Rachel:

Bryony is a former classmate of mine from Leeds Metropolitan University. Throughout our degrees we worked together on multiple challenging and exciting projects. Without a doubt, Bry was one of the best people to have in your team at university, hardworking, dedicated, knowledgeable and fun!

Flattery over, I picked up on this old article she wrote almost two years ago and I thought it worth highlighting, especially as new PR students start their courses this Autumn.

I did a few internships in PR agencies, but found that I generally preferred the inhouse environment, however Bry highlights some of the fantastic skills and experiences she gained through working at agencies.

Follow Bry on Twitter @brypieee to keep up with her activities post-graduation.

Originally posted on Here. Have some BryPie.:

As some of you may know, I’m currently on my placement year working for two AWESOME Leeds-based PR agencies, Umpf and The Right Agency. I’ve been working with them since May 2012 on some amazing yet challenging accounts (Seven in total, plus other smaller jobs I do to help out with others)! Both agencies share the same offices and some of the same accounts – Umpf is a consumer PR agency while The Right Agency is B2B and trade.

Last week at the PRide YL Awards, both agencies won a collection of Gold and Silver awards (in fact, Umpf cleaned up with five Golds and one Silver)!! It really does prove that some of the best quality PR agencies are in the north – just take a read through this to find out why.

But anyway, here are a few reasons why I love working for these two agencies and…

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View of the city from the castle

View of the city from the castle

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Last year I had a wonderful holiday to Edinburgh with my family. We took bus tours around the city, visited the castle, the underground streets (I recommend The Real Mary King’s Close), enjoyed the street entertainment and marvelled at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It was a wonderful trip to a city for which I have always held a certain fondness.

I don’t often visit Scotland but I love the place. From the beautiful cities to the awe-inspiring landscapes, from the rich history to the people. It’s a country I have always felt a strong connection to.

Scotland has played an important role in my family history as well, a long line of our ancestors could be found stomping across the country. More recently both my parents and maternal grandparents met at Scottish universities, my grandparents both having spent some of their childhoods growing up there. All my life I’ve heard them speak warmly of their time in the country.

Whether I think Scotland should become independent or not is entirely irrelevant, I do believe that the referendum is very important to give Scots the opportunity to discuss and decide upon their future. The conversations that has arisen as a result of the vote have been very interesting and made us think about alternative futures and their implications upon our lives.

No matter what decisions are made today, I will always hold a place for Scotland in my heart. And if you’ve never been, I would strongly recommend a visit.

There’s something happening in west Nottingham at the moment. Wherever you go, be prepared to be greeted by roadworks, workmen and the (more than) odd delay. And what has caused this disturbance? That would be the trams!

We’ve been waiting for the west Nottingham tram route for a long time now, if I recall correctly it was originally scheduled to be running already, but that didn’t happen. It is now on its way, but this has resulted in a lot of work and disruption, and generally the feeling in my home town of Beeston seems to be rather negative. As a result, it’s great to have a nice good news story about the trams, and this is what we saw at the end of May.

Hannah Kirk’s house has apparently been particularly struck by the work and she was worried that it would interfere with her wedding day. After discussions with the contractor, Taylor Woodrow Alstom, it was arranged so that the day wouldn’t be disrupted and the workmen put on a nice little show. There was a red carpet, serenades, a guard of honour courtesy of the diggers and a message in the tarmac.

My mother and I ventured down towards towards the university to see if we could spy any evidence of this event a couple of weeks ago and at that point the message was still there.

It’s not a huge thing, but Taylor Woodrow Alstom managed to make one bride’s day just that little bit extra special, and managed to give us a much needed good news story about the trams.

Read more here.

I recently completed my PR degree which has left me in a rather reflective mood. A while ago someone asked me what it was that you did on a PR degree and it took me a while to summarise it effectively into a description. This is an extended version of that description, so what did my PR course involve?

As expected, theory plays a significant role within the course, we mostly covered topics including business theory, marketing, communication and even some psychology. In addition to this there were some more vocational topics, such as writing skills and media database management.

Theory only plays one part of a degree, arguably the most valuable outcome is the range of skills developed. The skills I gained are not exclusive to PR degrees, however behind each lesson was the expectation that these would be applied in a PR context. These included teamwork, research and analysis and presentation skills.

