Chances are, if you're reading this, you still have an opportunity to be nominated for the PRCA's next Young Professional of the Year award. The PRCA's latest PR and Communications Census states that PR is "an overwhelmingly young industry: the average industry practitioner is 29 years old". Data from the IPA's 2017 Census shows that only 7.7% of creative and non-media agency staff are aged over 50, and just 0.8% are over 60. This significantly under-indexes the UK population as a whole, which has an average age of 40. Within 30 years, one in four people is expected to be aged 65 and over. A recent report by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has suggested that workers under the age of 30 may not get a pension until the age of 70.
On a personal note, I had what Samuel L. Jackson's character in Pulp Fiction referred to as a "moment of clarity" recently when I signed mortgage papers for a 30 year mortgage, which will see me working until the age of 69. I looked around the offices of Hotwire, which are staffed by some of the best and brightest PR practitioners in the industry, but amongst whom, at the age of 40, I am one of the oldest. The recent launch of PR Week's latest 30 under 30 got me thinking about this, and discussing this with a number of people on Twitter.
This led me to thinking that age is an under-appreciated vector of diversity, and one that we should address if we want to be genuinely representative of the community we're trying to communicate with. As an industry we need to stop only championing the benefits, value and contribution of the under 30s (although this is important too), and increase our efforts to promote the benefits of age and experience.
This makes sense not just for attracting and retaining experienced talent, but also new talent too. The average age of an accountant is 44, the average age of a lawyer is above 30. If graduates, who will have invested thousands of pounds in their education by the time they get to the workforce want to make a return on that investment, the longer the period of time they have to do this, the better. Therefore, other professions look like better long-term bets.
A number of people I'm connected to have highlighted the efforts of Ann Pilkington of PR Academy, who previously launched a 50 Over 50 list of PR practitioners. The data suggests that over the next 20 years we will need to increase the number of over 60s in the PR sector above the less than 1% we currently see, so we need to champion the 60+ cohort specifically.
For these reasons, I have joined forces with Gareth Price of a large marketing and advertising agency to launch a campaign to find the top 60 currently practicing PR and Marketing Professionals aged over 60. We are currently crowd-sourcing contributions via Twitter using the hashtag #PR60Over60, and looking for contributions from across the industry. If you have a nomination, please tweet the nomination and a reason why using #PR60Over60. We're very fortunate that PRCA has agreed to help promote this campaign, and we will be announcing the final list with them once we've collected all the respondents.
The PR and Communications industry remains a young industry, with an average age of 28.