Nationwide ‘role model’ survey reveals dearth of aspirational PR industry figures

Photo credit: Idea go
A nationwide survey completed in May 2011, by technical PR agency Stone Junction, has shown that public recognition of prominent PR figures is extremely low amongst young people as well as the British general public. The agency’s founder believes these results are an indictment of an industry that is failing to provide the young people working in it with role models.

The study found that Alistair Campbell was the most recognised PR person amongst 18-24 years olds, followed, disappointingly, by Samantha Jones from Sex in the City.

Industry legends such as Daniel Edelman, Al Ries the author or Positioning and Ivy Lee, the author of Declaration of Principles between them were recognised by half as many people as Patsy Stone from ‘90s sitcom Absolutely Fabulous.

The same trend was present in all age groups, regions and genders across the 2872 people who responded to the survey.  Unsurprisingly, the number of ladies who have heard of the Samantha Jones and Patsy Stone far exceeded the number of male respondents.

The survey is only half light hearted. PR is regularly listed as one of the most popular career destinations for graduates. And yet the only two non fictional PR professionals recognised by more than 30% of young people are Campbell and Max Clifford, whose high recognition probably stems from appearances on the X-Factor and Celebrity Apprentice.

The survey also revealed that the age bracket that recognised the most real life contemporary PR personalities was the 55-64 year olds. This is indicative of the fact that mature professionals are much more aware of the social and political context of their work.

My feeling is that, given the dominance of marketing and PR degrees in UK universities, recognition should be higher. Maybe our industry could help achieve this by working more closely with Universities to provide guest speakers and course material?

A quick note: The survey asked 2872 males and females from across the United Kingdom the question, ‘Which of the following people PR (public relations) practitioners have you heard of?’ They were given ten answer options, including ‘none of the above’.  Full survey results are available on request.

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Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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