The Value of Communications & Volunteering

PR Workshop with City Action

This article was written by City Action’s Ikramul Choudhury, Kelly Bailey also contributed reporting.

On 12 April 2016, City Action organised a PR workshop with the Company of Public Relations Practitioners. The session focussed on helping our community partners address their most pressing communication challenges by working with public relations experts, who volunteered their time and provided high quality advice and guidance.

Communications support is the second most frequent request from City Action community partners, as declining funding across the third sector has created a need for charities to build and raise their profile in an increasingly competitive sector.

Research has also demonstrated that organisations that support employee volunteering, experience significantly higher levels of staff engagement and retention.  The millennial generation, which accounts for a significant proportion of the PR workforce, are increasingly driven by purpose and people as opposed to purely profits.

The event kicked off with a welcome by Gavin Ellwood, Middle Warden of the Company of Public Relations Practitioners who gave a brief history of the work and aims of the Company. Noa Burger, City of London Corporate Responsibility Manager, followed with a presentation on the voluntary sector landscape; the challenges it faces and how effective PR can help address some of those challenges. Stand out topics included the halving of government grants alongside the doubling of the number of rough sleepers in London between 2009 and 2015.

Group session prior to the two rotations
Group session prior to the two rotations

Through a set of two rotations and group feedback, our public relations volunteers were challenged to use their expertise and experience to advise community partners on how to communicate without a dedicated budget and in-house expertise.

Colin Crooks, Tree Shepherd commented that the evening was a “thought provoking and stimulating workshop that has spurned me to get our message out”.

Rotations in action
Rotations in action

For Daisy Hall, Director at FTI Consulting, the evening was a great demonstration of how skills-based volunteering can support charities: 

“The skills I have learnt as a PR practitioner in financial services can be applied to any sector. I’ve met charities working in education and getting women into employment…. I’ll be staying in contact over the coming weeks to think about how we can be working with them and helping them.”

The evening closed with remarks from Jonathan Chandler, Past Master of the Company of Public Relations Practitioners, reflecting on the experiences shared by community partners and professional volunteers alike.  Continuing with the theme of responsible business, the networking drinks reception that followed was catered by social enterprise, Cafe Sunlight.

As part of a combined strategy, effective public relations and communications is a key route to maximize reach to vulnerable service users; attract vital funding and increase stakeholder engagement.

If you would like to volunteer your PR skills we are please email clerk@prcompany.org