What 18 years as a freelancer has taught me

By Judith Gaskell

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This month marks 18 years since I became an independent consultant; a sort of coming of age you could say. So to celebrate freelance maturity I thought I’d share 18 observations I’ve made during this time.

  1. The majority of business will to come from people you already know, or people who know them (but occasionally they will find you on Google).
  2. The most enthusiastic and urgent potential new client is likely to be the one that comes to nothing.
  3. Remember, your contacts are the tools of your trade so guard them carefully. I’ve been offered an hour’s fee for spending an hour giving away all my contacts (my refusal there turned into a long term client!) and asked for my full contacts list when a contract came to an end (I politely declined).
  4. It’s a tricky balancing act giving enough information to win the business and not so much they could do it without you!
  5. A client can decide to appoint you more than two years after the first meeting.
  6. The less work you have the fitter you are (time for daytime exercise classes!)
  7. If it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t (arranging to meet the guy whose ‘wife’ was starting a website selling ‘adult products’ in Starbucks?) .
  8. While you can’t afford daylong training courses in London you can get so much from the cpd available from CIPR.
  9. You can get so much support fromother pr people. The people I’ve met through the CIPR Connects in Cambridge have proved to be great sounding boards, inspirational and great fun to be around!
  10. You’ll no longer specialise. People often ask me what my specialist area is but after 18 years I’ve pretty much done it all!
  11. You’ll have your one ‘meeting outfit’ and spend the rest of the time in jeans or gym clothes.
  12. When you do spend time in an office you’ll realise how things have changed. When did everyone start sitting at their computers with headphones permanently on (causing some very one sided conversations on my part) or tappng away at laptops in meetings?
  13. You’ll find skills you didn’t know you had. When asked if I could find 60 social media influencers to come to an event I made sure I could (helped by a great session at the CIPR East Anglia Conference).
  14. On occasion you’ll bore those you live with stupid about the minutiae of your day because you’ve not spoken to anyone else!
  15. You’ll undersell yourself on occasion, but you’ll learn from that experience.
  16. You’ll wonder who the people are who get work from agencies who promise to link clients with freelancers (and you’ll have the ignominy of being rejected by an algorithm for one!)
  17. While you won’t get the stress that comes from working for others you will feel stressed when you’ve too much work (and don’t know whether to turn it away) or too little you worry about paying the bills.
  18. You’ll know it was the right move because you got to work with some great people on some great projects and were still there for all the milestones of your daughter growing up!

Judith Gaskell http://www.cambridgepr.biz

“Let’s be loud and proud about our commitment to continuous learning” – Chair’s reflections on 2018-9

By Becky Hall, Chair of CIPR East Anglia 2018-19

It has been a lively and memorable eighteen months for CIPR East Anglia. As we congratulate and welcome in the newly elected committee who will lead activities for 2020, I want to take the opportunity to humblebrag tell you about some of the highlights from the last year and a half and thank the brilliant team of switched-on and dedicated volunteers who made it all happen.

Engaging our local community of CIPR members

The committee of nine delivered 11 learning events where both members and non-members got together to learn about topics from artificial intelligence to change communications to LinkedIn.

The committee also hosted over 20 free Connect events for people working in communications to meet up informally in Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds, Colchester, Chelmsford, Peterborough, Norwich and Ipswich. The most active areas for these events continue to be Cambridge and Bury, with a growing network in Norwich. The areas that currently have a smaller network but huge potential for growth are Peterborough and Ipswich – get in touch if you want to help us get people together in these areas!

Wellbeing

There has been a concerted effort to give members opportunities to engage with the issue of mental health. The University of Cambridge hosted a popular event for us in October 2018 where two members shared experiences and knowledge of monitoring and managing wellbeing for ourselves and others. Following this, the 2019 conference programme included a breakout session on the topic and we have published and shared three blogs written by members about how communications people can take care of their mental health. Let’s keep this conversation going – do get involved.

