Cian Connaughton is a Client Director at MKC Communications and the PR Consultancy Representative on the PRII National Council. Here in the first of a new series of features Cian details his career todate and what he sees as the priorities for the professional and the PRII over the next year.
After completing a BA International and MA in UCD, my first job was with former Labour Party MEP Bernie Malone during her 1999 election campaign. Inspired by the work PR consultant Martin Long did for her, I secured an Account Exec position with Murray Consultants. My next move was to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. Over the next 6 years, working on everything from transport and infrastructure lobbying to media relations to Chamber events, I progressed from Research Assistant to Communications and Policy Manager.
I've been in my current position as Client Director with MKC Communications since 2008. MKC is one of Ireland's leading corporate communications and public affairs consultancies. I really love the variety of work that the role provides. I've also learned massively both from my colleagues and clients including Energia, Virgin Media, enet, Mason Hayes & Curran and the Health and Safety Authority, among others. My career highlight to date was managing the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation's communications during the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2013.
"The longer I'm working in PR, the more I'm convinced that a strong and effective professional body is essential."
So when, in late 2014, an opening arose for the seat on the PRII Council as the PR consultancy rep, I put myself forward - consultancies employ almost half of all PRII members and are hugely important to the organisation.
It was a great move and I've thoroughly enjoyed the work so far. Last year I managed the PRII's consultancy engagement programme. The President, CEO and I met with the leaders of all the main consultancies, gaining valuable insight into the issues of importance to them, including education and continuous professional development, events and the Regulation of Lobbying Bill. This has helped shape many of the PRII's new and ongoing initiatives.
For me the biggest challenge facing PR professionals, both in-house and in consultancies, is to ensure the role of communications is properly understood and valued. There's plenty of work to be done educating our colleagues from other backgrounds about the value that communications and communications professionals bring.
For professionals who excel at promoting our employers and clients, we have plenty of scope to improve our self-promotion - 'PR-ing the PRII'. This year I'm looking forward to managing the agreed PR programme for the PRII. I will also be helping Patrick King with his corporate governance review, looking at optimising the systems for nominating and electing PRII Fellows.