A newspaper cutting has been doing the rounds on Twitter showing who is an ‘essential worker’ and who isn’t (according to 1,000 or so people in Singapore).
Of course, the essential workers are nurses, doctors, shopkeepers, cleaners and deliverymen (or women). Does anyone know what a Hawker is?
Who made the ‘unessential’ list, you ask? Artists, public relations professionals, telemarketers, business consultants and human resource managers.
So am I an unessential asset to the business world? Have I followed the wrong career path? Should I have studied to be a nurse or a doctor? Is my existence in the world unessential?
NO, PR ISN’T ESSENTIAL
In the middle of a worldwide pandemic, when millions of people are dying, do you think a PR professional would be deemed ‘essential’?
Who would you rather run to when it seems the world is falling down around you and people are dying at a rapid rate? A PR professional or a medical professional?
So when it comes to health and care, the essential workers are our nurses, our doctors, our ambulance workers, our care professionals and cleaners.
Those who keep the world turning are our garbage collectors, our deliverymen (or women), our healthcare professionals, our journalists and cleaners (among many others).
BUT PR IS ESSENTIAL IN A WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC TOO
Although we haven’t seen very good communications coming from America or the UK, believe it or not there are communications professionals working with Trump and Boris.
Whether it is the fault of the communications professional or the leader themselves (I can imagine Trump doesn’t really listen to the guidance of those around him), I am unsure. But these people do comms people working with them, just like every other world leader across the globe.
When there’s a crisis happening, who do you turn to? In a business sense, your first point of call should be a public relations professional or a crisis communications manager.
Not to spin things around, because believe it or not, we aren’t spin doctors, but to get a statement out there, to clear things up, to prepare a press conference and to avert a crisis happening or getting even worse.
We can look at how companies first reacted to the COVID-19 crisis, with everyone receiving emails from every company they had ever purchased from or thought of purchasing from, wishing them well and to stay safe. Was it necessary or was it just a company ticking a corporate box?
Look at how Wetherspoons handled it, and Sports Direct. Where was their communications team? Or was it the head of the company that didn’t take any guidance, much like some of our world leaders like to do?
WHY IS PR ‘ESSENTIAL’?
We always used to say in one of my old jobs that it was PR, not ER (Emergency Room). Don’t panic, stay calm and nothing was ever the end of the world.
In terms of COVID-19, it did suddenly seem like the end of the world.
Following on from the coronavirus, we saw companies once again failing to communicate when it came to Black Lives Matter protests springing up around the world.
Many companies released statements, showing their stance against racism and discrimination. Many companies once again, ticked that corporate box. But it doesn’t ever go unnoticed by consumers as they will take to Twitter and social platforms and they will tell you what they think.
Like everything, we need to look at circumstances. Working in PR for a football team isn’t all that essential when there is no football being played. Working in PR for the NHS? Well that’s an entirely different situation altogether.
WILL PR PEOPLE SAVE THE WORLD?
Probably not, but they would tell you how the company/brand they work for is planning to do so.
We do not need PR in order to survive. We need food, water (hello grocery store workers and delivery people), good hygiene (hello cleaners), good health (hello doctors and nurses) and income (hello government).
A PR professional is not going to help us personally stay alive, but they do play a part in the larger scheme of things.
A business needs PR in order to survive, but us as individuals? We can safely go without.