My name is Stella. I was raised in Essex in the South-East of England, I didn’t go to University, didn’t complete my A-Levels and I have a strong Estuary English/Cockney accent.
I’m also the director of a Public Relations reporting tool that over 2700 PR teams across 89 countries use everyday. I’m an author, regularly speak at conferences and have lectured PR students at The University of Manchester, Wales, London College of Communication and Fordham University in New York – all on the effectiveness of communications.
My working class background and lack of higher education hasn’t hindered my PR career progression, but I was lucky.
At 17 I wasn’t academic. I spent most of my time following Drum n Bass, Dubstep and Garage DJs around London and the South East, taking photos for a record label. It was my sister who recognised that my music knowledge and interest in subcultures and sociology might be helpful to her PR work for a major sports brand at a London PR agency, targeting 12-21 year olds in UK suburbs and inner cities.
When I joined that agency at 18 I understood why she needed me in some of the creative sessions; as talented as the PR practitioners were, most had the same education, sounded the same and interestingly seemed to be into the same pashmina fashion. Apart from Steve Strickland, now co-founder of Talker Tailor Trouble Maker who sounded just like me and had the same sportswear fashion taste ; ) We were the minority in the 200-strong London office.
This isn’t a story about my luck or that more young people felt an affiliation to a sports brand through PR in 2003. It’s about the lack of understanding and true connection with the whole public, which is an issue for ‘Public Relations’. Especially when the industry is in charge of communications for causes far more important than music and sportswear.
Nineteen years later, our industry has moved on, slightly. But there are still so many groups under-represented in PR teams, especially at a senior level.
A recent post by Wadds shared that, the UK Creative Industries are missing more than 250,000 working class voices: according to a new Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre report. Those from privileged backgrounds are twice as likely to land a job in a creative occupation. They dominate key creative roles in the sector, shaping what goes on culture, media, and television (apart from Channel4 where my cockney brother, Jack Bayles is in charge of comedy ; ) ).
As you can tell this is a topic not I, but the whole team at CoverageBook are passionate about. Many of the team were the first to attend University in their families and attended comprehensive schools. We are all fans of plain language and are passionate about making data simple. Report readers shouldn’t need a first in marketing jargon to understand them!
This isn’t just about class and education. As Wadd’s said; class intersects with gender, race, disability, skills and place. This creates a double disadvantage. It calls for an intersectional approach, recognising that promoting social mobility is integral to wider efforts to address inequality and exclusion.
That is why we could not be prouder to support the launch of ‘Socially Mobile’ Community Interest Company (CIC). It will support and inspire public relations practitioners across the UK to increase their earning potential.
Founded by Wadds and Sarah Waddington and with the support of world-class PR experts and teachers, they aim to deliver training to those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, as well as under-represented and under-served groups including black, Asian and ethnic minority practitioners, women returners and those with disabilities.
If this post has resonated with you and feel you could benefit from this brilliant opportunity contact me! We have two fully funded placements we can fill and we’d love to help people in the CoverageBook community progress.
Practitioners from these communities can speak to us or apply directly for a fully funded place on the course at www.sociallymobile.org.uk.
The timeline for the first Socially Mobile cohort is as follows:
- Application deadline – 3 December
- Successful Socially Mobile cohort advised – 10 December
- Student onboarding – 17 December
- Teaching schedule – 10 January to 25 March
The Socially Mobile course consists of seven compulsory modules and five optional modules, as well as guest lectures on contemporary areas of practice. Each module includes formal learning, a masterclass, reading material, and coursework.
More information: https://www.sociallymobile.org.uk/news/open-for-applications