Local members and their professional development

More and more of our ~540 members are investing in their professional development and making use of the CIPR’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) resources, though in the 2018/19 cycle only one in three members had logged enough CPD points to complete the cycle and work towards becoming Accredited. Let’s be loud and proud about our commitment to continuous learning and encourage other members to log those all important 60 points before Spring 2020!

Professionalising PR continues to be one of the CIPR’s priorities and the great news is there was a significant increase in the number of people in our region becoming Chartered members between 2018 and 2019 following awareness campaigns nationally and locally. Get in touch if you are considering Chartership and would like to speak to somebody who has recently experienced the process. Email CIPREastAnglia@gmail.com

Awards

The PRide Awards continues to be a highlight of the year for many PR practitioners in the East Anglia and Thames and Chiltern regions, and, encouragingly, entries increased significantly in 2018 compared to 2017 which indicates teams are proud and confident of the value they bring to organisations. As, across the country, there are more and more industry PR awards emerging, the East Anglia committee will continue to work hard to make sure local comms pros know how they and/or their organisation would benefit from entering PRide. There’s a huge amount of comms talent in the region – let’s get it formally recognised and celebrate it!

Check out the 2019 shortlist

Charity

After working with two charities in 2016, 2017 and 2018 as part of the GiveBack scheme, the committee has updated how the scheme works for charities and volunteers so that charities get even more bespoke communications support and volunteers can be sure that they pro bono communications support they will be offering is in the areas of interest to them. 

Want to offer some pro bono communications support? Email CIPREastAnglia@gmail.com

Online community

East Anglia has an active and lively Twitter presence and there continues to be lively chat and debate between @CIPR_EastAnglia and members. The 2018 and 2019 conferences’ hashtags trended locally which was fantastic.

To prompt conversations online, the committee has posted 15 blogs written by members on www.ciprea.org and the Facebook group continues to be used by committee members to share news and blogs. There is potential for the Facebook group to be used more by members when they have challenges or ideas that they could talk about with peers.

Thank you

I am really proud of what the committee has delivered over the last eighteen months and thank our network of members who have presented at or shared knowledge at our events and webinars; judged entries for the PRide Awards; written blogs; hosted events at their offices and kept our regular meetups alive and kicking at local pubs across the region!

Here’s to another great year for communications professionals in East Anglia.

Why we need to take better care of our mental health

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By Lucy Wright, Media Officer at Greater Anglia

This week the CIPR has launched resources to help PRs with their mental health.

A new skills guide and a webinar, developed with the mental health charity Mind, has been designed to help employers build a working environment that supports positive mental health and advises practitioners on how to take care of their mental wellbeing.

The guide, which is available free of charge on the CIPR website, includes guidance for organisations, managers and individuals – including independent practitioners and a link to resources which can help anyone in need.

I believe this is something which is very much needed in our industry.

Earlier this year at the CIPR East Anglia conference, Leanne Ehren held a session about wellbeing and creativity. Many comms professionals deal with trauma in their working life or suffer from stress and burnout.

During the session Leanne told us that 60% of people in our profession has been diagnosed with a mental illness – and this number is on the rise.

The group listed ways in which work had an adverse effect on their wellbeing from working long hours, being on call, long commutes, workload and loneliness.

We then suggested ways to tackle these – those who felt lonely could collaborate with other freelancers, enforced breaks, downtime with the team and flexible working.

There is an expectation that comms people will always be bright and happy – we are often seen as ‘fixers’ – but sometimes this preconception couldn’t be further from the truth.

Over the past few weeks with the summer well underway, there has been a lot of discussion about checking emails while on annual leave, with many admitting to checking their emails daily when they are on holiday. If you really must keep in touch with the office, maybe have a fixed time every day, that way you can manage expectations, fully devote a small pocked of time to work and then fully enjoy the rest of the day.

I would encourage everyone to look at the guide, put aside some time to complete the webinar and think how you can better care for your mental health.

It’s so important to put yourself first – go for walks, eat lunch away from your desk, turn your phone off at a reasonable hour, and fully enjoy time spent away from the office because ultimately, we are the ones who will pay the price if we don’t.

