The PR Guru

August 2, 2012


Finding and training the next generation of PR gurus is a problem for the industry at the moment.

Like many PR agencies, we are often approached by recent graduates looking for work experience, usually to help them eventually find work in marketing or journalism. We have often organised placements for between one and three months – in a couple of cases for people on journalism degree courses at Staffordshire University, who need to gain industry experience in their final year to help them graduate.

We’re pleased to say that many of them have gone on to find full-time jobs in PR and marketing, often finishing their placement early as they’ve found paid work earlier than expected. I like to think their placements here have made a big difference to their job prospects, although I don’t want to take all the credit 🙂

Over the past few months though we’ve pulled back from temporary placements, because I found it was taking up too much of my time – instead of giving me more time to focus on my campaigns (and bring in more business), I was actually using it creating work for them to do, and training them up.

This wasn’t a good use of my resources, because they were only with me for a short time. There were limitations on how much responsibility I wanted to give them, and how far I wanted to go with the training, because they were likely to leave within weeks when a paid position was offered to them.

That could be about to change though. I’m off to an event in Birmingham on Monday to find out more about PR apprenticeships. They are available through Pearson in Practice and the PRCA, and last for up to 18 months.

Training is available nationwide, through the PRCA, and starts in September. The apprentice ends up with plenty of industry experience and a Level 4 qualification – equivalent to the first year of a degree – and the employer (whether they are an agency or any other type of organisation) has a PR person on their workforce for at least a year – at a fraction of the cost of employing someone who’s already well into their career.

You will need to invest in training – unless the apprentice is aged 16 to 18, in which case the training is subsidised – and of course their wages. The apprentice wage at the moment is £2.60 per hour, and an increase due to come in on October 1st which lift that to £2.65.

At 37.5 hours a week, that would add up to under £5200 for the year – at least three times less than you could expect to pay someone with two or three years experience.

It’s a no-brainer for PR companies, in my view. It presents a great opportunity to grow without having to make a major investment in wages. And it gives graduates a chance to gain real experience in PR, rather than a month here and there.

Monday’s event is at Malmaison, at The Mailbox, and kicks off at 8am. If you can’t make it to Birmingham, there are others in Bristol and Brighton next week.

For more information contact Erika Smallridge at Pearson in Practice on 0845 055 6404 or

Look forward to seeing you there!




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