By Nikki Peters
I graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University this year having studied PR for four years. Fast forward four months and here we are at Stand HQ debating whether what I learned could prepare me for this. Papers, sell-in, client meetings, press releases, project plans, brainstorms and that’s just before lunch! It got me thinking, “does learning PR in a classroom translate into the real world?”
At 17 I stubbornly told my careers tutor that I did not need a backup choice of university course. I would be doing PR and that was final. So when I packed up all my belongings and filled my 8 by 10 cell (halls of residence) there was not a single doubt in my mind that I was well on my way to becoming a PR guru.
My degree course was a mixture of communications and business for the first three years; with the vital module ‘How to write a press release’ starting and finishing before I had any idea what to do with my perfectly crafted final product. Throughout my course we had the opportunity to work with real clients. This was where the real learning started for me with vital deadlines and a fierce pride in my work.
My final year was a combination of practical work and the dreaded dissertation which seemed to take eternity and fly by at the same time. I persistently moaned that all of this theory was irrelevant and I didn’t need to know that Grunig and Hunt wrote the theory of two-way communication in 1985, thankfully we were lucky to have tutors who were ex or current PRs themselves – they knew the theory was irrelevant but the process of learning was not.
On June 19th this year I met Stand Agency. I started two days later and was initially welcomed as an intern and then as an Account Executive.
As an A-level student I imagined a world of parties, Bollinger at all meetings and the latest laptops. As a university student I pictured lots of shouting, reading newspapers and remembering countless facts. As an Account Executive my day sees very little of the first section, some of the second section but mainly an untold third section. Organisation, conversation, language and a big dollop of (please watch out for the HUGE cliché) fun. No day is the same and every day is slightly mad as Stand HQ, but in the best way. The skills I learnt at Uni have been incredibly useful and, despite my hatred of facts, the process of learning is really what the focus was upon.
So, does a degree in PR prepare you for the real word of a PR agency? No. But nothing will! It did, however, give me some of the vital skills and experiences that I brought to my work.