Name: Philip Young
University: Birmingham City University
Job title: Senior lecturer
What does your job involve?
I run the BA and MA Public Relations routes, as well as the CIPR Advanced Certificate and Diploma. I (usually) enjoy teaching and mentoring, and spend as much time as I can doing research, sometimes into online PR, often into representations of PR in fiction.
What does the PR degree and masters at your university involve?
BCU puts a lot of emphasis on developing a broad range of cross media skills – our students work alongside video, photography, print, broadcast and events specialists and collaborative projects are very much encouraged. Our courses are firmly within a media tradition (although students can take modules offered by the business school).
Graduates today have to explore a very different media landscape and their tactical arsenal is constantly evolving.
Have PR degrees and post grad qualifications changed much in the last ten years?
Well, PR has changed quite a bit over the last decade so it would be strange if they hadn’t! Graduates today have to explore a very different media landscape and their tactical arsenal is constantly evolving. In some ways you could ague that the underpinning theory remains unchanged but BCU courses reflect a greater emphasis on relationships and information flows than the more traditional media relations based approach that was once predominant
it is vitally important to understand the discipline as a social function
Why study PR and not a general business or marketing course?
Because PR is not marketing and PR is not necessarily a business or management function. PR impacts on everyone’s life at so many levels so it is vitally important to understand the discipline as a social function. Equally, a wide range of non-commercial organisations need to communicate and build relationships for which business skills are not the ideal model.
Is doing a masters or post grad PR qualification a good idea? When’s the best time?
I would say yes … otherwise I will be out of a job. For some people there are advantages in doing an MA straight after an undergraduate course – for instance, journalism students who are attracted by the employment opportunities in PR – but there is also much to be said for waiting a few years and then reflecting on experience. Practitioners often know what to do but don’t have the time needed to think through why they do things, or to set actions in a robust (and critical) framework.
What makes a successful PR student?
Enthusiasm, drive, commitment, creativity, flexibility, curiosity.
Who are your most successful, interesting or inspiring alumni?
I am most proud of the people who didn’t seem to be cut out for great things, or didn’t believe they could do great things. I won’t name names, but is wonderful to see their latest achievements on LinkedIn etc.
What are your tips for A level students considering a PR degree?
Work hard. Be adventurous. Study something you will enjoy, not something you (or those around you) think you should be doing.
Don’t tell people you are “passionate about PR”
What should PR students be doing along with their studies to make them attractive to a PR employer?
Be different, be professional, be involved. Care. Don’t tell people you are “passionate about PR” – do things that prove you can make a real contribution.