How do you care for your mental health? What strategies help you at work?

 

Inspirational and practical insight at #BestPRactice19

By Adam Driver, Senior Associate – Client Services at Cambridge-based content marketing agency CPL.

A few weeks on from the sixth Best PRactice conference, this time in sunny Norwich, and I’m adding a different perspective to Jon Wilcox’s blog. I’ve been reflecting on the benefits of hearing from key industry experts in one place, and the sharing of experiences with other PR professionals.

What a fantastic afternoon in Norwich, with PR and comms professionals from across the East of England coming together to learn, share best practice and meet fellow practitioners – be that in-house at local gov, NHS, charity, or other organisations, working for privately owned firms, freelancers or agency-side.

This was the third CIPR East Anglia conference I’ve attended, and was the best – so far. More on why, below.

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It’s at this point I should point out that, although I’m on the East Anglia committee, I take no credit for this wonderful event. I simply ran social media on the lead up to the event and on the day (it was great to see #BestPRactice19 trending on Twitter!). Huge congratulations and thanks to the whole team – especially Charlotte Stratta of Norwich City Council – who organised a fantastic conference.

Additional thanks to the event sponsor Brand Recruitment, the (apt) National Centre for Writing for helping us hold the event at the beautiful Dragon Hall, and to SGA Video and Events for documenting the day.

So, why so good?

Inspirational speakers

A huge thank you to all the speakers, some of whom travelled a long way to come and engage with us. Everyone was superb, kept the audience engaged and interactive, and left us with great takeaways.

For me, hearing the no-holds-barred approach to professionalising communications from CIPR UK President Elect Jenni Field was really motivating – chiming with a lot of my own personal thoughts on the state of the PR industry at the moment. Looking forward to her getting stuck in soon.

Secondly, I was really pleased to hear Asif Choudry, founder of #CommsHero, give an inspirational talk about how we should ‘dare to fail’, take risks and celebrate our successes. Thanks for taking the time Asif, especially during Ramadan.

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Practical takeaways

For me, living and working much of my time on social, Darren Caveney’s enlightening presentation on Supercharged Social Media was a highlight. Some great examples of organisations punching well above their weight, owning their topics and conversations.

Other sessions I attended included Advita Patel’s in-depth look at communications for change (a very relevant topic for lots of us), influencer expert Harry Seaton, who walked an initially-wary audience through the value (and measurement) of influencing, Leanne Ehren (below) with her superb take on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, and Sally Beadle’s explanation of her evolving producer’s role at BBC Look East – which all went down well.

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Faces to names (Twitter handles)

Too many people to name check individually, but I loved meeting so many people I’d connected with online, IRL.

Living in the East means that connecting and chatting with other comms folk is sometimes challenging. We make it work, however, and events like this are great or facilitating those conversations and prompting networking, ideas and (sometimes) a good moan. Us comms people have to stick together!

Look forward to seeing more of you at CIPR connect events (in pubs?) around the region this summer.

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Insight, foresight, more sight

DJ Shadow sums up my feelings on the conference there – we came, we learnt, we got inspired and we looked ahead. The future of our beloved industry is in a state of flux, but with proponents such as Jenni (direct, authentic leadership for her presidency) at the helm, I am very excited to continue my professional journey to become a chartered PR professional.

What next?

Onto the next event – check here for local meet ups near you, and sign up to Eventbrite to be kept in the loop for other events coming up soon (including a maximising LinkedIn session from yours truly in July).

Thoughts on the Best PRactice Conference… from a non-member (oo!)

By Jon Wilcox, Senior Communications Manager at Cambridge-based computer games studio Jagex. He is also co-founder of Cambridgeshire-based comms networking group PR Hub and co-host of its spin-off podcast, The PR Hub Podcast.

The sixth CIPR East Anglia Best PRactice Conference took place in Norwich yesterday, having uprooted itself from its previously established home of Cambridge. Taking place – rather aptly – at the delightful National Centre of Writing, the event welcomed practitioners from across the region to hear speakers discuss topics as diverse as influencer marketing and managing online crisis communications, to internal communications and mental health in the industry.

