Are you a PR Darling?

April 27, 2007

PR degree or not, one thing the industry can universally agree upon is that your usefulness (and therefore pay packet) depends heavily on who you know, where you met them and whether they can help you. Networking has been for far too long solely focused on journalist ‘schmoozing’. Although knowledge of who writes the relevant columns for your client is essential, graduates coming into the industry can hardly be expected to pitch up to the various business editors on the national newspapers and get the cheque book out!

More than anything they don’t have the time to waste, and neither do you – Those media lists won’t build themselves!

When we were setting up the PR and Communications Network on Facebook we wanted to quash the stereotype that all PR’s were after an airkissing night out, something we apparently share with – http://www.prdarlings.com/. I’m unconvinced about the offer of a free tee-shirt, however! We don’t offer free items of clothing, we can’t promise love [although some of us live in hope!]…. But we’d love to see you at the PR and Comms drinks at Bar Polski on May 17th.

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11 Responses to “Are you a PR Darling?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Personally, I think PR/media ‘degrees’ are a waste of time, and it’s not surprising that they are undervalued and are considered ‘mickey-mouse’ by any serious employer. Compare the intellectual rigours of a PR degree to that of a law, science or mathematics course and there is a massive disparity both in the quality and quantity of what you will be doing. Learning about how to edit Wikipedia (I believe the correct term is astro-turfing), or ‘assimilating the use of social media’ (spending six hours a day on Facebook reading people’s wall-posts) is not what higher education should be about. The art of writing a good press release or presenting a stunning ‘pitch’ comes primarily with experience, not time in the classroom studying the ‘theory’…

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I think there’s some misunderstanding of concept here – the name PR Darlings suggests it’s probably more about having a laugh at yourself and not taking work too seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever *actually* mwah-ed anyone in real life…

    The service itself sounds like a good idea, if only because it will encourage on and off-line interaction between professional PROs. The potential to drive debate and prompt new friendships (as well as encourage career progression) far outweighs, in my opinion, the events aspect of it. I think the whole champagne sweeties thing is firmly tongue-in-cheek!

  3. Louise Orr Says:

    Firstly ouch to the comment above! Whilst getting to grips with social media and the role of PR online has been one aspect of our PR degree we have had invaluable experience in industry that many law, maths or science degree students cannot imagine. Live pitches to big London agencies, lectures and workshops by some of the biggest names in PR and finally a year’s experience as PR professionals. In the eyes of some this may not compare to the likes of learning about Einstein’s postulates but in reality is more valuable than anything you can learn in a lecture hall. My PR degree has given me an insight into economics, media law, finance, advertising, marketing, politics, CSR, digital design and does in fact include a module of writing skills, to ensure that when we’re sent out into the big wide world we are able to string together an effective press release without too many questions… Hitting the ground running is surely more valuable to PR than than out-dated hierarchical status of one’s degree? As for quality over quantity, hours spent sitting in a library hunched over a pile of quantum physics text books does not compare to late nights compiling a PR pitch, something that will be a focal point of many PR careers for years to come!

    Secondly, curiosity got the better of me and I signed up for PR Darlings… and I am not impressed. Whilst in theory a good idea, it portrays what I imagine to be a cheap dating site, that will inevitably attract a seedy sexually orientated clientele, further damaging the reputation of PR as “smoozing” and undermining the hard work and efforts of many to ‘professionalise’ the industry. All in all, I’ll stick to Facebook and the PR and Comms network!

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Reply to “Louise Orr”:

    Louise, you have completely missed the point of my post. By saying “we have had invaluable experience in industry that many law, maths or science degree students cannot imagine” you are essentially backing up my argument that it is only through being exposed to the workplace (rather than going on a course) that you learn anything about PR. You admit that your course includes “a year’s experience as PR professionals.” – again, emphasising my original point, that it is not the degree you are benefiting from, but actual exposure to the PR industry as a whole, which you could easily have gained from work experience or a few internships whilst studying a more (as you term it) “out-dated hierarchical status” degree.

