Breaking into PR: relevant degree vs relevant experience

With university acceptance increasing year on year and PR continuing to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK, a question I can guarantee will be striking the next generation of PR professionals is: does a PR degree = PR success?

A quick search on UCAS informed me that there are, no less than, 521 (!) undergraduate PR courses to choose from….a number significantly greater than what I’d initially anticipated. This led me to wonder what the benefits of a PR degree are and whether, alone, the skills taught are sufficient enough to land you your dream job in the industry.

Speaking from my experience, a PR degree is not the only route available, in fact, there are countless options – each of which are sure to have their respective merits and drawbacks.

Currently studying for a Bachelor of Science in Geography, I may not be what you’d expect from a budding PR. On the surface, my degree shouts rocks, rivers and rain, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find teamwork, analysis and problem solving. In my opinion, it’s these transferable skills that will land you your first taste of the industry, not the fact that you’ve been lectured about the history of PR, for example.

A PR degree aims equip you with a broad understanding of the industry as well as tangible skills such as copywriting – both of which are necessities for a professional. Whilst this route is definitely an option if you’re confident that PR is the industry for you, a love of writing and an affinity for current affairs provides a basis that can be built upon through experience – e.g. an internship – no matter what you’re studying.

Whether you’ve got a degree or not, experience in the workplace is what will put everything into perspective – it’s all well and good knowing how to structure a press release, but every client is different and it’s unlikely that you’ll be writing perfect releases straight away; this kind of thing takes practice and time to evolve.

All else aside, the key to PR, whether you have a degree in it, or not, is experience. If you have a blog, great, write for a student newspaper, even better! These hobbies will improve your writing skills and will impress employers when stating your search for work experience.

Whatever route you choose to take, always have on your mind innovative and interesting ways to sell yourself. PR is a competitive industry so standing out from the crowd will definitely help you get noticed!