At this point I’m going to hold my hand up and make a couple of admissions: firstly, I’m not a member of the CIPR (or any industry body for that matter); and secondly, this was my first CIPR conference and so was unsure about what to expect.

It. Did. Not. Disappoint.

After a warm welcome from regional chair Becky Hall, CIPR president-elect Jenni Field took the mic to discuss for the very first time her plans for the organisation during her term in 2020. In a speech that was palpably honest about the current state of the wider organisation and its members, Field set out a robust slate of objectives that will need to be focused on beyond her 12-month term. Her ambition, to promote and improve professional conduct among CIPR members, as well as plug the skills gaps that exist in the PR industry, is admirable and should be supported by members and fellows alike. It will be absolutely fascinating to watch her strive to implement them next year, and I for one wish her and the CIPR the very best of luck – when accomplished, the industry as a whole will be all the better for their efforts.

The mix of keynote speakers throughout the afternoon couldn’t be faulted, with Comms2Point0’s Darren Caveney talk about supercharging social media revealing the very interesting – and in the case of Doncaster Council’s Twitter account, amusing – ways in which using social channels continue to evolve. Sally Beadle, senior producer at BBC Look East, discussed how its regional news programmes are looking to stay relevant in the face of increasing challenges including an aging demographic and changing ways in which we consume our news; while Asif Choudry’s insight into how his company’s Comms Hero conferencing brand came about, and continues to go from strength-to-strength, showed exactly how practitioners should approach networking.

Away from the keynotes were the breakout workshops. Six were on offer over two sessions, and there were some difficult choices to make; I attended the very open and honest talk from Leanne Ehren about the increasing strain and toll on practioners’ mental health in the workplace, which was very apt given the conference too place during Mental Health Awareness Week. Ehren’s workshop, which saw attendees discuss the causes and solutions of mental ill health in the workplace, was incredibly useful. As an industry we find ourselves under increasing stress, so to share peer-to-peer advice on how to manage workplace pressure was invaluable. Finally, Helpful Digital’s Alasdair Dick offered a glimpse into the fast-paced world of managing crisis communications online which follows tried and tested tenets, but potentially at a speed several magnitudes faster than most would perhaps realise.

With the final workshop of the afternoon complete came the chance to network with fellow comms professionals over a drink before catching the train. Having completed my first CIPR East Anglia conference, I was left contemplating my key takeaway from the event…

… And my overriding thought? That there is an indelible eagerness among practitioners across the region to do their very best, to continue developing their skills and share their learnings, regardless of the industry sector and discipline in which they work. For me, it was both reassuring and affirming. It was a really interesting and valuable afternoon spent in Norwich, my thanks to the organising team at the CIPR East Anglia for their collective effort. I’m already looking forward to booking my conference ticket next year.

 

“It boosted my confidence and has opened up a lot of opportunities” – Enter this year’s PRide Awards

This guest blog is by Lucy Wright, Press Officer at Greater Anglia and Young Communicator of the Year 2018

Last year, I was named Outstanding Young Communicator of the Year for the Anglia, Thames and Chiltern Region. 

I’ve worked as a press officer at Greater Anglia for four years. Prior to this, I worked in communications for another global transport operator and I was a journalist on a daily newspaper for three years.

Working in railway comms can be very challenging. Following an incredibly busy year dealing with industrial action which was a very public and sensitive issue, leading a rail safety campaign and working as part of a small team running a busy press office, it felt like a good time to enter the awards.

I applied for the award earlier in the summer and the application was in two parts – a written submission and an interview.

PRide Awards

The written application focused on my commitment to Continuing Professional Development, work-related achievements and how they related to the industry, challenges I had faced at work and details of a campaign which had gone well.

One of my most effective campaigns was about rail safety. Although the UK operates the safest railway in Europe, we suffer a number of incidents which are avoidable, such as trespass, train surfing and fly tipping on the railway. All of these are highly dangerous, delay trains and cost the industry millions of pounds every year.

