Tag Archives: London PR Degree

A photo-call for digital media practice in PR education

I have just had a paper accepted for the APT (Academic Practice and Technology) conference, 2014, due to take place on my home turf of Greenwich in July this year.

It follows a project I received Greenwich Connect Seed Fund resourcing to provide thirteen digital cameras, together with Photoshop editing software for use with students throughout this academic year.

'Team Emily' interpret the brief for 'Project Wild Thing'

‘Team Emily’ interpret the brief for ‘Project Wild Thing’

We’ve used the cameras in a number of ways, and the Greenwich Connect team interviewed me themselves for a paper they presented at the LSE earlier this year – Bryant, P., Coombs, A. and Pazio, M. (2014) Are we having fun yet? Introducing play and experimentation into learning innovation through social media. In: OER14: Building Communities of Open practice, 23-25 Apr 2014, Newcastle, UK.  Excuse my fat face…..

Introduction to Project:

Generating Greater Engagement:

Developing Professional Identity:

Developing as a Community:

While I will discuss this in the academic context in which it is posed in the paper I have put to the forthcoming conference in a future post, I thought it was worth sharing a few examples of the way students have been able to get their hands much ‘dirtier’ with regard to photography, as outlined in the videos above:

1)  Generating Greater Engagement:

Students have been able to use the cameras to produce collateral in response to real live briefs, as opposed to such responses being ‘academic’ exercises.  For example, students were asked to develop ideas for media photocalls, and executions to encourage audience participation and sharing for the ‘Project Wild Thing’ initiative (see photo above) – and to include in assessed portfolios.

2) Developing Professional Identity:

Final year student (2013-14) Nenna Ofoegbu

Final year student (2013-14) Nenna Ofoegbu

Students were encouraged to use the digital cameras to develop a image that they felt comfortable with to be used in a ‘shop window’ on Pinterest.

3) Developing as a Community:

PR Fraternity students at Weber Shandwick HQ

PR Fraternity students at Weber Shandwick HQ

Within the team, students such as Nara Mackenzie took on responsibility for documenting guest speaker visits such as creative publicist, Mark Borkowski and Polly Ravenscroft (whose clients have included X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and Hollyoaks) – and group visits such as that to Weber Shandwick HQ, or client-side discussions with the 2012 winner of BBC Great British Bake-Off, John Whaite.

Students with PR Squared's Polly Ravenscroft

Students with PR Squared’s Polly Ravenscroft

Social media editor for the PR Fraternity, Jo Ayre tweeted links to the photos, which were also posted in Pinterest.  This not only raised the profile of the events, it made students who had come together at the events (across 1st, 2nd and 3rd year undergraduate, plus postgraduate) develop a stronger sense of community – and made those who hadn’t come feel they had missed out on something – encouraging them to attend next time.

More on my paper in a future post, but I thought I would let you know a little bit about the project.

 

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Reflections on a lifetime in campaigning, public affairs – and changing the world

It’s not often someone can lay claim to have played a role, in no small part, in changing the world – and to a life whose record can provide such a rich set of reflections from which students of PR, communications and public affairs can learn so much – but Des Wilson is such a person.

Campaigner (with thanks to http://www.performingartistes.co.uk/artistes/345/des-wilson.htm)

Campaigning legend Des Wilson

I remember hearing from him at my first ever major political public meeting in 1988.  It was in the illustrious setting of the Farnborough Community Centre (almost as glamourous as the setting for my first music gig in 1978 – that was Blackbushe Airport, but it was Bob Dylan, both local venues to my parents, but I digress).  Des was taking part in the hustings for the first presidential contest of the then Social and Liberal Democrats, alongside the leadership contest between Paddy Ashdown and Alan Beith.

Farnborough Community Centre

Farnborough Community Centre

As ever, I didn’t back a winner.  Despite having previously been the Liberal Party’s president, he didn’t win that contest (the party seemed to think that if we had an ex-Liberal leader, we had to have an ex-SDP president) – but it didn’t matter.  By 1992, Des returned to a role much better suited to him, running Paddy Ashdown’s much lauded General Election campaign, for which he won a PR Week award for outstanding individual of that year.

It is one of the reasons I am personally so excited that the PR Fraternity, in conjunction with the University of Greenwich Big Picture series have secured Des Wilson to speak on campus this week over 25 years later.  In fact, I was dumb-founded when I heard that he had accepted our invitation – such a major player, such a shifter of opinions.  He’ll be reflecting on the lessons of decades of campaigning and public affairs experience – but I’m sure he’ll have something to say too about the current campaigning tactics of the Liberal Democrats since he (and I) long vacated that particular pitch.