    Unless you are suggesting that you need a PR ‘degree’ to get work experience in PR (which I contest), your argument does not make sense. My original post suggested that there is indeed no need to waste time studying “Einstein’s postulates” at university to get ahead in PR, and your post only serves to back this up by explaining the content of your course. Essentially, you seem to suggest that you have learnt more from exposure to the workplace than what you find in the classroom – which was exactly my point.

  5. Anon Says:

    Interesting points.

    Firstly; PR Darlings-not at all convinced. Looks like a kind of dating site for PR. Pretty dubious I reckon.

    Secondly; PR degrees. probably some truth on both sides I’d say. After all, it is surely the real life experience which is the most valuable component, but at the same time with far too many degrees for the sake of doing degrees, it is good to see courses [like PR] concentrating on equiping people for jobs, rather than gap years because people can’t figure out if they are actually equipped for any job.

    Doesn’t make much difference anyway after a year as an JAE/AE.

  6. Edward Says:

    PR Darlings – Is it possible that it’s both about having a laugh at yourself AND entirely serious?

    PR Degree – No degree is enough. There’s a lot to learn and not just for a career in PR.

    Perhaps there could be more specialisation (or splintering…) in career roles – Essential skills/qualifications: Educated to PR Darling level.

  7. Louise Orr Says:

    I agree that you do not a PR degree to get PR experience, but the degree has more than prepared to enter the industry above entry level; without as much on-the-job training and has prepared us, realistically, for the world of PR. Whilst my work experience undoubtedly gave me the best possible insight into the industry; my degree prepared me for this. It offered the opportunity to explore all aspects of PR before setting foot inside an agency or organisation. This invaluable education before my work experience meant I, along with my BAPR colleagues across the UK, was able to hit the ground running.

    Ignoring the placement year, the degree has prepared me for “real-life” PR and has offered me the opportunity to gain an understanding of a much wider range of PR activities and responsibilities that we would never have received in our first PR role. It also provided us with a platform from which to get valuable PR experience as an integral team member rather than the work-experience-tea-maker-admin role that many “first-timers” would have been placed in. Placement students from Bournemouth, Leeds Met etc have built up a strong reputation in the industry, which results in over 150 agencies and organisations offering postions for PR students during their degree.

    I o dthink there needs to be more synergy across PR qualifications, perhaps with more input from industry as to what is expected of someone with such a degree, especially when the topic divides practitioners in such a manner. But overall PR degrees must not be dismissed when for over 10 years they have produced some great PR professionals – and will hopefully continue to do so for many years to come!

  8. Ed Lee Says:

    I disagree that contacts are the be all and end all in the industry.

    Let me explain why. Being all chummy chummy with all the journos in the world won’t get a turd of a “story” past their editors. A turd is still a turd, no matter how much you polish it.

    When a potential client asks “how good are your media contacts?” in a new biz presentation, they should actually be asking “how good is your nose for a story?”. I’ve always thought that an agencies intrinsic value is in the perspective we bring to our clients. Widget XYZ may be all the rage within a company but to the rest of the industry it could be seen as derivative, years out of date, barking up the wrong tree or all three. The agency would be able to use its perspective to tell the client not to waste their time or reputation pushing this one too hard.

    Ed

  9. Pedantic surfer Says:

    But surely, the issue here is that however good the story is to you as the PR professional, without a relationship with the journalists you will never have that link to their editors, who indeed will ultimately decide whether to accept or reject your (as you put it) ‘turd’. I agree an essential part of PR is a full and detailed knowledge of the industry, but even if you have the best working knowledge of any product/area, without journalists your job would be pointless. You guys need coverage. Coverage is provided by the media. It’s a simple, but undeniable fact.

  10. Ed Lee Says:

    I don’t think you need to have good relationships to read a newspaper, magazine or Web site and I’m fairly sure the same applies for the broadcast media.

    No matter how good your “contacts” are, they won’t publish a non-story that hurts their own professional reputation with their boss or their readers.

    Ed

  11. Hassan Says:

    Great read, thanks


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