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Cheyenne O'Kane, University of Greenwich PR Fraternity President, student member CIPR Education and Skills Committee
Prior to a meeting with a Careers Guidance Officer at College, I had no idea which university course to embark on. If it enabled me to take a gap year beforehand and had people at the heart of the profession I was open to suggestions. However, this is a broad spectrum to present as nursing, human resources and marketing for example all share this commonality. We narrowed down the search by bringing interests and experience into the equation. As a student who had enjoyed writing, public speaking and the psychology behind decision making, the path defining question of my education was consequently asked “have you ever heard of public relations?”
Admittedly no. Between history and sports science PR had never cropped up in conversation, but the air of mystery around these two letters made it even more intriguing. Research began to break down this attractive sounding subject. I learnt that PR encompasses an array of disciplines including English, psychology and maths with the end goal “to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics” (CIPR, 2018).
To discover that there was a profession where relationships were nurtured for positive mutual gain bestowed a huge amount of joy and realisation on me. It seemed we were taught in school the only way you can directly help people is through physical care, but I wanted to marry a business mind with a change driven attitude and PR presented the answer.
When weighing up how best to travel down the PR path, internships and university seemed like the most appropriate routes. An apprenticeship offered ‘on the job’ learning, a wage in most cases and the step that would ultimately have to be taken, full time work. University on the other hand offered a modular approach to learning with like minded newbies taking the time to learn theory, practise, collaborate, improve and try again. As someone who only had a small amount of media experience this way would allow me to build confidence and find my feet. The PR and Communications course I ultimately enrolled on at the University of Greenwich supplemented theory with networking opportunities, exposure to industry professionals and placements in the bustling heart of public relations, London. As a Bachelor of Arts with Honours course additional emphasis was placed on the creativity you could exercise whilst studying; not only was I going to be equipped as a practitioner, I was going to enjoy the journey too.
My favourite modules so far have been Digital Communications and PR Planning, both classes have provoked discussion and allowed students to practise newly acquired skills like corporate video production and journalistic writing. In Digital Communications the class was structured in a workshop environment, inviting guest lecturers from the industry to provide real experience and true to life tasks. I particularly enjoyed the process of content creation with my peers, we thrived in a creative setting and felt more confident planning, creating and editing video with purpose afterwards as a result.
Two years later my expectations have been surpassed, every day I discover a little more about the fast paced, dynamic world of public relations. This vital function of any organisation, from technology to healthcare, keeps you on your toes in the best way as PR’s influence is found everywhere.
Working methods are constantly evolving when adhering to digital revolutions and client needs, so for prospective students deciding options PR must be the most exciting industry to be in right now. I chose to study PR at University to make a positive change as a communicator, not only have I been prepared for a future to do so, but I have been challenged, developed and driven to be the best I possibly can be.
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