The stats don’t lie
About the author
Richard Bailey Hon FCIPR is editor of PR Academy's PR Place Insights. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students.
Sometimes it’s useful to apply quantitative measures to qualitative judgements.
That’s how our #prstudent #bestPRblogs content is organised. We include a selection of the best PR student writing each week of the academic year, and towards the end we shortlist those who have appeared most often.
I’ve never attempted this for #ThisWeekinPR: for one thing, it’s not a contest, so we’re not looking for winners. For another, the process of counting would be time consuming – as well as pointless.
But just as many have chosen to put up Christmas trees in November, as if willing an early end to 2020, so I’ve scanned through this year’s #ThisWeekinPR entries to add up who has appeared most often year-to-date. For this purpose, I’ve counted blog posts, but excluded Tweets.
Appearances each week can be taken as a vote for quality; this list is recognition of consistency. So here are the most consistent public relations bloggers and content writers in 2020 to date according to my quick manual count.
- Stephen Waddington
- Dan Slee
- Amanda Coleman
- Scott Guthrie
- Stuart Thomson
- Rachel Miller
- Martin Flegg
Two things leap out from this list. One is that it’s dominated by men – while our industry/profession is two-thirds female. I’ve noticed this anomaly within what we used to call blogging for over two decades and had initially ascribed it to technology early adopters tending to be male: that clearly no longer applies. What else? The weekly selections are mine, so am I exhibiting bias which only becomes apparent when the numbers are presented? Or is it a similar phenomenon that you used to see among trainspotters and still see among twitchers? Women are welcome, but men dominate.
The other conclusion I draw from this list is the value of specialising. Martin Flegg and Rachel Miller are focused on internal communication; Stuart Thomson on politics and public affairs; Amanda Coleman on crisis communication; Dan Slee on public sector comms; Scott Guthrie on influencers. Yet does that explain the prominence of Stephen Waddington? As well as focusing on public relations in the digital media landscape, he also writes about the profession, consultancies and education.
So much for cold, hard numbers. I then asked myself: of the hundreds of individual posts I’ve read this year, which ones affected me emotionally so that I can recall them without having to go back and be reminded?
These two pass this ‘emotional impact assessment’. Interestingly, given the possible gender bias in the earlier selection (and the lack of racial diversity in that select group and within our profession), both are by women of black or mixed heritage. I should also note that both of their fortunes have improved since the time of writing: at least, both are now in work.
Neither post is about public relations or communication; but both are about the experiences of people within the community of public relations practitioners that will shock many and will resonate with others.
- Teela Clayton: There’s a brown girl in the ring tra la la la la (5 March)
- Katrina Marshall: Jobless, possibly stateless and almost homeless: my life as a crisis comms case (7 July)
With our #prstudent #bestPRblogs contest I do keep a running total of the number of appearances. In professional football they’d say it’s too early to worry about the tables – but people still do. So here’s how our contest is shaping up after two months. There’s still plenty of time for new bloggers and content creators to emerge, and for these leaders to develop their styles and content strategies.
|2=||Megan Laura Harris||Liverpool John Moores||4|
Finally, I’ve enjoyed scanning through the main images that accompanied the #ThisWeekinPR entries. These are selected for their photographic impact and also for their storytelling. So I’m republishing one picture that seemed to tell the story at the start of the pandemic and which seems even more apposite now as we are about to emerge from the second lockdown in the gloom of winter darkness and facing continued high levels of restrictions – reflected in a fractious parliament. I’ve not counted appearances in our main ‘pic of the day’ but my instinct is that Alex Woolfall‘s work-life chronicles often feature in #ThisWeekinPR.
Blessed are the storytellers. Some allow their words to speak; others communicate visually.