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2018: What we should be doing


The PRCA rightfully kicked out an organisation that broke its code of conduct. Yet on another level the unethical practice of not paying interns persists. A recent study by final year PR students at Leeds Business School found some agencies still reluctant to pay interns. Comments like “I fundamentally believe in paying people, but there are times when we are training interns and they add little value,” are not uncommon. I have spent 50 years in paid PR and journalism employment, yet I am regularly engaged in some form of training. On the upside, students found that 80% of the agencies who responded to their survey were paying either the living wage or above the living wage. Thankfully “The times they are a-changing.”

Diversity & Equality

I am often asked by clients why agencies are diverse poor. It’s shocking to hear from bright, articulate and competent male and female students with an African, Arabic or Asian family name that agencies are shunning them. The Taylor Bennett Foundation is doing much to address this issue, but the industry needs to do more to represent our culturally diverse country and put more women in the boardroom.

Where is the future talent coming from?

The number of PR students studying communications at undergraduate level is falling as are students studying comms at certificate and diploma levels. Yet employers tell me they have a skills gap. Why is it that we are not putting sufficient time, effort and money into training our future stars of tomorrow? Yes, I know we face uncertain post-Brexit times, but without a long-term focus on training and development the industry will be the poorer.

The solution? Partner with your local university. Develop degree apprenticeships. At Leeds Business School we work locally with agencies like Acceleris, Approach, Cream, Different, Faith, Finn, Grayling North, Harris Associates, Hatch, Ilk, Iseepr, JRC, MCG PR, Northern Lights and Umpf and nationally with Golin and WE Communications to give students a good insight of what it’s like to work in a ‘real world’ context.

We collaborate with corporates like IKEA, one of the world’s most iconic brands, to build the skills students need for a successful business career. IKEA see their engagement with Leeds Business School as a win-win partnership because they say students help them with ideas to grow their business and build links with the wider community in a sustainable way.