After more than two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be hard to quantify the ways in which we have changed. Our pandemic coverage helps us understand the industry impact, and it seems unlikely that any of our content has been untouched by the unique circumstances that have taken root since the start of 2020.

But so much of that change has occurred at a human level, where many of the lessons emerge from the various conversations and anecdotes that underpin our stories and events. To better showcase these learnings, and provide a measure of insight into how the global PR industry is responding to such a transformative era, this series asks people what they have learned, according to three specific areas.

In the latest instalment in our series, we hear from Ray Eglington, who has spent nearly 22 years at Four Communications Group as one of its founding partners, and recently returned to the UK after many years based in UAE. 

Three things I've learned... 

As the old IBM ad says: Think. Traditional office culture encourages activity, the more visible the better. Get in early, jacket on the chair, type loudly (me, definitely), speak loudly on calls (ditto) and regularly mutter just how busy you are. Whatever you do, don’t sit there staring blankly into the middle distance, catching flies. Yet… thinking is a good thing, right? In our new working patterns, it’s so much easier to find time for this. Turn off Zoom, stare out of the window and just think: coming up with strategies, creative concepts and new ways of working. And occasionally, catching flies.

We’ve got to stop feeling that PR has somehow failed in being taken seriously. At the ICCO summit in Dubai earlier this month, I heard this – a message I first heard in the early 1990s and regularly since. But in those 30 years, we have repositioned how business leaders, governments and wider society view PR. Look at the thousands of people now in our profession. Look at the trade associations, professional accreditation programmes and degrees. Look at the central role ESG plays in so many organisations. Look at the vanishingly small number of CEOs who can succeed without a public profile. Look at what communications helped to deliver during the pandemic. Be proud!

For all that Zoom has done, proximity matters. I spent the pandemic in the UAE, where I’ve been running Four MENA for many years. On my first visit back to the UK (after a year when UAE was on the Red List), my eldest son called one evening to say he was nearby and could he stop by for dinner? The lightbulb went off that as long as we were on different continents, this would never happen. And so began the process of moving back. Seeing our boys regularly is brilliant. Even if they do mock me for staring out of the window, catching flies…

If you'd like to share your three lessons, please let us know.