Submitting your award entry

When writing an award application, it’s really important to include details of measurement and evaluation and how this relates to wider work in the organisation and industry.

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After submission, I was invited to an interview at the University of Suffolk where I discussed my day-to-day role, campaigns I had worked on, qualifications I had studied for in my own time and the biggest issues I faced at work.

It was the first time I had entered the CIPR awards. My manager encouraged me to enter the Outstanding Young Communicator category and our team also entered (and won silver) for the best use of social media for our work during the Beast from the East.

I was absolutely thrilled and so proud to win the award. It boosted my confidence and has opened up a lot of opportunities.

Advice for others

My advice to anyone considering entering the awards would be to just go for it.

If you need some help writing the entry, I would recommend one of the CIPR East Anglia’s award writing workshops, which are being held this month.

If you line manage someone who you think would be a good candidate, suggest that they enter and help support their application. You have absolutely nothing to lose by entering and everything to gain – good luck!


Visit the CIPR PRide Awards website to enter your campaigns this year.

*Mic drop*: Thoughts about my first podcast interview

Becky Hall 2019 CIPR EA Mic drop podcast blog public relations comms

Podcasting has become a huge mainstream phenomenon and it’s been great to see that there are lots of podcasts emerging about the world of communications. In the spirit of, as they say, “making a habit of trying new things”, I was excited to be involved in my first podcast a few weeks ago.

Sat with a bright red mug of tea and using a red microphone (relevant details as we were using a room in the Mobas office so, naturally, things were wonderfully on-brand), I chatted with Adam Tuckwell and Jon Wilcox of PRHub to talk all things comms.

We covered all sorts, from CIPR East Anglia and the concept of professionalism in communications, my day job at the University of Cambridge and a couple of issues that the comms industry is currently grappling with.

It was fun – I had some experience of having my voice recorded from student radio back in my uni days and, unlike watching myself on camera which I usually find moderately excruciating, I am slightly more comfortable with audio.

I’ve jotted down three reflections that may help in case you’ve got an audio interview opportunity on the horizon:

  • Prepare – I had a few stories and anecdotes in mind, which I could cherry pick during the interview, helping me feel and sound relaxed
  • Remember that no one can see you! – I’d forgotten how much I use visual cues when I communicate. Smiles, hand gestures and nodding count for very little on a podcast, so it pays to translate the liveliness into your voice
  • Keep it level – Try to keep your voice volume relatively constant – sudden guffaws of laughter are unhelpful for the producer…

I happened to be PRHub’s first guest as this was their debut episode – their second episode will be available soon. I’d recommend their podcast to anyone interested in stories that hit the news about reputation and the world of communications, media, PR and marketing.

Have you produced, or been invited to speak on, a podcast? If so, how did you find it? If not, what do you think of the current podcast trend? I would love to hear about any tips you’ve picked up or stories you have to share.

It’s all in the research

Written by Kerry Knight, founder of Hype, a freelance collective specialising in PR. First published: It’s all about the research. Suffolk Free Press [print edition], Thursday 21 February 2019.

Any business owner will have made decisions based purely on a feeling or intuition. We’re all guilty, at times, of believing we know the ins and outs of our industries, what our consumers needs are, and everything there is to know about our own business. But, how do we know what we know? Is it just an innate understanding of knowing what’s what? Or is our knowledge based on data we’ve collated from completing comprehensive research? 

Knowing what’s what

Before you can embark on embedding PR into any aspect your business, which we covered in last month’s article, ‘It’s time to unleash the powerhouse’, a lot of research needs to happen. After all, how can you truly know your business and its capabilities of growth if you haven’t analysed the situation of your business in the first place? This involves gathering data on three fundamental areas: the environment your business operates in, your organisation, and your stakeholders and publics. 

Gather the data 

Some of the most compelling insight can come from truly understanding the environment of your business. There’s a variety of analytical tools that can be used for this element of your formative research, although you can’t go wrong with a PEST analysis that evaluates the external environment impacting your industry including political, economic, social and technological factors.

