If you’ve missed me, I’ve been in Sofia, Bulgaria, teaching the CIPR Diploma qualification. I was invited by Nelly Benova from Apeiron Communication – and I am really impressed with her commitment to improving the skills and professionalism of PR practitioners in this interesting part of southern Europe.
I had hoped to blog whilst there, but frankly, my schedule was packed with delivering seminars on the value of PR theory, systems perspective, stakeholder theory, ethical approaches to PR and so on. Free time was spent enjoying Bulgarian food (great veggie choices), red wine and the great company of Nelly and the students. I also had time to catch up with Aneta Stafanova who was a distance learner on the course with me last year, which was an added bonus.
Some very exciting things are going on in public relations in many countries – and it is useful to discuss and challenge the existing paradigms of the practice. Unfortunately, there are many examples of press agentry in Bulgaria, but the opportunities to demonstrate excellent approaches are also there.
As in the debate on gender in PR started by Richard Bailey, Bulgarian PR is female dominated – which has an impact on the value placed on the practice. I’m familiar with feminist theories through the work of one of my 4th year undergraduates from Bournemouth University. Unfortunately it seems that today PR is less respected despite – even because – it is dominated by young female graduates than when it was populated by unqualified men. Such women are all too often seen as much less able than the likes of Max Clifford and Alistair Campbell – who lie and spin with such ease.
PR is not alone in this – but in my view, little is done by the Universities and bodies such as CIPR, to show the breadth and depth of the profession which makes it a great career choice for both genders.
Not least, PR practitioners have never had so much potential to develop an international career, or to be taken seriously in organisations. On my flight home yesterday, I chatted with a finance guy from Istanbul who regularly visited Sofia although he was based in London. He told me that although he didn’t know a lot about PR, his company’s reputation was its most valuable asset – and he realised the need to invest in the best expert counsel in this regard that they could afford. He recognised PR was a necessary expenditure in his accounts.
If the suits in accounts realise this – then we should be ensuring more young guys considering career choices have public relations on their list of options.