Public Relations (PR) concerns the reputation of organisations and individuals in relation to their public perception and the views of their various publics. It is an organised attempt to influence the behaviour and opinions of stakeholders and stakeholder groups, through short-term and long-term engagement activities.
PR can make or break an organisation, and its importance is increasing as social and digital media play an increasingly important role in shaping and sharing the opinions of its users. Good PR can transform a local organisation or product into a worldwide success, whilst bad PR can destroy a business in minutes. PR can also be used to develop a competitive advantage for organisations – helping to open up new markets, attract the best employees, and provide more access to funding and investors. Organisations of all types and all sizes, from sole-traders to international corporate giants, can benefit from the effective use of PR.
According to the Public Relations Consultants Association’s 2011 PR Census, the PR industry employs over 61,000 individuals in the UK, the vast majority of whom hold a degree or masters level qualification.
Historically, the PR industry has been an industry dominated by graduates, particularly white, females. There is however, a growing awareness that a more diverse PR workforce which better reflects the make-up of the stakeholders it is trying to influence would benefit the industry. The Higher Apprenticeship in Public Relations will support this aim through opening up access to the PR profession, particularly in providing an alternative entry route into the industry.
One of the charges often laid against PR degrees is that, although they provide the underpinning knowledge and understanding of PR, they fail to provide graduates with real business experience of how to apply that knowledge to PR tasks. By combining on-the-job and off-the-job learning, those undertaking this apprenticeship will more quickly develop insights into their organisation or clients’ needs and therefore be more effective in applying their PR knowledge to support their organisation or clients’ goals. The apprenticeship will enable learners to apply the knowledge and skills developed through the apprenticeship to real business issues.
This apprenticeship provides a foundation in PR for new entrants and existing workers in the PR profession. Successful apprentices will be able to progress to further education, should they wish to do so. On enrolling onto the apprenticeship programme apprentices will become PRCA members free of charge for the duration of the programme. This gives them the chance to network with peers, learn from industry heads and become part of Europe’s largest PR association. Following completion of the programme learners can progress towards full membership of a PR professional body.
Roles which may be suitable for learners who complete the Higher Apprenticeship in Public Relations include Senior Account Executive, Account Manager, Communications Manager and Press Officer.
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