Every discipline has its own lingo. In PR, when we refer to people as stakeholders and publics, we’re talking about the people that impact your business in some way. Think suppliers, buyers, regulators, competitors, complementary service providers and so on.

Once you’ve identified your stakeholders and publics, delve deeper into their relationship with your organisation to establish how important they are to your business, what their wants and needs are, as well as how to communicate with them. 

And finally, a great way to analyse your organisation is the classic SWOT analysis to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that relate to your business. We all begrudge doing them, but they’re great at uncovering little nuggets of information that can benefit your business.    

Divide and conquer

The process of gathering data isn’t enough to make you fully armed and dangerous with your new found knowledge. You also need to interpret it to identify any particular issues, problems or opportunities that could impact your business. 

The research doesn’t stop there. During the strategy stage, where you’re defining the aims and objectives of your plan, the stakeholders and publics involved, along with the approach of the programme too, research plays an integral part. There will be plenty of key questions to think about throughout this stage in the process, starting with who is it you need to engage with and how will you do it, to how will you measure success at the end? Countless research-based activities including testing ideas and content, to identifying the suitability of a channel for communication, all help in establishing the overall strategy of your programme.  

Don’t stop now

With the implementation of your plan well under way, there’s no time to rest on your laurels just yet. Monitoring the programme as it unfolds, is the next aspect of research for you to undertake. Once again, asking questions is paramount to the success of your planned programme. How is it developing? Would any adjustments be beneficial? Even questioning the management of the programme itself, will help to identify whether you’re using adequate resources, are achieving the timescales set and also establish the effectiveness and efficiency of the programme too.  

Review, improve and repeat

The often most forgotten about element of any strategy is the evaluative research stage. We’re so intent on pushing forward, we rarely take the time, or allocate the budget, to do a comprehensive evaluative review of the implemented plan. How do you determine that your strategic approach has been successful? What would you do differently next time? Ultimately, it’s fundamental to any plan to identify what you’ve learnt to feed back into the planning process so you can continually improve what you know and what you do. 

Question everything, because intuition alone is not enough. You may think you know, but in a world that is constantly evolving and changing at an unprecedented rate, can you afford to throw caution to the wind and make your decisions based on a hunch? Research. It’s a formidable tool. 

Time to unleash the powerhouse

Written by Kerry Knight, founder of Hype, a freelance collective specialising in PR. First published: MasteringPR: Time to unleash the powerhouse. Suffolk Free Press [print edition], Thursday 10 January 2019.

Public relations (PR) can often have a bad reputation. For those that are aware of its existence (and, interestingly enough, there are plenty of people that wear a confused expression when I tell them what I do), they often view public relations negatively.

Even in the world of journalism, it’s commonly referred to as ‘The Dark Side’. But, in truth, there is a lot of good taking place thanks to public relations. And it is a force to be reckoned with.

The Heart of your Business

Public relations is at the heart of everything your business entails. It gets into every nook and cranny and can impact every aspect of your business. How? Quite simply, if you strip public relations back to its simplest form, it’s all about communication.

It is how you communicatie with others, both internally and externally, and how others communicate with you. And what does all this communication achieve? It builds your reputation.

In the digital age we live in, where your reputation can have a global reach no matter the size of your organisation, the stakes have never been higher. Reputation is paramount to success. To summarise the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ (CIPR) definition of public relations, it is: “The discipline that looks after reputation. It is the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.”

PR bridges the gaps between the different disciplines of your organisation.

The Purpose of PR

What are the goals and aspirations of your business? What are you striving for? Public relations can assist in reaching your goals through utilising a variety of PR activities. Tactical approaches to everything from internal communication, crisis management and corporate communication to digital engagement, copywriting and community relations, plus a whole host of other PR activities, can push you closer to where you want your business to be.

With a strategic approach to how you communicate, public relations can be wholly beneficial for your business, from improving your company image and reputation, to increasing your media profile and promoting your products and services.

It can also improve relationships between everyone your business deals with: its employees, investors, key stakeholders, consumers, target audiences and so on. PR bridges the gaps between the different disciplines of your organisation and should be embedded into every aspect of your business.