Work experience is encouraged throughout and this is where we learn a lot of the practical skills required to perform a PR role. These can include copywriting, media monitoring, social media management, media relations. You will also find yourself involved in a lot of day to day administration for PR activity which is fantastic experience for your future jobs. These placements offer a great opportunity to get a good understanding of PR and communications in a practical context, learn the current industry practices and start to build up your contact  book.

CIPR_logo_2011_72_dpiMy course is accredited by the CIPR and we were eligible for free membership which gives you access to the monthly PR Week magazine and a treasure-trove of online resources. During my degree we also had plenty of opportunities to attend CIPR events and lectures.

A PR degree by no means guarantees entry into a PR role, indeed many employers favour more traditional degrees, but it does provide a great platform from which to dive into the industry.

If you are interested in studying Public Relations, my course was at Leeds Metropolitan University. There are also a number of alternative PR courses, find out more  information by looking on UCAS.

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Are you current or former PR student, do you degree with my description of a PR course?

Rachel Barkley 25 before 25Today is my birthday, I’m 24 which is an age that has always seemed far too old for me. It does mean that I am now a year away from 25, a year which seems to be awarded significant merit as a landmark age. I anticipate it being a busy year for me, and a strange one, it’s the first year where I will not be a student at all!

I decided to list 25 things to do before I hit that oh so big 25!

1.         Get a career mentor

I once had a mentor at a previous job, but I couldn’t quite work out what the purpose of the relationship was. I can now see the advantages to having a mentor and would like that as I start to build my career.

2.         Meet 25 people

Meeting 25 new people in a year is easy, but I want to meet, impact and develop a relationship with 25 new people.

3.         Visit 5 new places

I love exploring places, new towns, countryside, countries. I want to keep seeing just a little bit more of this world.

4.         Learn 15 new recipes

I can just about cook to survive, but I can’t cook to impress. In the last 5 years I’ve been in awe of my parents and their ability to create dishes every single night, now I think it’s my turn to start learning new recipes and impress them!

5.         Learn to run 5k with ease

I actually dislike running so this is a weird goal. I love sprinting but hate having to run anything that I cannot do at full pelt. 5k is not actually that far though and it would be useful to be able to do it, if I wanted.

6.         Try 5 new sports/exercise classes

There is definitely an exercise or sport out there for me that I have yet to discover. I’m thinking Pilates, spinning, weight training, kettle bells, or maybe something completely different.

7.         Read 25 books

I love reading but I just don’t make time for it. I want to change that, I want books to replace my night time phone ritual and I want to discover my new favourite novel.

8.         Write 25 more blog posts

I also want to write more, develop my blog to fit my purposes – I’m not longer a student. Create better content, write more effectively and enjoy it!

9.         Work with a charity

I support a number of charities via donations but I would like to get really involved with a charity and make a real impact on their activities. The hardest decision will be choosing a charity to support in this way.

10.       Do a fundraising challenge

This is most likely going to be a punishing fitness related challenge, but I want to do it, and I want to do one which will really test me.

11.       Lose *lbs

Being healthy is a huge goal for me, goodbye student lifestyle of sugary energy drinks, takeaways and late nights. And goodbye to the student weight gain. Of course the internet does not need specific measurements here…

12.       Write 5 guest blog posts

Time for me to get my name out across the internet, I want to contribute to other blogs, something I’ve been hesitant to do previously.

13.       Buy an iron

All 25 year olds need their own iron.

14.       Go to 5 gigs

I love live music, but don’t see enough, I want to go and see 5 new bands or singers and just enjoy the moment.

15.       Cut my hair and keep it cut

I’ve had my hair long since I was a teenager. I like my long hair, but inevitably I always wear it up and there is no point having it. I want to get the hair cut to a reasonable, maintainable length, and keep it at that point – rather than just regrowing it!

16.       Set up a pension

Living the dream…

17.       Buy an expensive clothing item

I never spend significant money on clothing, but what I do have I make last, so an expensive item would be well used over its life.

18.       Try something new in a restaurant

I’m extremely predictable in restaurants, I know what I like and that’s what I’ll eat. I think it’s time to try something completely different.

19.       Go offline for a week…or a day… an hour?

This will be the biggest challenge of them all, but online life is not all that great. Can I switch off though?

If you haven’t seen this video from April, it’s a nice representation of the issues of life online.

20.       Learn about money

Got to be done, I’ve already said I want a pension, but I also need to learn about savings, investments – even mortgages will hopefully make my list eventually!

