gives you an extra set of hands to go and engage with public relations. According to Francis Ingham, the Director General at the Public Relations & Communications Council in the UK, there are 100,000 people employed within the industry or mainstream agencies, and 20,000 of those were furloughed with Inham predicting that at least 5,000 of those will not be going back to work. This means that for companies looking for some extra support, there’s going to be a flood of people that can help them.

Where to find the perfect consultant or apprentice

At the start of 2020, there were 2 million freelancers working in the UK, and these freelancers can be found on platforms like Fiverr, UpworkPeoplePerHoure, and more. One problem with findings freelancers on those sites though is that when you post on there, it can take as long to find a consultant as it does to have the consultant do the work. One of the places that you can look is The Work Crowd. It’s based in the UK, and it boasts 3,100+ registered and vetted PR freelancerss, with the numbers constantly increasing. Around the world, the options for public relations are infinite. If you want specialist platforms, there are websites like Shortlist and CreativeHunt that actually do agency recruitment, and others like Telum MediaMarketing Interactive, and PR Week. They all have directories available and job postings that you can use. There is also the Outsource School, which offers a whole bunch of methodologies for how to select virtual assistant tools and templates that you can give to the assistant when it comes to things like tasks, lists, and so on.

Another opportunity, if you think that you know more about what you want to do and could just have someone in-house do it for you, is the new apprenticeship funded in the UK, similar to a digital marketing apprenticeship. Through this, young people in the UK are getting skills training funded largely by the UK Government as long as a company like EASTWEST PR is willing to support them for 15 months. Young learners will get access to what they call the Cloud Academy and its tech labs, and do online learning whilst they are working with an agency. And because they don’t need to physically go to school, these students can study online and work online too. The young learners on this UK Cloud Academy program will have 15 days of classroom training throughout the 15 months. Over that period of time, they’re only gone for one workday a month. This is the great part: if you have a company already, the government will cover 100% of the apprenticeship training program for a young apprentice between 16 and 18, and they’ll cover 95% if they’re over 19. Although there is a minimal fee which can be considered an apprenticeship fee, these young people looking for work can work for you virtually for free. There’s no better way to invest money by putting it into the pockets of a young person that can be trained in an industry. If you’ve got dedicated work that needs to be done and you can offer mentorship and leadership, this apprenticeship could really be a great addition to your business.

In Singapore, the government is helping older people get back into the workforce, which they are funding too, so that people in their 60s, people that have retired or have been forced to retire, now have government funds that enables them to retrain. And so, these are proving to be great initiatives by governments as they create financing to help people both young and old get into the workplace. 

Why is it about public relations?

It’s about public relations, because often, when cutting costs and laying off staff, leaders cut off one of the most important parts of the business: communication. But with these solutions, you can get a public relations specialist from a pool of educated and trained PR people on freelance websites. This will also allow you to take advantage of one of the many young people in the UK or in your own country that need to get back into the workforce.

In public relations, a lot of the work is on the messaging and the thought leadership. That’s something that really only the founder can do, but getting that message into text, video, or audio are skill sets for reformatting and distribution which young people and old people can bring to bear for the business. With the financial conditions brought about by COVID, it gives entrepreneurs the chance to develop skills and impart lessons in the young workforce and it gives people an opportunity to get back into work. This will be a chance to reinvent the businesses and rejuvenate the public relations work as the landscapes have changed so dramatically.

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo by Engin Akyurt on Unsplash

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