Build Public Relations into your Business

So, where do you start? In reality, you’re incorporating elements of PR into your business already without necessarily realising it. Every piece of communication your organisation does is public relations.

So, the next step is to start looking at how you communicate as part of your business’s strategy. Evaluate your existing communications and the feedback you’ve received, and use this knowledge to influence the strategy and tactics you implement for the future.

There is so much more to public relations than press releases and publicity.

The simplest approach to incorporating public relations into any aspect of your business follows four steps: research, planning, implementation and evaluation. Start asking questions: what are your aims and objectives? Who do you want to talk to and what do you want to say? How should you say it? Did it work?

Don’t forget, communication is two-way. Building relationships takes time and engaging in dialogue with everyone that influences, and is influenced by, your business is key to reaching your goals. There is so much more to public relations than press releases and publicity. Used correctly, it can be a powerhouse for your business.

 

iProvision: What is it?

By Pat Gaudin, former Chair of the trustees of iprovision

It’s sometimes surprising to hear CIPR members say “I’ve never heard of iprovision – what is it?!”   So, it’s great to have the opportunity to spread the word to the CIPR East Anglia group.

iprovision is the CIPR’s Benevolent Fund which was set up in 1965 by then IPR members to support colleagues facing hardship. Since that time, iprovision has supported over 500 CIPR members and their families who have hit hard times, often because of illness, disability, unemployment or bereavement, through for example:

  • grants to meet specific needs
  • help with respite care or care break costs
  • support and assistance.

There are a wide variety of ways that iprovision has helped, for example:

Diane, aged 45, is a single mum with two boys with special needs, who found herself struggling following the breakdown of her marriage, and lack of freelance work. When her boiler broke she had no-one to turn to until a friend recommended iprovision.

Diane said “iprovision has been an absolute lifesaver in a time of enormous turbulence in my family situation. Their support – both financial and pragmatic – enabled me to move forward more easily in what were extremely stressful times. I cannot thank them enough.”

Chris, aged 46, had been out of work for some time and was struggling to get interviews.  iprovision was able to provide employment help with a package consisting of 7.5 hours’ face-to-face time with a career coach to help identify strengths and weaknesses and put together a strategy for finding a job.  Chris said “My coach is really good and gets me thinking about new and different things so it is really helping!  The sessions keep me motivated and I can make plans with my coach for the time between sessions.” Chris is now getting interviews and hopes to be in work soon.

Heather, aged 59, has MS.  As her condition deteriorated she had to give up work and her income drastically reduced. A one off grant of £600 was given to make Heather’s home more suitable for her needs.   “Thank you for the fantastic news.  It was wonderful to wake up to your call this morning.   I am so very grateful to you and everyone who has made this possible.”

As a charity, iprovision is independent and provides a confidential service, and exists exclusively for CIPR members and past members in need and their dependants. It is however a CIPR member benefit and reference is made to iprovision in a number of CIPR documents including the membership welcome pack.

You should hear about iprovision at least once a year with your renewals letter! Every member is asked to pay the annual voluntary donation of £10 – and ideally to indicate willingness to Gift Aid.  Of course some of you may have your sub paid by your employer in which case you may wish to give separately.

iprovision has two core messages for CIPR members:

  1. To encourage you to donate in whatever way suits you best (CIPR members are the main source of income).
  2. To make sure, through you our members, that everyone knows how iprovision might assist if a current or past member hits hardship.

Without your help iprovision could not continue to provide vital support to PR professionals.

Last year we helped CIPR members through financial grants, mentoring and other practical assistance.  You can help by

  • donating £10 with your CIPR membership subscription
  • donating online with www.virginmoneygiving.com and enter “iprovision” as your chosen charity.

Every group is different and I would welcome any ideas that you have as to how we can make sure that iprovision is relevant to CIPR East Anglia.

iprovision has a special ‘helpline’ for any member in need.  The number is 0208 144 5536 – all calls are confidential. Who do you know who might benefit?