When anyone ever mentions the future of Public Relations, the ensuing conversation typically revolves around the Internet and how it will affect our industry. In Ireland, the Internet might not immediately spring to mind, but words like blog and Bebo are slowly becoming part of our vocabulary.

The main challenge facing the Irish PR industry in my opinion though is the growing diversity in our society. The Central Statistics Office recently announced that there is an increase of 90,000 people working in the country. Of that 90,000, over half of the figure can be accounted for by foreign workers. These figures might seem like chump change to international readers of this website, but they are anything but insignificant to a nation that has a population of only four million people.

Apparently there are more languages spoken in Dublin than any other city in the world. Personally I don’t believe that, but all the same it does highlight a key challenge facing the public relations profession – the lack of diversity within our ranks. More importantly though, we have little knowledge about the multitude of communities popping up in our midst, so how are we meant to assist organisations to communicate with them?

Numerous publications are starting to appear to cater for these new audiences such as the Polski Herald, the Polish version of a leading Irish title, the Evening Herald. However, some of these publications are fly-by-nights and other are very difficult to liaise with from a PR perspective. Our industry can’t seem to communicate with media organisations that operate in our own native tongue Gaeilge, so the prospect of dealing with Chinese or Brasilian ones is quite daunting.

I hate saying it, but the Internet might just be a way of solving this particular problem. There’s so much hype about blogs, podcasts, etc, but there really doesn’t seem to be a better fit for communicating with the new entrants into our society. A lot of migrants use the Internet so they can keep in touch with their families at home.

Given that these workers are starting to spread out across the country rather than simply being stuck in Dublin, the Internet offers more of an efficient communications channel due to the fact that the cultural newsletters currently in existence don’t have the same distribution power as mainstream titles. However, we’ll start running into the same problems as many other industries due to the poor broadband infrastructure across the country.

Either way, it’s in our interests to help develop and form these channels. Not only so that we will be familiar with the medium, but also so we can forge closer links to the various communities and develop an understanding about them.

We still have to bear in mind the subtle differences between our cultures. For example, all the talk in Ireland around the Internet is about Bebo, the social networking website, which is far more popular here than MySpace, which many US teens use. If we are to go down the route of using the web to communicate with these audiences, we’ll need to learn how they use the net. For example, Bebo is a useless tool if trying to communicate with Brasilians as another social networking website, Orkut, is far more popular in that community.

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4 Responses to “Pondering about the future of Public Relations in Ireland”  

  1. 1 David Cochrane

    The risk, is that ‘blog’ and ‘bebo’ become the only two words that people grab onto when it comes to the Internet.

    The Internet is huge, I mean really really big, think of something big, and then think much much bigger.

    If we start limiting a medium to a few buzzwords and sites, we run the risk of limiting this medium in the same way that tradtional media is limited in scope and coverage. That said, it’s mainly the old (traditional) media that’s actually defining this new medium, so vested interests a plenty.

    How we communicate isn’t so much the issue, WHAT we want to communicate is the first starting point, as the PR students will know, identify the audience, and then find the best means (channels) to communicate with them.

    This is what makes the internet great, big style advertising used to be about an ad during the Late Late show, now it’s about geotargetting (targetting users by location), targetting by demographic (age) or other habits, some companies are going much further than this.

    Anyways, let’s get the what sorted out, before we do the how.

    Don’t get me wrong, I dig the whole internet thing, and have made myself a career from it, but it really is just another medium, that yes, should be include in the mix, but it’s not THE mix.

  2. 2 Michelle Sullivan

    Hello Piaras Kelly ! (have worked out the phonetics and am enjoying the way your name rolls off my tongue)

    I’ve been peeking into your blog now and then from my home-office in Montreal; I’ve worked as a PR consultant here for 5 years, 1 and a half or so as a solo practitioner.

    Because I’ve only discovered you recently, I’d missed this June entry and am pleased that my musings about moving my business overseas led me to stumble upon it. (Thanks Google)

    I’m the daughter of an Irish emigrant and so am blessed with citizenship and access to the European passport. Montreal is starting to feel small, and I’ve often thought about setting up shop in Ireland but am trying to be realistic about the obvious handicaps I’d have, trying to liaise with media I know little about.

    Any thoughts you might have on the edge a fluently bilingual (French/English) professional from Quebec might have trying to break into the PR game in Ireland would be appreciated. With family in Baldoyle, I’m thinking Dublin would be the most likely destination.

    Given the need to communicate with new arrivals, coupled with the market opportunities within the EU my question is:

    What does a girl like me have to do to catch a break, over on your side of the pond?

  3. 3 Piaras

    Email sent

  1. 1 Fitzwilliam Institute » Blog Archive »

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