PR Networking: Real-Life LinkedIn

Martin Jones

As PR professionals, we are in the business of building networks and communities for our clients. But drawing upon the hackneyed cobbler’s children analogy, we are sometimes slow to do the same for ourselves.  

Thankfully, organizations like the Council of Public Relations Firms and Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) bring us out of our silos to share best practices across all spectrums of the business. Because even though our industry is segmented across agencies of varying sizes and specialties, we have a lot to gain from coming together. For instance, as our industry faces such tremendous change we also have a tremendous opportunity to earn greater recognition and respect for what we do. 

Of course, no agency needs to reveal its “special sauce” to engage in a fruitful exchange of ideas or to be a visionary. Rather, networking should be a way to pull the industry together to share goals, like elevating the standing of PR agencies in the professional services pecking order, attracting the best and brightest minds to the industry and even building a collaborative network for new business opportunities.

Increasingly, the industry is moving toward developing a measurement standard that encapsulates the value and efforts of PR. Yet even this has fractured the industry with some people still using the advertising value equivalency, while others are nudging the industry towards the Barcelona Principles. But, frankly, most are waiting for industry leaders to put forth a solution. The Barcelona Principles was one example of that, but we shouldn’t stop there. We need to keep the conversation going.   

Nowadays, we’re also seeing the definition of a PR person become broader. With social media, metrics, analytics, video production and other forms of content creation we are bringing techies, analysts, videographers and more into the communications fold. But to make our industry a career destination for those with unconventional backgrounds, the industry needs to work together to recruit—and retain—various types of talent.

Finally, by building a collaborative network with various PR agencies across the global, whether big or small, the knowledge-sharing opportunities are endless. Networking builds accountability into the industry and helps foster relationships based on professional trust and respect. In an industry that relies on referrals and word-of-mouth, this is the most powerful way to build this network. 

Of course, PR professionals are extremely busy and already stretched thin. But the next time we’re invited to a PR networking event, conference or other industry function, we should all resist our “we’re too busy” instincts and consider the benefits of coming together. And with that, I say, see you soon. 

Martin Jones is a managing partner and co-founder of March Communications. He can be reached at