Spreading the love…

April 22, 2007

We’re all lovely people in PR.

[No really.]

It’s because of this that we like to get together for drinks [see below!], and equally we want to use this blog to give an opportunity for young UK PRs to discuss some of the lengthier issues that might not fit on a Facebook wall. there are already some great sites out there doing this internationally, but as we all know, the UK is special, in every sense of the word.

PR is no exception, and the distinctive nature of the UK industry has recently been demonstrated in te discussions, sparked by PR Week, of the merits of grads with PR degrees against those [like me] without industry specific qualifications. This would doubtless be a far less contentious issue ‘the other side of the pond’, where there is a different tradition and attitude toward communications qualifications.

Most of the debate has centred around those with PR specific degrees having a better insight and understanding of the job when they sign on the dotted line marked JAE/Grad trainee. Consequently [or so the argument goes] they have a better attitude, and are more likely to stick it out through their years at the industry’s grubby coal face.

But surely this is missing the point? What is really under examination is how people approach their first years working the sector’s numerous dark tunnels and shafts? Undoubtedly knowing what you’re getting yourself into is a valuable asset [for employee as much as employer], but isn’t it work experience rather than any number of lectures which will provide this sort of context?

We’d suggest the discussion might be better conducted around what value is attached to experience, rather than your chosen degree.


2 Responses to “Spreading the love…”

  1. Louise Orr Says:

    I have been closely watching the PR qualifications debate as the final year of my BA (Hons) Public Relations degree draw to a close – before Christmas an article in PR Week discussing the lack of value in PR degrees really shocked me, I have a love for the industry and think that regardless of qualification, as with any industry, PR is what you make of it.

    I completely agree that the biggest test for entry level PR professionals in coping with the demands of the job and working environment. Some thrive on it and others find it too stressful – with or without a PR degree. But what must be noted in the qualifications debate is that whilst PR degrees are not essential for the industry, they are not to be scoffed at. My coursemates and I have been taught the workings of the PR world online in our final year at Bournemouth University, getting to grips with blogs, wikis, web widgets, social media and the like and its impact on PR. We have covered every area and aspect of PR and have all completed a year in industry – undoubtedly the most valuable part of our degree.

    Whilst not an essential, PR degrees are valuable and graduates can offer the industry a fresh insight into PR, with more than a basic background knowledge about the industry. The combination of experience and PR degree should be a winning one, yet there are still agencies that are reluctant to accept the value of a PR degree and therefore the ability of the PR graduate. The monitoring and continual evaluation of PR and communications qualifications across the pond is to be admired; standardised and industry-accepted PR qualifications beyond those offered by the CIPR would be a great asset to the UK PR industry.

  2. The thing that strikes me about this whole debate is that qualifications and degrees other that aren’t PR and communications specific are treated as a homogenous and irrelevant.
    Treating subjects from chemistry to law, anthropology to French and politics to astrophysics with equal disdain seems misguided. Certainly agency work seems to benefit from a multitude of skill sets and moving towards an army of PR and communcation graduate drones, described as progress and standardisation, seems like a step backwards and not forwards.
    The fact that the majority of my peers whether in PR or not could hold a conversation about blogs, wikis, podcasts and social media is testament to the fact that the general public are becoming more media-savvy and thus the media graduate needs raise their game.

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