Des will be speaking at the University of Greenwich on Wednesday 12th March, from 5.00-7.00pm.  If you want to join us, register for a place/ticket here:

Campaigning legend Des Wilson shares stories from his years delivering change

Campaigning legend Des Wilson shares stories from his years delivering change

In case you need reminding, or were born too late to know, Des helped set up the pioneering homelessness charity, Shelter, becoming its launch director.

In 1983, he became chairman of Friends of the Earth.  Also during that decade, he took a lead role in the campaign that led to Freedom of Information legislation, and launched the Clear campaign that successfully removed lead from petrol.

On the back of his work for the Liberal Democrats, Des became director of public affairs for Burson-Marsteller, and subsequently, director of corporate and public affairs for BAA from 1994-2000.

Throughout that fifty year career, Des also had a career in journalism, numerous other positions in public affairs and campaigning, and served on numerous boards in the public sector, such as the British Tourist Authority, and Sport England.

PRFratFEB

Des is the latest in the series of high profile guest speakers secured by the University of Greenwich’s student-run PR Fraternity this year, whose members include the students of the BA (Hons) Public Relations & Communications, and the MA Public Relations.

Having recently welcomed Mark Borkowski; Megan Carver (who shared her wealth of experience with The Outside Organisation, and within the music industry); and Andy Parfitt – the remaining two speakers after Des will be MD of PR Squared, television and celebrity publicist Polly Ravenscroft, and head of PR for Sky One, Tessa Matchett.

‘PR Fraternity’ pins student success on story-telling

I’m really proud of the PR alumni and students I have had the honour to teach at the University of Greenwich.  As I start to prepare for a new academic year for 2013/14, I’ve started reflecting on some the great positions some of them have gone on to in the world of PR – and the exciting opportunities the current cohort are taking on through internships and work experience.

FratAmos

We have graduates who have gone on to careers at major agencies (such as Weber Shandwick and Bell Pottinger), specialist agencies (such as FTI Consulting, Kaizo and Ian Johnson Publicity), and in-house, while others have set up on their own.  The ‘Pinterest’ site aims to capture a snapshot of some of their stories of success.

FratDaley

The ‘PR Fraternity‘ is the student-led community of alumni and students which provides networking opportunities, and guest speaker events against the back-drop of one of the finest venues in London – the Old Royal Naval College.  Working with the students, we have just launched a ‘Pinterest site’ to celebrate achievements, promote experience, and encourage networking – not to mention support recruitment.

http://pinterest.com/prfraternity/  Do take a look at the rest of the images – we will be adding to them on a rolling basis.

The location of the BA (Hons) Public Relations and Communications and MA Public Relations at the University of Greenwich, with Canary Wharf and the West End on its door-step is perfect for being able set up this level of experience, which can help lead to ultimate career success.

ThomWill

Above: Michelle Amos (Top); Claire Daley (Middle); Thom Will (Nearest above).

Top notch

With a subject area like Public Relations, it is vital to be able to bring to bear scenarios from professional practice, and top-notch speakers who can grab students’ interests.  This can be with a view to providing the arena for deep reflection on the relevance of theoretical concepts discussed on the course – and for students to be able to develop their own new solutions to creative problems and responses to emerging trends.

This term is already set to be an exciting one for the PR and Communications degree at the University of Greenwich welcoming guest speakers who turn heads and inspire such reflection.

Colleen Harris (here commentating on the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on ABC News)

Topical, with the discussions around invasion of privacy associated with KateDuchess of Cambridge, and separately, Prince Harry (ahem!), Colleen Harris will talk to PR students at the University of Greenwich on Friday 16th November.  Colleen is a former Press Secretary to HRH Prince of Wales, and the Princes William and Harry.  She has served on the Press Complaints Commission, as a senior press officer across Whitehall (including at Number 10), and was Director of Strategy and Communications at the Commission for Racial Equality.

Weber Shandwick CEO EMEA, Colin Byrne

On Tuesday 16th October, Colin Byrne, CEO, EMEA of world-leading public relations agency Weber Shandwick will be dropping by the world heritage site that is home to the University of Greenwich to share his latest insights on trends in the industry.

In “Top trends for PR in the engagement era” he will discuss how, in considering influences on their brand’s sociability, most public relations executives look to external forces – winning the approval of the right media, achieving a target number of “Likes” on Facebook and dominating coverage of certain topics. Internal strategy, planning, cohesiveness and comfort in the digital space must come first; internal focus and consistency of vision are areas where substantial improvement must be made by most brands.

