Kick-starting your career in Public Relations: Theory versus Practice, Uni versus Experience

by Holyrood Partnership

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Written by David Gallagher

David Gallagher, internUpon completing my penultimate year studying Public Relations, I decided that a good move would be to try to obtain an internship working in the sector to gain some experience. After a lot of emails back and forth between various companies, I ended up with a four-week internship at Holyrood Partnership.

I began studying Public Relations and Media three years ago, and have learned masses of theory that my lecturers promise will all be used religiously in working life. I have established from my time at Holyrood Partnership that this is almost true.

Public Relations theory touches on many different elements, such as relationship management, crisis management, persuasive communication, internal communications, external communications, to name but a few.

But it has become apparent that one module I studied was extremely relevant in my time at Holyrood Partnership: ‘Media Relations’ which involved creating a portfolio of mock press releases and blogs for a chosen publication. Holyrood Partnership is all about writing stories and getting clients’ messages into the news through media releases and features, so this relates exactly to what we were tasked with. Unfortunately though, it was only a six-month long module in our opening year that wasn’t given much emphasis, and I think that with the volume of writing involved in working in the public relations sector this is not enough to properly equip graduates.

At University we are introduced to theory models from scholars such as Grunig and Hunt amongst many others, but these specific theories are not necessarily important when it comes to working in the industry from day to day. Loosely, the models can be applied to work that is done, but I think it has been made clear from my internship that it’s more important to keep your clients happy than worry about Grunig and Hunt’s two way symmetrical models.

Theory engrains students with a knowledge that they can call upon throughout all working duties. For example the theory of external communication teaches of the importance of how an organisation communicates externally with its public, and the effect it can have on their image and reputation. This is extremely important in practice because we are working on behalf of clients trying to tell their stories in the best way possible externally through newspapers and online in order to boost their business and create a positive public image.

It’s key to have a wide knowledge of theory so that in all aspects of practice you understand why you’re doing it, in order to maximise positive results.

As I first expected, the practice is not like sitting in a lecture hall, but there is undoubtedly a breadth of knowledge within theory that is essential when working in the public relations industry.

In all professional industries, it is vitally important that there is a good mix of both theory and practice.

You won’t learn everything you need to know in the class room, but you also won’t learn it all working solely for a PR agency.

Balance theory and practice together, it’s a recipe for success.

Apply for an internship with an award winning PR agency

Fill in the form below to apply for an internship with Holyrood PR in Edinburgh.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Cover Letter

Upload your CV

Please leave this field empty.

Holyrood Partnership

Award-winning Scottish public relations agency Holyrood PR in Edinburgh tells powerful stories for its diverse business clients. Here the PR experts celebrate the firm's own stories, photography and video successes.

View Holyrood's Profile

Related Posts

So how can we help?

Meet the team

Meet the team

Our people

Meet the people who make Holyrood PR what it is, and get an insight into what makes them tick

Make an impact with PR photography

Make an impact with PR photography

Find out more

Every story can be told better with pictures. Discover our affordable, high-impact photo packages.

If you have any comments or questions, please contact us.

GET ON THE PRIORITY LIST

Keep ahead of your oppositions by getting the free tips, insights and secrets we share for businesses. Straight to your inbox, every month.
Email address
First Name
Last Name