Behind the Spin under threat

Behind the Spin is a great magazine distributed to all student members of the and to all UK universities teaching public relations.  [It is also available to download in the members’ area of CIPR’s website]

It was the brainchild of John Hitchins at the in Plymouth, but has proved to be a national success featuring articles from students, lecturers, researchers and practitioners on all aspects of public relations.

Now I hear that the publication is under threat because CIPR has decided to withdraw its contribution to the funding. 

What is particularly brilliant about Behind the Spin is that it reflects topics of value to those starting out on their careers in PR and provides an excellent platform for their individual and combined talents.

It is a showcase for public relations as a profession and I believe it is exactly the type of initiative that a professional body such as CIPR should be supporting.  Of course, other revenue sources should also be sought;  although Behind the Spin is only published three times a year, it has a unique, targeted circulation of PR undergraduates.

Behind the Spin should be viewed as a good marketing tool by CIPR to encourage those studying PR at University to become members.  These young people are the lifeblood of the profession and should become engaged in the Institute at the earliest stage of their career.

Is it not possible to offer funding direct from student membership fees – with a view that the lifelong value of such members should be substantial? 

I hope CIPR will reconsider its decision and urge any former students who have enjoyed the magazine along with anyone involved in PR education to lobby Mark Ramsdale (Head of Education Policy) by email: MarkR@cipr.co.uk.

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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.

8 thoughts on “Behind the Spin under threat”

  1. I don’t recall ever seeing this, should I have had a copy? It certainly sounds interesting. I shall try and download it. Hopefully the CIPR will have a rethink if there are enough objections.

  2. Heather, I’m going to have to take your word on the value of Behind the Spin, but it’s withdrawal does seem reflective of the ever decreasing support that is offered to new entrants into our dark art…

    We seem to be giving up on graduates now – perhaps they’re just too expensive?
    I’d suggest that at least 50% of UK agencies offer little or no formal training, add to that the withdrawal of what would appear to be an essential tool in the development of a young PR professional and it’s little wonder that the press corps complain at such length about the ineptitude of our AEs ad AMs.

  3. Spudgun – I think you are right regarding support given to new entrants to some extent. However, the calibre of the young graduates from Bournemouth this year was very strong and I know that many have secured good jobs, so that is encouraging. What is important for them though is that they aren’t “re-educated” in the dark arts and poor practices that get PR such a bad name.

    It would be totally bizarre if there is a rejection of graduates as being too expensive. No wonder the reputation of the profession is poor if those who have bothered to learn something about it are then viewed as less worthy of employment than anyone who’ll work for cheap.

    And as I’ve said before and you indicate, training and learning doesn’t stop with the degree as in PR it is essential to be a lifelong learner rather than rely on the same old, often unethical practices.

  4. Firstly, to clarify, the CIPR is not going to withdraw entirely its sponsorship of Behind the Spin.

    The decision to reduce the levels of sponsorship to the magazine, which is not a CIPR publication, is due to our changing focus to engage directly with student members, younger practitioners and those considering a career in PR.

    PR is consistently one of the top career choices for young people and we are receiving greater demand for information to help people make an informed decision. With this in mind, we are producing a guide to the industry and what people can expect from a career in PR. It will also outline where people can study public relations at different levels.

    We now have a Student Liaison Officer who shall be attending careers fairs and other related events and we are improving the benefits to student members through our growing work placement programme, student competitions and strengthened careers advice.

    This has been a particularly difficult decision as the magazine does an excellent job in meeting the needs of younger practitioners as you say. With that in mind, I am taking forward discussions with the magazine’s editor and editorial board to see how we can support the magazine in future years.

  5. Mark – thank you for your comments and it is good to hear that CIPR is going to continue to support Behind the Spin – which I hope will contribute towards its ongoing publication and development.

    I look forward to hearing more in due course regarding new initiatives from CIPR to engage with students, younger practitioners and those looking to enter the profession.

  6. For some reason I still get sent the Spin magazine, despite graduating in 2004.

    The intentions is clearly good, but the contributions from students are consistently lacking in substance (trotting out the same old professionalism argument over and over again is one example) and badly written. There doesn’t seem a purpose to the magazine – a number of articles in the last one I saw appeared to be cut and pasted straight from disertations, and I’m sure (or I’d like to be sure) that all PR students are taught to write for different audiences. I’m not even convinced that it’s proof read before going to print.

    There are a lot of brilliant student newspapers and magazines out there, but unfortunately Behind the Spin isn’t one of them. Unfortunately titled too, given that I spend most of my working life persuading people that PR isn’t associated with spin. Aside from UCE (but I’m biased), I thought Mark and John was one of the best places to study PR – it does itself no favours with this magazine. Are there no local PR companies who could give up some time to help them improve it and inject a bit of direction?

    I’m sure there are a lot of people already working in PR, myself included, who would like to help the next generation along the way, but if the only time we hear from them is in this magazine, and if the ones that make it into the magazine are the cream of the crop, that’s a bit worrying.

  7. Sarah,

    You make some good points here about the need for strong editorial input with any magazine. I suppose one of the issues with student input is that each new intake is confronting the same issues such as professionalism. It might seem repetitive to you, but as we see in blogosphere, many of the old chestnuts in PR continue to go round and round. For example, poor practice of PRs working with journalists. So it isn’t surprising if students want to address these again.

    I agree that all magazines need a clear purpose – I believed that there is normally a theme to editions that helps draw articles together. You are right that part of producing written work is to target to the audience and work should certainly be proof-read. There are roles here that could be assigned to students to improve their understanding of the production process – ie sub-editors.

    I think you are rather harsh regarding the quality of PR students and Behind the Spin as a student publication.

    In terms of the title, I am sure it is not meant to state that PR is spin, but as you indicate that there is more behind PR than this most public perception.

    The magazine has contributions from students at Universities across the UK (including probably UCE), but of course if Marjon’s name is most closely associated with it, then there is a responsibility there to make necessary improvements.

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