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Student success at leading agency

UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 05 MAY

Five former Birmingham School of Media students are now calling each other colleagues after landing roles at leading Midlands firm, WPR, following the completion of their public relations studies at Birmingham City University.

A testament to their professional skills, applied understanding and personal achievements, this quintet of PR graduates has successfully kicked off their careers at WPR, a multi-award winning PR, social and search agency based in Birmingham that prides itself on its ‘people-first’ ethos.

Nicole Daybell and Rachel Hickey both graduated from the BA (Hons) Media and Communications course as PR specialists, now run as the BA (Hons) Public Relations and Media course, in July 2019, and were quickly snapped up by the agency.

Nicole has recently been promoted to Senior PR Executive for WPR’s consumer team, on accounts such as Care UK and Busy Bees, whilst Rachel is working hard for B2B clients including Triton Showers, the agency’s longest running client account, as a PR Executive.

Summer 2020 graduate Georgia Welfair was the next former BCU PR student to join the team, and is now a Graduate Social Media Executive for the consumer team. All three had successfully completed work placements at WPR, something encouraged and supported by the course, and this experience helped catch the attention of WPR when new positions became available.

But the success of BCU’s PR course alumni doesn’t end there. Two more graduates are set to join the consumer teams shortly. Jewel Kattri, who graduated with Georgia, will be a Graduate Social Media Analyst, and Sam Brown, who completed an MA in Public Relations at BCU in 2019, becomes a Graduate PR Executive.

BCU senior lecturer Kelly O’Hanlon commented: “To have not one but five of our graduates working at WPR, at the same time, is something we are incredibly proud of.

“We know our students have a great deal to offer; to see them grow and to nurture their professional development during their time with us is a great privilege and it is fantastic to see that WPR, and other agencies in the region and beyond, recognise their potential.

“I began my own PR career in 2005 at WPR, which makes seeing so many of my graduates go on to do the same all the more meaningful. In our course, we work hard to build our industry connections and to situate learning in a real-world context, and prepare for challenging roles. I can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Nicole said: “BCU not only taught me the theoretical and practical skills needed for a career in PR, it offered a whole host of opportunities to gain real-world experience, develop my skills and open conversations with those already in the industry.

“We were encouraged to get as much work experience as possible. I interned at WPR throughout my second year, and was then offered a full-time position to start once I had finished university. WPR is a fantastic place to begin your career, as you are given the training, support and encouragement needed to make the transition from education, as well as being offered consistent opportunities to grow.”

Rachel agrees: “During my time studying public relations at BCU, my confidence and understanding around different methods of communication grew and grew.

“One of the most beneficial elements was being encouraged to attend placements. This gave me a taste for how teams operated in the PR industry. Building up a network of connections with professionals that you may one day end up working alongside is especially important. I spent time doing work experience at WPR throughout my years at university and I was offered a position with the team in my final year. Now I work with many interesting clients on the WPR B2B team, getting to find out about exciting new campaign launches and important announcements.

“The combination of theory work and skills acquired at university continue to be a real asset to me in the world of PR and I build on these every day.”

PR Course Director Philip Young says: “The success of our students is a source of pride but it also demonstrates the relevancy of our hands-on approach to studying PR, social media and communications.

“To have five graduates employed by such an impressive agency, at the same time, is outstanding and clearly shows how important it is to have close links with industry. It can make all the difference when our graduates enter the world of work.”

WPR is an independently owned agency, and has won more than 100 industry awards since it launched in 1992. With the central belief ‘we are the people who make us’, WPR staff retention rates are 30% higher than the industry average, and client retention rates exceed 90%. It also holds the highest possible rating for outstanding employee engagement from Best Companies, which is recognised as the standard for workplace accreditations. In 2020, WPR was named a Sunday Times Best Small Company to Work For.

Jane Ainsworth, Managing Director at WPR, commented: “Recruiting and retaining brilliantly talented staff makes it possible for us to deliver the exceptional quality of work that our clients deserve. We know that the pandemic has been hard on the under 25s, who are just starting out in their careers, so we are more committed than ever to creating opportunities through our work experience programme, summer internship scheme and ongoing professional development.

“The BCU graduates, who are now valued WPR team members, blend the knowledge, enthusiasm to learn and real-world experience that allows them to contribute from day one. I am sure many more will follow in their footsteps.”

Pictured: Nicole Daybell and Rachel Hickey.

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