Insights from a professor & the account director of Weber Shandwick

Hello everyone,

Just thought I would do a quick post on my way home from Uni as I am feeling very inspired! Today we had a guest lecture from Professor Danny Moss who gave us insights into the world of Public Affairs in relation to PR. I felt very privileged to be listening to someone so influential in the industry.

Later on in the day we had a guest lecture from the Accounts Director of Weber Shandwick in Manchester who talked to us about the importance of creativity in campaigns. This was particularly useful as she gave us real life up to date insights and set us a campaign task to do during the session. This was a good way of getting her feedback and guidance on our usual practice. I found her very inspiring and I can’t wait to get out there into an agency myself!

Saffron xoxo

Update Wed 11 December – tonight’s Get PRofessional guest lecture cancelled due to illness

Update Wed 11 December – We’re so sorry to announce that tonight’s planned Get PRofessional guest lecture is CANCELLED as speaker Nyree Hughes is unwell.

Better news is that we hope to announce a rescheduled date shortly as part of a full programme of guest lectures for Term 2 2013 14.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you Nyree, and wish you a swift recovery

Launch of Get PRofessional Guest Lecture series 2014 on Wed 22 January – B2B PR with Fritzi Wemheuer of Judge & Howard

It’s ‘New Year, New Start’ for MMU PR’s Get PRofessional Guest Lecture series as it relaunches with a series of six lectures for 2014.

First topic this year is an insight into the specialism of B2B PR on Wednesday 22 January 2014. Introducing PR students to the field is Fritzi Wemheuer, Senior Consultant at Judge & Howard.

She’ll be telling them about the joys, the challenges and what it takes to succeed, covering some ‘stories from the coalface’ as well as giving insider information on the specific skills which are needed for a career in B2B PR.

Fritzi is a German national who joined Judge & Howard, the UK’s Outstanding Small Consultancy in 2012. Previously she was at global creative agency Gyro, where she worked on a wide range of national and international accounts across PR, strategy and digital content.

Before moving to the UK to pursue a career in communications, and following the completion of her Master’s degree, she worked in engineering and technology research and as a technical writer and translator. She is also a member of the CIPR North-West Group Committee.

The talk is at 5.30 p.m. in Lecture Theatre G34, MMU Business School, and is open to all current PR students and staff at MMU Business School.> Other upcoming dates and speakers in the series are:

Wed 5 February 2014 Nyree Hughes – PR and Social Media Manager, Access Advertising

Wed 26 February 2014 Erin Portsmouth, Head of Communications and Engagement, NHS South Chorley and South Ribble CGC/NHS Greater Preston CGC

Wed 12 March 2014 Paul Hadfield, Havas PR

Wed 26 March 2014 Jo Leah, Managing Director, Weber Shandwick

Wed 2 April 2014 Professional skills workshop 1: PR job search masterclass

Christmas Meal

A big thank you to members of the MSc PR course and tutors who came for a fantastic evening at Don Giovannis. An even bigger thank you to Diana for organising it- such a shame you couldn’t attend!

With this term coming to an end, it was a key time to reflect on the progress that the course has given us and to consider how far we’ve come in just a few months.

I am sure I speak for my peers when I say that the content of the course next term seems just as engaging. Having had a brief on what to expect, our studies after Christmas seem more practical and varied. As well as this, initial work for students’ dissertations will begin, giving us the chance to go into depth in what we feel really passionate about.

Again, thanks to everyone who joined us last night for food, drinks, chats, laughs and more laughs! I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and let’s see what 2014 brings us…

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Are you attending next week’s Get PRofessional?

Wednesday 11th December, sees the last of our Get PRofessional guest lectures for 2013. Join us for networking with coffee and mince pies from 5.15pm outside G34 in the New Business School.

The guest speaker will be Nyree Hughes, who is PR and social media manager at Access Advertising and she will be talking about “Working in a multi-service agency: the role of a PR and digital media specialist.”

Working in public relations doesn’t mean a choice between a PR department in-house in a large organisation or a PR-only agency – it’s equally likely to involve being a PR specialist in a multi-service agency in which advertising, PR, digital and marketing experts work together to give clients an integrated communications service.

This lecture, which should be especially relevant for final year BA Advertising and PR students, offers an insight into this area of work from Nyree Hughes, a PR practitioner with 10 years’ experience who runs a small PR department at Access Advertising, a marketing agency based at Old Trafford.    Nyree is also a fellow MMU student, as she is currently studying an MA in Design as well as running community engagement programmes.

We hope to see lots of you in attendance.

PR industry awards – what are they for?

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be presenting one of the prizes at the CIPR PRide North-West awards dinner at Old Trafford.

It was a fantastic evening celebrating the best of current PR practice in the area, and it was especially good to see two of our MMUBS MScPR alumni up on the stage as part of award-winning PR teams: Anna Varley Jones, Account Manager at Weber Shandwick, and Paul Hadfield, Senior Account Manager at Havas PR, whose agencies were respectively Gold and Silver winners for Outstanding Agency of the Year.

Our long-term supporter Brian Beech of Havas PR was also honoured as Outstanding PR Professional, and it was good to meet so many of our former students in the audience as well!

The determined and dignified long-term campaigning of Margaret Aspinall, chair of Hillsborough Families for Justice, was recognised with the Communicator of the Year award; a lot of money was raised for Mind – all round an enjoyable, professional and worthy event. What’s not to like, you might have thought?

Well, just this. I can’t be the only PR person who has heard industry awards regarded with a certain amount of cynicism. “Just a lot of back-slapping, isn’t it? It’s just about PR industry luvvies and rainmakers giving awards to their mates to keep the wheels turning.” And it’s not just from hard-bitten journalists that I’ve heard these views: sometimes it’s been from non-PR Chief Execs who should know better.

So what ARE industry awards worth? The answer is that they’re as good as the judges, the judging criteria and the governance of the process. In the case of the CIPR PRide awards, it’s about clear criteria which are firmly linked to the professional body’s drive to improve professional standards. And the national CIPR, who administer the scheme, make sure not just that the judging is impartial, but that it is seen to be impartial, by randomising the judging process. PR professionals in the North West area who put up their hands to join the judging panel find themselves allocated entries from a different, geographically distant area of the UK to judge. The awards have to be judged on careful debate about the merits of the campaigns alone – it’s the only information the judges have available.

Yes, awards schemes can become little more than an industry junket and a bit of self-congratulation – but used wisely and well, they have a genuine role to play in improving professional standards for PR teams and driving CPD for individual practitioners. An educational role, in other words.

So yes, I enjoy a bit of of glitz and glamour as much as the next person – but that’s the real reason I value my experience as a PR awards judge, and why I’ll be putting my hand up again for the job next time around.

Rise of the PR Graduate

At last, according to this article by Anne Gregory, The Days of the Glorious Amateur are Over, our industry employers are starting to see the value of PR graduates.

I have, for several years, been extremely frustrated to read features in PR Week that harp on about how PR Graduates are unnecessary to industry, while at the same time I receive countless requests for good PR graduates from employers, and read studies from academics such as Alison Theaker that track the meteoric career rise of PR graduates in the US compared with their non-cognate colleagues.

Europe, and specifically Britain, at last appear to have cottoned on to the incredible fact that studying a subject for several years of your life might actually make you better prepared to fulfil the requirements of your work than not doing so – amazing!!

Progress at last… and very good news for our graduates at MMU.