Despite believing that the value of PR ought to be better recognised in the current economic situation, I know that the reality for many people is a very tough year ahead.
On the career front, the MIPAA JobSearch was very buoyant with more posts than applicants throughout 2008, but we are seeing this reverse. So we’re shifting our attention to advice and other ways that we can support members through the tough times ahead.
This applies not only to those who are facing redundancy, but to companies with significant budget cuts to implement, as well as individual members who are trying to make every penny count.
Can they justify membership of a professional body? Of course some people won’t – but we believe this is just the time when you need friends and the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association aims to focus on adding value for as little outlay as possible.
But will training, even at our excellent low rates, be out of the budgets? I hope not, because failing to invest even a small amount in development at these times is worse than short sighted. If we’ve never faced times like this (and many people haven’t), then new approaches, best practices, enhanced skills and smarter ideas are going to be essential. You need to keep the saw sharpened as Stephen Covey reminds us.
We are all having to look at income and outgoings differently – for MIPAA this means the advertising revenue to produce our annual directory may not be enough to cover costs. So we need to rethink our model – should we offer up adverts on a “pay what you can” basis or if advertising is a budget no-no, can we resell the opportunity in a different way, or can our members help by finding new sponsors from their own contacts and suppliers?
At the same time, networking will undoubtedly be frowned upon as everyone tries to be seen working hard at their desks. But personal contacts are essential – with strong relationships truly helping you deliver more for less. Maybe we need to shift networking online – with virtual training and meetings. That misses the opportunity for face to face contact, but will avoid us incurring costs if events and workshops are not financially viable.
In the motoring industry, there have been a lot of nice to do events, particularly organised by journalist groups, which will be unlikely to go ahead next year. Again, this needs a rethink so the baby doesn’t get lost with the dirty bath water. Can they be merged? Can these events double up as low budget launches?
There are other ways we can add value – with mentoring, working together and “bartering” where we can swap, say training venues for free places.
It is likely that many people will batten down the hatches and hope just to weather the storm that’s coming our way – but I believe we need others to help us through. Our professional bodies should be there when times are tough – that’s my plan for MIPAA anyway.