21.       Pass my driving test

It’s a little bit of a joke that I have been learning to drive on/off since I was 17. This joke needs to end now!

22.       Learn to make 5 cocktails/mocktails

Important life skill!

23.       Improve my posture

Slouching is for teenagers, time to sit up tall!

24.       Stop drinking energy drinks

I developed a nasty habit of drinking a lot of caffeinated drinks at university, and this crept into the workplace. I need to learn to live a life without caffeine!

25.       Try a new hobby

Top5I finished my PR course two weeks ago – four years of PR education have finally come to an end. As I adjust to life post-university I reflected on five things great things about my PR course at Leeds Met.

1) Professional recognition 

Leeds Met is a PRCA partner university, and the course is CIPR accredited, meaning that it has been designed to meet the needs of the PR industry.

We’re also eligible for CIPR membership and this has given us access to a number of events and lectures as well as online resources.

2) Placements

The course emphasises the benefits of undertaking placements throughout the course, this includes the option of a 12 month placement year.

Some of the most important lessons I’ve learnt have been out of the classroom and placements nicely complement the course. We’re assessed every year on our placement work through our professional portfolios which are great for showing at interviews.

3) Competition opportunities

PR students are given the opportunity to enter a number of competitions throughout their degree. The annual Claire Mascall PR prize offered the opportunity to answer a complicated brief. Final year students also get the chance to do a competitive pitch to a PR agency.

4) Vocational modules

The competitive pitch module was one of my favourites of my course. There were some great vocational modules, another of my favourites was the communications audit, we got the opportunity to work with a client, in our case a York-based charity, to solve a communications problem. It was very challenging, but by far the most rewarding module we did.

leedsmet5) Knowledgeable tutors

I couldn’t write a post about my university experience without mentioning the tutors. The course has a great range of teaching staff from PR backgrounds. They know their stuff, and their enthusiasm for PR is infectious.

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Next week I’ll answer the important question… what do you actually learn on a PR course?

Top5There’s a bit of a theme on my blog recently. If you hadn’t noticed I’ve spent a lot of time depicting the end of my degree, from how I’m surviving the final month, to my job hunt, and now to my experience of Leeds.

I’ve lived in Leeds now, on and off, for over three years. Most of this time has been spent in a little student bubble of Hyde Park, university and local pubs. There are a few things though that I would recommend to all visitors, students and general Leeds goers!

1) Watch a film at Hyde Park Picture House

We’d lived in Hyde Park for nearly a year and a half before my friends and I ventured into Hyde Park Picture House. I’d always admired the facade whenever I popped into Sainsbury’s and yet never thought to actually go.

Then we did go in. It’s a lovely, old cinema with one screen. It’s pretty, a great experience and actually has a nice selection of films available even if it can’t compete with the vast cinema complexes.

Find out more here.

2) Gaze in awe at the ceiling of the Corn Exchange

The Corn Exchange is now a deceptively large boutique shopping centre. It is also one of the finest examples of architecture that you will ever see, the ceiling in particular is fantastic!

Enjoy the independent shops, grab a bite to eat, and stare at the ceiling!

There’s a great slideshow of the building here.

3) Sing loudly to Arctic Monkeys at Moustache Tuesdays

There’s no shortage of nightlife in Leeds! As a student we found an excess of options every night of the week. I personally haven’t been sampling the nightlife so much since about 2010, but this year did find a new home in the O2 basement for Moustache.

Alternatively if bars are more your thing, wile away the hours on Call Lane. There’s also the legendary Otley Run for those with drinking stamina and a love of fancy dress.

4) Red’s BBQ

I think this is probably a sufficient description:

“Two house-made 100% steak burgers flame grilled over hickory, melted double cheese, smoked peppered bacon dirty sauce and deep fried crispy onions, all between two sweet glazed donuts. Served with hush puppies and skin-on fries.  It shouldn’t work, but sweet Red above.  It’s incredible.  #DONUTBURGER” Red’s BBQ

Visit the website and choose your meat of choice – you won’t regret it!

Not the donut burger, just another one of their amazing creations!

5) Roundhay Park

I’ve never actually visited, it’s too far from where I live. But I’ve driven past it enough! I’m a big fan of parks and this ticks all the boxes. So excuse me while I try and find my way there to enjoy the sun!

                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Where are your favourite spots in Leeds?

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