Ken Deeks

On Friday 23rd November we have the pleasure of welcoming Ken Deeks, who has insight gathered from straddling the PR/journalist divide in his career.  He started off as a journalist working mainly for local newspapers as well as a spell on the Daily Mirror, before moving into PR. For several years, Ken ran a series of PR companies, operating mainly in the tech sector, including Kaizo. He then set up his own communications company KDL, which he ran for five years, before joining up with Paul Smith and Richard Baines to create The Amber Group. Ken is also the founder of Byte Night, the tech industry’s largest charity event.

Bell Pottinger Business and Brand’s MD, Kevin Read

Kicking off the term is Kevin Read, MD of Bell Pottinger Business and Brand, who will be speaking at our opening day Induction Event on Thursday 20th September.

Kevin’s main focus at Bell Pottinger Business and Brand is on resolving complex, international communications problems, shaping fresh, modern strategies and implementing integrated solutions that are typically spearheaded by PR.

He has more than 15 years senior consultancy experience and specialises in strategic planning and providing senior level business counsel. He has worked extensively for leading global brands (HSBC, British Gas, Unilever), a wide array of industry bodies (Nuclear, Food, Telecomms, Cosmetics, Drinks), government departments, NGOs and professional services firms.  At the induction event for University of Greenwich PR students, he will be addressing the theme of creativity.

Not bad – and term hasn’t even begun.  I couldn’t help blogging about it.

Team PR: You’ll have a meantime at the University of Greenwich

It’s that time of year when A-Level results become clear, and Clearing becomes an option for those whose results were not what they expected.

I teach on the BA (Hons) Public Relations and Communications at the University of Greenwich – and if that is the subject area you are considering for study, particularly in London, let me make sure you have all there is to know about our degree.

We’re based in one of the most beautiful parts of London – you may have seen us on the TV for the last few weeks as one of the Olympic 2012 venues, and soon to be the same for the Paralympics.  It is truly amazing.

The Old Royal Naval College – home to the University of Greenwich – provides the backdrop to Olympic and Paralympic activities in 2012.

One of the most important stresses of our course is employability.  You will find graduates of our relatively new degree working, amongst other destinations as a Publicist on BBC and E4 programmes at entertainment agency Ian Johnson Publicity, and an Account Executive at Kaizo.  From an Account Executive at Bell Pottinger, to one at The Good Agency.

Students take work experience placements while on the degree, with what they have learnt from those times being assessed as part of a course on professionalism.  Recent student PR placements have included Accessorize, Burton, Clifford French, Macmillan Cancer Support, Sotheby’s and Twestival.

On the video you will see two of the other key lecturing staff on the degree amongst the many others – programme leader, Nicky Garsten , and Mark Phillimore, who runs the MA too.

As well as them, there are other experienced lecturers like Mandy Atkinson who make up the team, a number of specialist visiting lecturers, as well as a host of guest lectures during the year.  During the coming term, Colin Byrne, CEO EMEA of Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s biggest PR agencies is joining us to give a guest lecture.

Geographically, the Business School of which we are a part sits right across the Thames from Canary Wharf and London’s prime business district.

And then I suppose there’s me.  I’d like to think that not too many PR degree courses offer a lecturer who teaches the same way as me.  In a former life, I was head of PR at BBC Radio 1, and I will use many of the case studies of sex, drugs and rock and roll from my little black book to illustrate lectures, whether on crisis management, or media relations.  As well as the corporate profile of the station, I managed the profile of anyone from Chris Moyles and Tim Westwood to Sara Cox, Trevor Nelson and Scott Mills.

Radio 1’s record-breaking breakfast host Chris Moyles hugs successor Nick Grimshaw

I’ve also worked in political PR and in government, supporting MPs and government ministers.  And as a freelancer consultant, my clients have included London radio station Kiss 100, music technology app Shazam, broadcaster Nicky Campbell, and radio industry trade body, the Radio Academy – you try managing a photo-call with George Michael.

I put a big priority on getting to know my students – this is public relations – and using my experiences and contacts to their best advantage.

I think our course content and approach, the lecturers on the course, and our unique location in London makes the University of Greenwich the best if you are considering studying Public Relations and Communications in London for 2012/13.  Plus the degree is accredited by the CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations), and is a partner university of the PRCA (Public Relations Consultants Association).

If you are involved in Clearing – you know what you’ve got to do!  And I hope there might be a chance I’m teaching you next term.  Good luck, whatever you decide to do.