Friday, 13 January 2012

Back to University


Yesterday, I was lucky to be invited back to my old stomping ground at Southampton Solent University to take part in a Meet the Alumni session, with current students studying on the Public Relations and Communications BA course. The session’s aim was to introduce to the students the kind of work they can do once the course has been completed and the pros and cons of working in an in-house, or agency situation.

The session was a real eye opener; it showed me just how far the course itself had developed since I graduated in 2009 and how the university and lecturers are working hard preparing students for the world of work. Units such as negotiation and live client campaigns are featured and concentrated on more heavily to allow students to explore what will be expected of them.

The experience of meeting the students and explaining to them what it is like working as a PRO was really valuable, it makes you realise how much practising PR changes your perception of the job and how PR skills are extremely transferrable. After explaining how PR can be used for pretty much anything from a person, a company or a product I tackled the main concern that the students had, which was in-house or agency. Now this is a long serving question and can only really be answered by trying it out for yourself, but I gave the pros and cons as follows:

In-house:
• Focussed on one company
• Know the subject inside out
• Work in a small communications team/often alone
• Typically 9-5 hours
• Long term campaigns
• Slightly better pay
• Reporting is often frequent

Agency:
• Varied work with several clients
• A knowledge of many topics and enhance the ability to learn quickly the information you need
• Work with other PR professionals and can draw on their knowledge and experience
• May be required to work longer hours if a deadline is approaching
• Short term campaigns
• Stable pay often bonuses
• Your client is not sitting next to you so you can prepare and schedule meetings to ensure you are not distracted or unprepared

Explaining to them that whatever path is chosen they still get to use the same PR skill set hadn’t seemed to occur to them, but I was extraordinarily impressed with the amount of experience in the workplace they were trying to obtain to boost their CVs. There will definitely be some brilliant PROs graduating this year!
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