the next generation of pr people

There's been a discussion of what comms teams will look like in the future. How about the people who will staff them? This is how one person started a career in pr and where he sees things evolving. 

by Jarrod Williams

There’s been a lot of coverage on PR students recently, and how graduates and non-graduates get into the industry. There’s been dismay over work experience, scandal over internships and criticism of PR academia.

I am a graduate of Media and Communications, with a particular aptitude in PR and communications, and an avid supporter of the much berated ‘media degree’

That’s right readers; I am one of those people who studied the art of press releases for three years and am proud of it.

I must admit, when I first began my course at the Birmingham School of Media, I had no idea whatsoever of what PR actually was, and who can blame me when the industry itself doesn’t know what PR actually is.

No, I set out to be a radio star, studying radio documentaries and radio techniques, and hoping to be the next Chris Moyles. I took other modules such as ‘Media Relations Techniques’ and ‘Photography’ as well, but radio was where my heart lay.

Why am I giving you this seemingly irrelevant background information? Because I never knew what PR was to get into it, it was my degree that made me realise there was more to the world of media than being a famous DJ. As I didn’t know exactly what a Comms Officer was (and thus didn’t have an ambition to be one) I took a concoction of modules. What a lucky break!

When I finally got my first ever PR results from guest lecturer Boris Worrall, I realised there might be more than just presenting on a radio show. PR presented more opportunities to experience the media than say journalism or TV, and that diversification of study that came through my negligence of PR had made me what Dan Slee recently called, a ‘Web 3.0 Comms Officer’.  I could produce and distribute varying multimedia content, build websites, had an eye for design, could build a story for a journalist and knew exactly what the planning editors were after.

It wasn’t just the practical side either. Birmingham City University mixed practical study with real world experience and theoretical support. I had chances to take part in fantastic work experience schemes such as B Hive, and get out into the Midlands PR Industry through university supported placements. I had to produce real campaigns as part of my course, I had to go out there and actually do it, be a public relations professional.

Ultimately my media degree, combined with my work experience and the extra work I put into developing myself won me this…

 The 2011 CIPR Midlands Student of the Year, collected at the PRide Awards. And yes, that is Kris Akabusi ;)

It’s not just sitting in a classroom learning the art of ‘selling-in’ from a powerpoint that got me the award, it’s everything the degree is about, everything it brought me, the opportunities that arose from studying PR with BCU, the chance to vary my knowledge and develop my life skills.

So where will PR be in five years time?

My generation of the Web 3.O PR will be a digitally native team with skills. The industry will be made of a workforce who can do everything. Yes there will be the specialists, but I’ll be the cost effective one, the one who will build your campaign, take the photos, make the videos, stick it on a web site, tweet about it and get your brand the press attention you want.

The future is diverse, and the industry needs people who can adapt and change across all platforms, digital and otherwise.

The end to this chapter and the evidence of why a degree is worth it?

Well…

Jarrod is a communications officer for Bromford, a leading affordable housing provider and is volunteer a media communications officer and social media manager for the Air Cadets.

Picture credit.

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