TUESDAY 9 JAN 2018 5:00 PM

CIPR PUBLISHES 'BREXIT AND PUBLIC RELATIONS IN 2018' SURVEY

The UK’s proposed exit from the European Union next year remains undoubtedly shrouded in ambiguity, and yet as flickers of the volatile political narrative continue to encircle the decision, several industries are making tangible efforts to prepare for its proposed economic hurdles.

Yet for PR, a central component of Brexit strategy is tied up in an effective, communicative and flexible response to change. A recent survey by the CIPR suggests proactive efforts from PR professionals are contributing to a clearer industry outlook towards Brexit.

Undertaken in August 2017, the survey considered 251 responses from a mixture of public relations professionals and CIPR members, with ages ranging from 18 to 60. Male to female percentages for the survey were recorded at 55% for the former, and 45% for the latter. By sector, 28% of respondents work in-house in the private sector, with 20% representing consultancies. Another 20% of respondents work as independents, with 19% working in-house in the public sector and 14% working in-house in the not-for-profit sector.

With the Brexit climate remaining murky, questions surrounding the professional response to its forecasted implications also remain unclear. As the survey collated respondents’ opinions on their organisation’s preparation for Brexit, results indicated that many organisations have started to plan for Brexit’s impact. As many as 62% of respondents agreed with having a role in preparing their organisation for Brexit. In addition, 72% of respondents agreed to taking personal initiatives in learning about Brexit, with the purpose of benefitting their organisation.

Equally, 91% of respondents disagreed with the statement, ‘I am not interested in Brexit,’ suggesting that despite its uncertainty, Brexit remains high on the PR agenda. However, when it comes to taking practical measures, respondents were less active in briefing clients, conducting research and setting up internal committees and taskforces to deal with Brexit. Comparatively however, 58% of respondents claimed to be listening and talking to the wider stakeholder community about the potential impact of Brexit on operations.

Regarding the hierarchical nature of Brexit’s proposed challenges, the survey also revealed that Brexit’s macroeconomic impact generated the most concern, with 73% of respondents claiming its impact on the UK economy was principal. Interestingly, just over half of respondents expressed concern regarding access to EU markets, and 48% stated market regulation after Brexit a key concern.

Yet as one respondent commented on Brexit being “a complete disaster, economically, socially and culturally,” efforts from the wider PR industry in stabilising Brexit sentiment remain clear throughout the survey. Whether such provisions remain true throughout 2018 however, will continue to pose a challenge for the PR industry.