Connections help the PR world go round

I’ve just received an email from someone I met very briefly at the CIPR Wessex annual “Meet the PR Professionals” event at the start of this year.  She was thanking me for an introduction I made to a consultancy, Automotive PR – where she successfully undertook work experience over the Summer.

It is interesting how someone’s career can depend on such small moments – but at the heart of this connection is something that I love about PR. 

Judy (Qian) Wang was a great networker – she was studying for a Masters at Bournemouth University and used the CIPR evening event as an opportunity to meet with local PR professionals and get their advice. 

It is surprising how few PRs realise the importance of building contacts – for example, only a small percentage of the invited 1st and 2nd year Undergraduate students come along to the evening, which could seriously help them secure a work placement opportunity, as well as improving their understanding for their studies.

The reason that Judy’s networking with me was so successful is that I am also a bit of a connector (see Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point).  Through my various roles – and years in PR – I know a lot of people, across a number of circles.  So it was relatively easy for me to think that this might be a useful introduction as I knew Automotive PR are always keen to hear from bright practitioners, especially with Chinese language skills.

This “small world” or six degrees of separation concept is key in PR.  Knowing who to call when you need help, and being a valuable contact readily available for others to call when they need help is part of effective interpersonal relationship building.

Stephen Covey relates this to an emotional bank account – a useful reminder of how we build trust with others, not least by one of his habits: seek first to understand then to be understood.

My role in brokering work experience between Judy and Automotive PR also demonstrates how everything we do in PR doesn’t have to be about an immediate exchange result for ourselves. 

Helping others – even with no instant benefit for yourself – is also essential in relationships, especially if you wish to build trust. 

Now if only a few more businesses, politicians and others would recognise this, wouldn’t we be a step closer to restoring some of the trust that has been harmed by their less than altruistic actions?

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.