HERO STORIES: The new FutureProof celebrates people not ideas   


The FutureProof publication has been a Blue Peter annual for the past three years. In other years, it has been a collection of essays. This year, it has focused on individuals who are steering a course. ‘Twenty one pioneers who are shaping our industry’ and told in a quirky classical story telling format.

Across the download there are 22 people in 21 entries, 20 are individuals and two are a double act. Kudos to Sarah Hall for piecing this together and credit to her for celebrating those she sees as playing a vital role in shaping the industry.  It’s a thankless task. Every list is subjective and every list is unique. Add one in you’ll leave more out.

Here’s what struck me.

Men dominate the list but I’ll bet women dominate the future. Thirteen of the list are men and nine are women. If this exercise is run again in a few years time I’d be highly surprised if that balance isn’t flipped with women in the ascendancy. A few years ago, I’d noticed that much more women are being appointed to junior roles. Those people are now working their way to senior posts. Quite right too.

Eighteen of the list are private sector.  No doubt they deserve it. Many names are new to me as I tend to work in the public sector.

Just one is from the public sector. I’d take nothing away from each person listed in the book. The Government Communications Service’s Alex Aiken is a good example of a pioneer shaping our industry. But there are so many others from the public sector too to admire. Long hours. Poor pay. Constant sniping. Why would anyone do it? Because they can genuinely make a difference. How many communicators would handle the Manchester Arena attack? Or the London terror incidents? Or Grenfell? Or a 60 per cent budget cut like local government. Yet, the public sector did.

Three are from Higher Education. One man and two women. All three deserve it.

None are from the Third Sector. Charity comms is an area that has its own unique challenges and some exceptional people working in it. I can name you some but it also makes me think about the need for people across sectors to learn from others. A good idea is a good idea.

Strategy rather than delivery is recognised. None of the 22 are operators in the trenches although all will no doubt argue they’ve had their time knee-deep in mud.

It got me thinking about who I’d list and then quickly binned the idea as career suicide. As someone who works with hundreds of people over the course of the year so many people impress. But trouble making Robert Phillips author of ‘Trust Me: PR is Dead’ would be one.

But that’s the delight of lists and stories.

They’re unique and they prompt debate.

You can find a copy here.

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