Four months ago I was told my role as director of PR and media at Princess Cruises was going to be made redundant. I’ve never lost a job before, so this was a new experience for me.
Jarvis Cocker of Pulp once asked: ‘Do you remember the first time? I can’t remember a worse time.’ Although the subject matter he was referring to was a little different, the sentiment was similar. I was gutted, but appreciated difficult decisions are having to be made everywhere at the moment.
Fortunately I am someone whose glass is almost always half full, so within a short space of time (six hours) I’d dusted myself down and was determined to make the most of things. I ensured my last few weeks with Princess went as well as possible and then prepared myself for the next challenge.
The first thing that hits you when you’re looking for a job these days is the sheer amount of people who are in your position. At times it’s overwhelming. Of course we’ve been particularly badly hit in travel, but we’re not the only industry that’s suffering - just ask the journalists I’ve worked with.
The candidate overload means it’s difficult to land a job outside of your most recent sector; the feedback from recruiters is that employers can be particularly exacting with their requirements and still receive plenty of strong applications. At the same time, permanent travel PR jobs are few and far between, so opportunities are scarce.
Undeterred, I’ve set up my own PR consultancy. It’s new territory for me, but even in these most trying of times I’ve been encouraged by the response I’ve received from travel companies.
Where possible, plans are being laid so they can hit the ground running when the recovery begins in earnest. And as well as looking to the medium and longer-term, brands are showing remarkable resolve to publicise themselves in the here and now.
Furthermore, through all the trials and tribulations, the support I have received from the industry has been amazing. It’s no exaggeration to say I’m contacted by at least one person every day, who wants to check I’m OK and find out how I’m getting on. That’s incredible. No other sector I have worked in would rally round like that.
While there are many challenges that lie ahead for us all, to have those foundations in place should give genuine optimism for the future. Of course goodwill alone is not enough when everything is so uncertain, which is why initiatives like TTG’s #SaveTravel campaign are vital. We should all be proud of an industry that so clearly talks the talk and walks the walk (literally, in the case of the recent hand-delivered letter to parliament).
We all know we’re in a horrible situation, but if there’s one sector that can get through everything it’s travel. Keep fighting, keep supporting and encouraging one another, and stay positive.
Oh and if you need a good PR man, please drop me a line...
David Sanders is founder of PR42.