Name: Wendy Moran
University: Manchester Metropolitan University Business School
Job title: Senior Lecturer in Public Relations
What does your job involve?
My role literally involves both undergraduate and postgraduate lecturing and research supervision on Public Relations. In practice, this is much richer and involves networks and engagement with both academic and practitioner communities to ensure that our activity is rooted in and can contribute towards development of industry itself.
My own background is in public sector PR and I have been a Committee Member of the CIPR Local Public Services Group for over ten years. Last year, I Chaired the LPS and led a national research project culminating in the ‘Influence for Impact’ report, which identified the new challenges for public service PR practitioners in the age of austerity. Maintaining links and being part of practice is absolutely essential if we are to be relevant and make a contribution.
What does the PR degree/masters at your university involve?
Undergraduate and postgraduate programmes include both the theoretical to underpin strategic practice and the practical tactical so that graduates have entry level skills. Including a range of guest speakers in the programmes is really important to give a range of perspectives from the different sectors and to inspire. Sarah Pinch gave a presentation last month to our undergraduates and postgraduates on her own journey, which did exactly that.
Have PR degrees and post grad qualifications changed much in the last ten years?
I hope so! Seriously though, the programmes adjust in response to emergent theories and the seismic changes to practice. It’s really important that students see themselves as part of this development when they themselves begin their careers. PR is a relatively new discipline and students will ultimately be at the heart of its continued evolution.
I would also suggest that each programme is moulded to the students and their backgrounds and interests – so in that respect each programme is to some extent bespoke.
There are also some really fantastic practitioners and academics in the universities.
Why study PR and not a general business or marketing course?
If students have already undertaken work experience and are confident of their choice, then specialising early on can make sense. PR programmes in general are smaller cohorts and students can really benefit from being hot housed! There are also some really fantastic practitioners and academics in the universities. Pat Gaudin, who I first met when I joined the LPS Group many years ago, lectures at London College of Communication and I always say to her I hope they appreciate you !
Is doing a masters or post grad PR qualification a good idea? When’s the best time?
This is very individual, for most a post grad qualification sits well for practitioners who are seeking to develop their understanding of their practice. I myself did a post grad on top of a PR job, and everything seemed to click into place. The course I did shone a light on what I was doing and enabled me to really develop as a practitioner.
behaviour and charisma count for a lot in a profession that is essentially about communication
What makes a successful PR student?
One that is tenacious and resilient. Employers always cite good written skills and I would also argue that behaviour and charisma count for a lot in a profession that is essentially about communication.
What are your tips for A level students considering a PR degree?
Gain work experience, talk to practitioners and immerse yourself in the industry to ensure that you have an understanding of what is involved if you choose to specialise early on.
my very first cohort of students who graduated in 2009 do have a special place in my heart
Who are your most successful alumni?
There have been many wonderful students and I am reluctant to single any out. Success comes too in many guises. I must admit though, that my very first cohort of students who graduated in 2009 do have a special place in my heart. They were very keen, very able and with a natural aptitude for communications. Vanessa Brocks made it on to the TDA’s graduate scheme and is now Social Media Manager for the National College for Teaching and Leadership and Emma Hesketh is a Senior Account Manager at the Refinery.
What should PR students be doing along with their studies to make them attractive to a PR employer? They need to have an understanding of the world around them in its many variations. Curiosity, interest and an enquiring mind to explore, understand and engage with what’s going on is essential. A distinction isn’t any good without the personality to match it!
Which PR blogs, news sites and websites do you read?
I find twitter a great source of identifying new interesting sources of information and the weekly online articles from CIPR Influence are useful. There’s also staples like the Guardian, PR Week, the Drum, e-consultancy……..