Generosity or cynicism in public relations?

 has a thought provoking post looking at “radical transparency in PR” which links to a discussion I had with 1st year PR undergraduates at Bournemouth University today.

We were considering the forthcoming Wessex event at the Uni, “Meet the Professionals” (6pm, 27 February).  This annual event sees local practitioners spend an hour or two chatting with the students about working in PR.  The seminar task I’d set was to identify the objectives of the event from the perspective of (a) CIPR Wessex, (b) the professionals and (c) the students.

From the professionals’ perspective, attending the event is primarily altruistic.  A few may attend to scout for potential placement students, but most see this as giving back to the profession.  As we noted, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs self-esteem or actualisation applies.   (Image source:

Some of the students were quite surprised that PRs would be open in this way – they also believed the main motivation of CIPR Wessex was to sign them up as members – and their own objectives were to secure placement opportunities.

If we’re hoping to open up the profession of PR in the spirit of generous transparency, we’ll need to overcome this type of cynicism and self-interest in our “newbies”.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

8 thoughts on “Generosity or cynicism in public relations?”

  1. I had to read that again to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. These students are mostly late teens;early twenties probably? To be so cynical so young is a very unfortunate.

    Here they have the opportunity to pick the brains of local PR practitioners – who receive no end of letters and phone calls to ask for work placements. Would they really need to drag themselves out and away from their work to cherry pick at an event like yours? No, they could just sift through the requests that land on their desks.

    And to have the chance to join the CIPR at a reduced student rate to give them help and support to go forward in their chosen field is very valuable.

    For people who intend spending three or, possibly more, years of their life studying PR they should be grabbing this opportunity that is about to land on their laps and prise off that cynical lump that is blinkering them from the good things in life.

  2. I’ve not yet seen a lot of enthusiasm about entering the profession of PR among first years – I still feel they don’t really have an idea what it is all about and not a lot of curiosity to discover more. The 4th years are totally different – after 1 year in placement – maybe there needs to be some direct work experience in the initial couple of terms as well so they can get fired up by actually working in PR. I would have hoped anyone with any passion for PR would have done that before signing up for 4 years though.

  3. Do you get previous students to come in to the university who’ve got into PR who can give the precarious first years an insight into what it’s all about in working life?

    I did that with my college for the first year journalism students and told them what I’d done since I’d left. They asked all the nitty gritty questions: how do you negotiate fees, how long it takes them to pay you and life as a freelancer who had never worked on a newspaper before.They loved it and I’d like to think I’d inspired them to continue on to the HND.

  4. That is part of the purpose of the Meet the Professionals event – and some of the 3rd years on placement in the area come along to give very relevant feedback on their experiences.

    Through MIPAA, we’re also looking to set up a project of linking graduates in the motor industry PR world to their Uni as again, we feel that this identification with “someone like them” is the most relevant way of encouraging engagement with their future profession.

  5. Are there any plans to do anything like this in Scotland?

    How many people are there like me who are doing qualifications with the CIPR but not actually working in the industry yet?

    Do you think there is a call of some sort of group for us folks who are on the prorifary so to speak? Maybe a blog?

  6. Are there any plans to do anything like this in Scotland?

    How many people are there like me who are doing qualifications with the CIPR but not actually working in the industry yet?

    Do you think there is a call of some sort of group for us folks who are on the periphery so to speak? Maybe a blog?

  7. You could take this up with the CIPR in Scotland – maybe they could set up a mentoring programme or you could make informal connections through the committee to get a mentor.

    I will cover how to get into the industry etc in my book – when I get the chance to progress it….

  8. OK, that would be a great idea. I will do that. A mentoring programme would be fabulous.

    Talking about your book, a friend and I were talking the other day and he said that he’s got a new start in his in-house comms department who is so keen she’s doing too much which is to the detriment to the job she was actually hired for. The new-start, however, isn’t listening to his concerns.

    You’ve probably thought of this scenario already, but I would love to see how workhorses are treated in PR circles. An embarassment to co-workers or the bosses pet, or neither?

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