Is photocopying really better PR education?

Check out the fascinating post by a young PR student who has just completed a short work placement at automotive pr.  She finds her University studies to be boring and preferred her time behind the photocopier at the agency.

As I’ve commented (awaiting moderation), I feel she needs to realise the value of education is what you put into it.  Interesting take that the post title is Bad Education? implying the agency is more supportive of her perspective.

I’d love to know your take on this… 

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

6 thoughts on “Is photocopying really better PR education?”

  1. I agree that “education is what you put into it.” However, I’ve heard from many people in the “media arts,” for lack of a better term (people in journalism, marketing, PR, etc.), that the real learning happens on the job. As primarily a writer/editor and new media content creator, I agree with this and it’s been my experience. The more theoretical aspects of courses are very interesting for those interested in viewing their industry from a wide vantage point. In PR, new media, and marketing, where strategies are changing daily and big campaigns (and big failures) influence decisions and direction, it’s essential to be current on the theory behind our jobs. However, can the day-to-day work of PR be done without these classes? As in the case the intern, the answer seems to be yes.

    Education is what you make it, but desire to learn, desire to keep learning, and a flexible and interdisciplinary approach are, in my opinion, more important than just education.

  2. I agree with your implication that learning happens within us and it is a pro-active process. But, I don’t believe you can learn everything “on the job” and although you can do the day-today work of PR without studying, you won’t get far without a willingness to learn and develop.

    It is disappointing that many in PR seem to resist seeking knowledge – such as with the lack of engagement overall in PR in respect of new media.

    Practice and application are good ways of learning – so the integration of study and placement is an excellent one. If we look at sports, a great deal of study goes into developing natural talent. Education is important in most “practical” disciplines from being a chef to operating as a surgeon. Why is PR so quick to deny the value of University education?

    I see this as a symbiotic relationship and one we need to continue for life.
    Of course, you can’t learn everything about PR in the classroom but it seems a shame when students don’t grasp the opportunity that is presented to them there.

  3. That is not always the case. I am a PR Student and in the last year, I have given a lecture to the Masters Students on ‘Activism,’ become the CIPR Rep, become the PR Officer of a club in the university, and currently organizing an event and seeking work placement. Even my blogging was initiated by my tutor. He supported me and helped in many aspects, giving me time and explaining me things about the blogsphere.

    It is just disappointing for me to see that the blame is put on lecturers when a student didn’t put anything in the studies him/her self.

    I study at Leeds Met as well, and I don’t agree with any of the points she made. Rather I would say, the tutors go out of their way to help students. I could not do all this in a year (specially give a lecture), if the tutor didn’t support my idea and gave me chance.

  4. Rajiv – I am glad to hear your point of view about Leeds Met. I know many of the tutors there and agree that they are a good bunch. But I also recognise the sentiment that I’ve sometimes come across with 1st years who haven’t yet understood Uni isn’t like school, and if they bother to connect with the tutors as real people they will add some depth to their studies.

  5. OK, an input from Bonny Scotland

    I worked on a three month PR contract and started studying the Advanced Certificate after it. One task on my contract was to edit out the profits and financial information from a CEO’s speech for an employee magazine. I was told that employees don’t want the ins and outs of profits and losses at grass roots level. OK I accepted that but now I know that by looking at stakeholder analysis and the way in which you target an internal audience is very different from other publics. Had I been given an explanation of central V peripheral thinkers as well, perhaps I’d have much more of an idea of why I was to write my piece differently.

    Another example of why I wished I’d known the stuff I’ve learned from Heather Yaxley’s brilliant workbooks and superb lecturing by Alexis Burnett here in Edinburgh is methods of evaluation. I tailored eight different press releases to a worldwide audience during my contract. I took no steps to see if any “noise” had occurred during transmission. Indeed, had all or just some hit the mark? I’ve no idea at all. I delivered no evaluation results…Why? I didn’t know I had too. Now I could advise and implement my own methods purely by what I’ve learned on the advanced certificate course.

    It can’t all be learned on the job at all as I’ve helped demonstrate.

  6. Thanks Jill for the support and your examples. I am not sure that I agree with removing all financial information when talking with employees – sometimes companies patronise people in thinking they won’t want the detail – but maybe it should be available for those who do – with topline information in a magazine.

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