In a week when I was described as an ‘old pro’ I began to question whether it was time to hang up my quill and retire gracefully from the world of PR. After all, it’s a young person’s game and while you won’t win anything with kids, it seems that as far as PR is concerned children are the future.
Some would say that the industry is over populated now by parentally funded Trinnys who want to work in PR because they are ‘good with people’. And barely a week goes by without some bright young thing saying that they are ‘going to shake up the North West PR scene.’ What place, then, is there for Young Mr. Grace who once won a Sword of Excellence Award in 1923?
As is often the case with PR, however, things are not quite what they seem. There are lots of young people in it and there’s no denying that they bring a lot to the party, but that isn’t to say that the wise thoughts of the time served should be ignored. An agency should be a blend of youthful exuberance counter balanced by worldly wisdom.
The reason that so many young people enter PR is that it offers a great career and unlike so many of us who drifted into it, they are making a decision to do a PR related degree as early as their mid-teens. There is definitely a new breed of PR professionals out there, but as Henry Ford said, ‘Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.’
I work with a superb team of 18 young pros (doesn’t quite sound the same, does it?), the oldest of whom is just 33. They excite and energise me, infuriate me and motivate me, all in equal measure and I wouldn’t swap them for the world. As Henry Thoreau said: “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm” and I’m just as enthusiastic now as when I first came into PR.
Around them, I’m still a big kid and get genuine pleasure at the way they are developing and the way they tackle problems from angles that I wouldn’t think about. At the same time, I tend to know quick fire solutions that have worked time and again in the past, and hopefully teach them a thing or two, a bit like the following courtroom exchange:
A lawyer cross examining Whistler, the painter, asked: “Mr Whistler, tell me, how long did it take you to paint Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket?” “Half a day,” replied Whistler. “So,” continued the lawyer, “you are charging two hundred guineas for half a day’s work?” “No,” replied Whistler. “For the experience of a life time.”
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but an old pro can still teach the young pups a thing or two. And besides, I’m not ready to be asked, “Didn’t you used to be Brian Beech?” just yet…