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This week the blog post has been written by ADPR Account Executive, Kira Daly, who won the PRCA’s Apprentice of the Year Award in 2021 and is currently studying PR at Greenwich University so has first hand experience in the best steps to take for aspiring PR professionals!
Qualifications are so important to develop the required skills and knowledge about the Public Relations (PR) industry. Although, prior to my PR role, I was far from aware of the options available in the industry! Having now achieved a PR qualification (a Distinction in the Higher Lever 4 PRCA PR Apprenticeship) and currently studying for another (PR & Communications Degree at Greenwich University) I want to share with you my personal suggestions and advice when it comes to the most prominent qualifications and courses to skyrocket your career in PR. For even more tips about starting a career in PR through an apprenticeship, check out our latest podcast, featuring special guest, Steph Umebuani – the PRCA’s Head of Apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships & Internships
Starting with my personal experience: the apprenticeship route. I was lucky enough to land my dream role as a PR apprentice, employed with Somerset-based marine, fitness, and lifestyle agency, ADPR. The PR apprenticeship has shaped my entire career to date, from securing a PR role I absolutely love with the most fantastic agency and team I could imagine, to further studying in the PR field!
Offered by the world’s largest PR professional body, PRCA, the PR apprenticeship is a Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship scheme equivalent to a Foundation degree. The fantastic 18-month programme employs the apprentice in a real PR and communications consultancy or in-house team, gaining invaluable experience as a PR assistant. PR apprenticeships offer a wide variety of in-person and virtual engaging training courses and resources from experienced PR professionals, covering all aspects and areas of PR! The on-the-job learning element allows for a seamless skills-development in a working environment, holistically progressing both your theoretical knowledge and practical PR experience. Enabling you to build knowledge and expertise, whilst working towards the nationally recognised PRCA qualification. All current PR apprenticeship vacancies are live on the Gov.uk website.
Regulated by the PRCA, internships are another great option to develop professionally as a PR practitioner. The PRCA internships ensure every intern gets a paid, meaningful internship, which is accessible to all. Internships can be found directly through job searching sites such as Indeed, open vacancies can be found via the Gov.uk website, as well as virtual internships through remote work experience providers such as Forage.
Having achieved a Distinction in the Level 4 Diploma, I was delighted to be offered a promotion to the position of Account Executive at ADPR. Following the apprenticeship route, I was also eager to continue studying alongside my role in order to take my PR understanding to a higher level. This led me to my most recent endeavour – university! I am now a second-year PR and Communications BA Hons student at The University of Greenwich! (because I’d already completed the Level 4 Apprenticeship, I could skip year 1 and dive straight into year 2!) During the research process for university, I uncovered a confusing world full of various Higher Education courses in hundreds of module varieties!
There are over 300 unique undergraduate (degrees, HNDs, HNCs) and postgraduate (Masters, PHDs) PR courses supplied by over 70 universities in the UK. UCAS, the core hub for accessing university, course and module details, condenses an immense number of options for different educational paths into the PR industry. Sole PR degrees, similar to the apprenticeship diploma route, focus on communications specifically, with a range of options to specialise in particular areas and specialisms of PR (dependent on the university!). Furthermore, there is a spectacular assortment of diverse options of related topics incorporated in PR degrees, for example: PR and media, PR and marketing, PR and advertising, PR and business, PR and events, PR and politics, PR and tourism … the list goes on! With a great array of additional topic choices weaved into PR, there are bucket loads of courses available to suit your style of study and interests. Degrees are a fantastic way to demonstrate your capacity to learn at a higher level, making it easier to gain entry-level PR as you already have a firm understanding of PR prior to working in the field. Most universities also offer work placements, both in the UK and abroad, allowing anything from 1-2 months experience to a full year of working with highly notable brands, such as Porsche, L’Oréal, and Walt Disney!
The world’s only Royal Chartered body for public relations professionals, CIPR, is committed to providing PR learning through training courses. From entry level and up, there are numerous styles of courses covering all the specialist areas of PR, including but not limited to: digital PR, internal communications, personal PR development, planning, measurement, evaluation, public affairs, editorial, content creation, crisis, and reputation management. Similarly, the PRCA also provides training courses, not confined to the apprenticeship programme, including insightful webinars, face to face workshops and mentorships. Other training providers such as PR Academy and AMEC undertake certified courses for aspiring and junior PR professionals, to acquire the relevant industry knowledge to advance your chances of being considered for a PR role!
There is a plethora of options available, from virtual ad hoc training courses to apprenticeship and internship schemes to full-time degree courses. There really is a world of educational opportunities facilitated by fantastic PR professionals and bodies in the UK and beyond! There are no limitations. In my personal experience, the educational and qualification-based side of my journey has undoubtedly increased my skills, abilities, and knowledge vastly. At the early stages of my career, these additional studies have allowed me to learn quickly, gain experience and adapt to the fast-paced industry, continually inspiring me to achieve better and better PR results for my wonderful clients. If you are interested in studying PR or communications courses, I’d say go for it! It has opened many avenues for me, and has acted as a steppingstone into a career I love and hope to continue growing in.
For even more tips about starting a career in PR through an apprenticeship, check out our latest podcast, featuring special guest, Steph Umebuani – the PRCA’s Head of Apprenticeships.