First Week Back In The Uni Bubble…

Okay, as some of you may or may not know, I’ve recently started my MSc in Public Relations at MMU. I’m really excited because it’s such a great course, both academic and practical. I’m hoping the practical skills I will use and develop on the course will put me in good stead to start my career in the PR industry next year.

This last week was a bit of a culture shock as I’m in a completely different environment to that of theatre and travelling. I feel like I’ve had copious amounts of information thrown at me, however, that’s not to say it hasn’t been enjoyable!

I met my fellow PR students on Tuesday morning, the group is predominantly girls, with a few males thrown in for good measure and everyone is really friendly 🙂 so that put me at ease for the rest of the day. After the meet and greet, we collected our MMU cards and headed back up to our seminar room for some more information. After lunch (which we all had together…cute!) we had a ‘Vital Need to Know’ session where we were introduced to the Dean, some health and safety rules and the university internship scheme. Last but not least, we had a library tour and received our pin numbers which allow us to take the books out. I’m not going to lie, I had several flashbacks of late-night dissertation sessions and memories of me running around Lancaster library like a mad-woman searching for that ‘one’ book, but by the end of the day, I knew I had definitely made the right decision coming to MMU. The facilities are amazing, and a business school that cost £75 million is surely going to be a successful study space! 😀

7267357296_105cf6d315_z

The next day began with a couple of guest speakers from the PR industry. They were really interesting to listen to as they were from different areas of the PR industry; crisis PR (something I’m looking into), B2B and the public sector. Their advice was invaluable and Alison from Smith & Smith PR offered us the opportunity to do work experience with her in the near future…I guess you could say she is my first PR contact in the North-West! Exciting! At lunch some of us wandered over to the Fresher’s Fair to see what was going on. After lunch (and some free pizza) we had a lecture on Research Methods (not as exciting but still very important) and were told we would be given our first assignment on Friday! Cue slight heart palpitations…This is going to be a drastic lifestyle change compared to that of sunbathing on the East Coast of Australia!

Thursday was my favourite day as we had the opportunity to be creative and plan our own campaign. I had a great group, we all got on well and had some really interesting ideas on how to target the Fresher’s and their binge drinking. It provided an insight into what working on a professional PR campaign would be like, so luckily I enjoyed it! 🙂 We presented our campaigns at the end of the day and I loved seeing what the other groups had produced. Afterwards, we had a social event that went on into the evening. I thought it was a really nice event to go to as we met other Masters students from the business school, we had some food and drink and finished with a quiz which was so funny….lets just say it probably highlighted my lack of business knowledge and proved that I know far too much about a-list and z-list celebrities!

On Friday, I managed to get a lie in which was dreamy as my body is definitely not used to the 7am wake-up call! We were given our first assignment which doesn’t seem too bad so fingers crossed once I settle myself in the library I’ll be absolutely fine!

All in all, my first week as a PR student was really enjoyable! The course is so well organised and provides so many opportunities for us to develop our careers. Everyone was lovely and I can’t wait to get involved in my modules this coming week! Roll on the next year…. 🙂

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…

Image

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.