As depressing report after depressing report show gender pay parity being a distant dream, working mothers leaving professional roles and returning at lower grades (if they come back at all), the #metoo movement, and of course, Brexit, it could all get very depressing.
However, there is some good news. And as you might expect from the land where the sun always shines (PR) here comes a PR expert to explain why using PR to your own ends can help working women to both develop and future-proof their careers. *Spoiler – you still need to be good at your job.
As the founder and managing director of a PR agency, I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs in my career. I’ve been made redundant, sacked, laughed at as a just-out-of law school 20something by the managing partner of a law firm for suggesting an ‘outrageous’ marketing initiative (that remains a good idea all these years later). I’ve had doors slammed in my face – both actual and metaphorical – and I have not only survived, but thrived. But being good at my own PR has helped. It has not only created external validation about the quality of my work, but also enabled me to combat certain inhibitions and build a strong personal brand.
So how can we use PR to help in our careers? PR or communications is all about influencing or changing perceptions amongst identified target audiences. These could include work colleagues, clients or your management team for example.
The first step in any PR campaign is to work out your measurable objective – so that could mean finding a new job in three months, securing a promotion by Christmas, or signing on three new clients during 2019.
Once you have an objective and identified target audiences, the next step is to consider your tactics. Tactics are the means by which we meet the objective and can include speaking opportunities, media relations, social media, online channels or awards. For any working women, in any role, the key to utilising PR in order to protect and enhance their career, is to work out which tactics will help them to reach their objective as quickly and easily, and most effectively as possible.
Going into more detail, speaking opportunities abound for female experts – there is real pressure at the moment on conference organisers to find female speakers (and rightly so, we are 50% of the population, after all!) Here lies some great low-hanging fruit. So go and take it. If you’re an expert, get out there and put yourself forward.
Awards – another great opportunity to showcase expertise. Just ensure any award you enter is a credible, well-judged one. Some are just popularity contests that rely upon votes to decide the winner so avoid those like the plague.
Media relations – not just getting on the telly (although grab those opportunities with both hands), but also trade publications, local media, radio and websites like this one. If you have something to say that is timely and in the readership’s interest, find out who you need to speak to, and put yourself forward. What have you possibly got to lose?
Many women avoid putting themselves forward for opportunities that will put them in the spotlight, and I completely understand why. It can be terrifying, but it is true that the more you do it, the easier it gets. On the flip side though, seizing these chances can provide an exceptional confidence boost. For the self-employed; PR can help raise awareness of your business and expertise amongst potential clients, or underline these for existing clients. For the employed, they may help raise awareness of your work at higher management levels within the business (hello promotion!) For both, they can lead to further opportunities to showcase yourself in the future.
Whatever your reason for reading this article, I can’t emphasise strongly enough the benefits that even just a little PR-ing of yourself can bring to you and your career.
About the author
Victoria Moffatt is the founder and managing director of LexRex Communications. A former lawyer and Chart.PR, Victoria combines legal expertise with strategic PR expertise to ensure LexRex delivers outstanding PR and communications to boutique law firms and businesses that operate in the UK legal services market.