As we recently celebrated our 20th birthday at Orchard PR, I thought it would be fitting for me personally to note that Leeds Beckett University, where I am currently studying, has now officially been teaching public relations for 25 years.
To celebrate their anniversary, they held a day of activities inviting present students, graduates, and lecturers to participate in several talks delivered by former lecturers and inspirational external speakers. There was also a panel talk about fake news and the role of PR in the modern world.
I have attended Leeds Beckett since 2014 studying BA (Hons) PR with Journalism and whilst that course was in its infancy when I joined the university, they have been teaching public relations courses since 1992 and are one of the top universities to study journalism, publishing and PR in the UK*.
My course aims to develop multiple skills through its different PR modules. Each module covers a specific skill such as writing for communications or how to navigate the digital media landscape and one module requires the students to create a world-wide strategy and awareness campaign for the conservation of dugongs.
I decided to take a placement year at Orchard PR to put what my course was teaching me into practice – because it’s one thing learning how to communicate with the media, write copy and pitch to prospective clients in class, but it’s another to put that into practice in the ‘real world’.
So what did I expect out of my work placement? Well, not feeding squid to an injured turtle being nursed back to health, that’s for sure! But working at an agency means that I’m being exposed to a multitude of sectors and a huge variety of projects through different clients, each in turn gaining me a wealth of knowledge and experience to take back to university.
Soon after I started working, I was pitching with Chris and Steve; writing news releases and other copy and working on Orchard PR’s own birthday campaign!
PR is more than just writing good copy – a key point I will be taking from my placement in industry. Being able to write well can get you a long way you also need to be able to communicate with different key stakeholders (journalists, your clients, the public), think on your feet and be creative. This is not a 9-5, sit at your desk job – it takes passion and a real interest in what you do to thrive and that’s definitely the culture here.
My placement has developed my skills in communication, copy writing, organisation and most of all confidence. Having to liaise with multiple stakeholders on a daily basis meant that I had to become more confident in the way that I presented myself. I’m confident too that not only will working at Orchard help me complete my final year, having had industry experience and something to relate my new learnings back to, but it will also give me a higher level of employability following my graduation in 2018.
This is because a PR degree, particularly when combined with a work placement, is a great way to get into the PR industry. So it is clear to see why the courses at Beckett are still going strong after 25 years – thank you Beckett for introducing me to this industry and thank you Orchard for allowing me to experience it!
*The Guardian rated Leeds Beckett 4th in the UK in the newspaper’s 2017 subject league tables for journalism, publishing and PR