17 Aug 2023


Spreckley news

Theory vs Practice: Did my university degree help me prepare for a career in PR?

Written by Benjamin Hart, Senior Account Executive at Spreckley

Be honest, we’ve all wheeled out ‘What did you study at university?’ as an icebreaker in our most awkward and desperate moments. However,  when people find out I studied the subject of the field I work in, they are often genuinely surprised it appears this is a rarity these days.

In the field of PR, putting theory into practice is set to become even more uncommon. When scrolling through LinkedIn, I noticed a post claiming that only two PR university courses in the UK remain. This left me thinking about the value of my degree, whether it helped prepare me for my current role and if the extinction of the PR degree will impact the industry as a whole.

When I started at Spreckley in November 2021, my immediate thoughts were, do I have the skills to fulfil this role? Do I even know what I am doing? I felt a little unprepared, not knowing that Spreckley would mould me into the PR professional I am today.

What did I gain from my PR degree?

On reflection, I’ve found that the main benefits from my PR degree have been press release and speech writing, project work and campaign design. Developing these skills has helped me strengthen my writing and formatting, boosting my confidence when doing the real thing and aiding me when building relationships with clients. Furthermore, time-sensitive deadlines for assignments enabled me to better my organisation and time management skills, making juggling tasks for live clients easier in my day-to-day activities.

Nevertheless, the majority of my degree involved research and the analysis of theory, which I’ve found less beneficial. Understanding the nuances between different types of media has certainly been important, while discussing tools such as PESO has provided insights into media types and the importance of owned media. However, modules that were more focused on the overall tone and emotional messaging of each form of media seem less valuable now that I have begun my career. 

Throughout my degree, there seemed to be a lack of focus on media relations, byline and media alert writing, and client relations – all pivotal facets of a role in PR. This left me unprepared, but I found the adjustment smooth thanks to a strong foundation of writing skills and time spent networking.

My Career so far in PR

There is an underlying narrative that implies one needs a PR degree to venture into a career in PR, but this could not be further from the truth. When starting at Spreckley, I felt like a PR novice, but with a great support network and inclusive training, I’ve learnt skills that I did not possess upon graduating from university.

I’ve learnt a lot in the past year and a half, such as drafting pitches, forming relationships with journalists and clients, drafting bylines and media alerts, and gaining a more in-depth understanding of what PR is and what we as an agency are trying to achieve.

Funnily enough, when joining Spreckley, I had no idea what a byline or a media alert even was, let alone how to write one!

A message to those pursuing a career in PR

When reflecting on my university degree, I see positives and negatives, but overall it was a solid first step into the PR world.

Nevertheless, PR degrees are not a necessity when entering the industry. Anyone with a passion for writing, who loves a chat with journalists and is highly motivated, can enter this sector and achieve great success.