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Stop ineffective public relations mentoring schemes

Mentoring schemes are failing the public relations business according to Hotwire’s John Brown in a call for grassroots thinking.

By John Brown, @brownbare

John-Brown

I’ve talked before about the need for more diversity in PR. We’re an industry that can’t see beyond the middle-class graduate and in the long run, this myopic view of the talent pool is going to bury us.

But hang on a sec. What about mentorship schemes? Surely these 30 minute flat-white fuelled, back-slapping banter fests will help to get ‘different’ youngsters coming through the ranks and fill our desks with a rich tapestry of talent?

Bullshit.

Most of our industry mentorship schemes only want to put an arm around you if you’re wearing a slim-fit H&M sweater and smell of organic chia seeds. They’re geared towards shepherding more of the same, not nurturing new talent.

‘There are a handful of mentorship schemes that are trying to diversify the workforce. The Taylor Bennett foundation being a great, but sadly, lonely example.

It’s time we made a solid commitment to changing the way we mentor. We need to break down the barriers to our industry and smash through the misconception that you need a credit card and a degree to get into public relations.

Here’s how I reckon we should start:

#1 Grassroots

We need to lay out our industry stalls before university. We should be showcasing that a creative, exciting and rewarding career is accessible to those who are willing to put in the time. Mentorship should start at school.

#2 Ditch the degree

You can choose to go to university, and that’s fine. You just don’t have to go to university to get a job in comms. If one of the world’s most significant publishers can have the balls to do it, so can public relations.

#3 Develop structured mentoring

Let’s put our heads together and work out what an individual would need early on in life to prepare them for a career in communications. It will be more than a quarterly catch-up. Crowdsource reading material and make it available, develop workshops and deliver them for free, assign mentors from similar backgrounds/regions.

#4 Measure, monitor, adapt

A lot of mentorship schemes stop at the point of when a mentor is assigned. Job done? No way near. A regular review should be in place to ensure that the mentorship scheme is working, that needs are being fulfilled. Why stick with the same mentor if you’ve learnt what you can?

Let’s just do this hey?

If you’re interested to get involved, I’m having a few beers at the Crown & Two Chairman in Soho London from 7pm on 23 March to discuss what needs to be done and how we’re going to do it. See Mentoring with PRpose for further information.

About John Brown

John is a director and head of engagement at Hotwire. He’s a lover of food, Turkey and the outdoors. You can stalk him on Twitter @brownbare.

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Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.

2 Comments

  1. Completely agree. Mentoring and reaching out to the next generation should begin well before the university circuit gets access to the talent pool. When recruiting I’ve looked at enthusiasm, tenacity and creativity long before the MA or PhD. The industry needs evolve faster than trends and have reacted before they mature. Non-traditional recruiting is the way forward. From experience, I learned more at the age of 15 from a Fleet St mentor than I ever did at college. We must look at interns and work experience students not as cheap labour, but as future Directors from the start. Engage, challenge, learn from them, repeat.

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