The Professional World of PR at Leeds Beckett

by Lizzy Kniffin

PR life at Leeds Beckett University is professional, connected, diverse, and engaging. It is also well renowned, as it has the most prestigious as well as largest PR education in Europe. The Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) named the university as one of its ‘eleven elite’ universities for its offering of communications and public relations courses.

I am a Masters student of International Communication with the Geert Hofstede Consortium. My first semester was spent at Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, Netherlands, and my second semester is here in Leeds. PR is the specialized focus of this semester, and Leeds Beckett is therefore the perfect fit.

The world of briefs, audits, working in-house, or in an agency, are all new concepts to me, but are becoming increasingly more familiar, and especially so thanks to the immense amount of practical work we are exposed to. It is for this reason that I picked this Masters program because I knew it would be skilled based, and less about the typical academic ritual of sitting, taking notes, and regurgitating them for an exam.

Upon my first module day with Robert Minton Taylor, he expressed fervently to us that we would be treated as professionals, and his module would be carried out in that manner. It does indeed feel like my classmates and I are colleagues coming together in a work setting for training and learning professional skills.

Furthermore, it is the opportunity to work on real consultancy projects that is at the ethos of this professionalism. It is not only the cherry on top of making PR at Leeds Beckett so elite, but it is the foundation of our learning as we learn the delicate nuances of interacting with clients. Every week, Robert brings his life experiences to our module, and we benefit largely from this. PR is essentially about maintaining two way relationships, and Robert knows the subtleties behind them which he bestows onto us.

The reason PR life at Leeds Beckett is connected is exactly because of the working relationships the University holds to different institutions and companies. Whether for the chance to work with these groups, or have practitioners be guest speakers, students of PR benefit greatly from having such professional points to connect with at their fingertips. There are a multitude of ways to engage. Secondly, diversity is both present in our classroom with students of all backgrounds and ages with different sets of experiences, and the current situation and need for diversity and inclusion in PR is a part of our learning process. A further focus is the essential ability to work in teams as only the best functioning team who take the time to learn from each other and work cohesively with positive relationships will produce the best results.

Currently, it is working in groups which is probably my favourite part of the learning process. As well as understanding the UK perspective concerning PR, as I’m from the U.S. Our modules span three hours each, and require our direct participation, and full energy. Coffee breaks with those lovely orange cups, as well as a fulfilling hour in the gym assist in sustaining my daily life. I am eager to see how the semester finishes up, and to dig deeper into what successful PR is all about. I’m certain every day at Leeds Beckett will aid me and inspire me in getting there.

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