As a PR who’s just hopped to the wrong side of 35, I prefer to think not, writes Michelle Williams.
It’s a question that plays on my mind though, since becoming a mum especially, because whereas most of my ideas and insight used to come from being out-and-about after typical working hours, these days I have to make the most of the 9-5. And honestly, I rely on the younger team to keep me up to date on what’s happening out there.
It’s not a hardship for them, after all we work in food, drink and hospitality, and it never felt like a chore for me either. Do I miss it? Well yes, a little bit sometimes. Does it make me feel any less good at my job? Absolutely not.
Because for all martinis and margaritas that I might be missing out on, I have years (and years) of experience. I’ve dealt with countless crisis situations, broken embargoes, incredibly difficult clients (naming no names), ran events to challenge the calmest of souls and mentored many young PR hopefuls – some who make it, some who don’t. All that has to count for something.
Yet according to the PR Census 2016, the average age of those working in the industry is 28. Ouch.
So why is that? It’s a well-aired notion that the world of PR can be a stressful one, and perhaps the younger crowd have simply got the energy required to hack it, or maybe it’s because PR remains an industry dominated by women (64% according to the aforementioned study), and many of them (like me) are faced with the added challenge of how on earth to juggle all of this with childcare, and being a good parent.
Or could it be that keeping up with the digital age is too much for some? I’m not that old, but in my time on the PR beat things have changed a lot. It’s laughable to think that in my first job I literally cut coverage out of a magazine and mounted it using Pritt-stick.
But I’m convinced the solid grounding in good old fashioned comms skills, before news stories were broken on Twitter and press trips were conducted by VR, will stand any older PR professionals in good stead.
That’s the story I’m sticking to as I prepare to leave the office for a few months and go headlong into sleepless nights and nappies for the second time. I’m hoping that when I come out the other side, all that experience is still going to count.
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