Building relationships with key industry players as an undergraduate is the foundation to a promising career, and in the case of Birmingham School of Media's PR students, this is particularly true when reflecting upon the successful working relationship between the BA (Hons) PR and Media course and award-winning PR agency spottydog communications.
Demonstrating its commitment to finding and developing new talent, spottydog communications has long been an industry supporter of the PR provision at BCU. With a mission of creating best of breed communications, delivered by pedigree people, the agency actually has five graduates from BCU backgrounds in its award-winning pack including a Graphic Designer from the School of Visual Communication and a Digital Marketing Executive from the School of Games, Film and Animation. Regularly contributing to live briefs, running guest talks, attending student conferences and offering insights into their work, spottydog has worked closely with the PR course team over the past five years.
Maddy McCrann-Smith graduated in July 2018, as a PR specialist on the BA (Hons) Media and Communications course - now run as BA (Hons) Public Relations and Media. During her final year project, Maddy helped launch the Birmingham based social change campaign, Permission To Smile, entered and won the BHive 2017 creative industries competition and following a successful work placement, landed herself a full time position at spottydog. Continuing to demonstrate her passion for learning and development, Maddy is now a CIPR Accredited Practitioner and has climbed the ranks to become a PR, Communications & Social Media Consultant, working on both B2C and B2B client accounts.
Maddy comments: "I started working at spottydog after the summer of my second year at BCU. We were always encouraged to take part in work experience, with the ability to work while studying for my final year at university, which hugely helped broaden my knowledge practical experience."
"The skills I learned at BCU gave me great confidence, and studying a practical course meant I was ready to start work straight away."
Karlie France, who followed the same path as Maddy, joined the team upon completing her studies at BCU Media. In fact, Karlie, in collaboration with another student, took up the Permission To Smile PR campaign mantel in her final year of study, before joining the agency in August 2020, so the pair have much in common.
Karlie says: "Having a broad and practical course meant that I was already somewhat prepared for what the different parts of working in a dynamic workplace environment involved. spottydog were already top of my employer list through its support on my course and so when the opportunity arose for a job there, I was eager to apply and extend my skillset in the vibrant and fast developing agency."
Karlie wasn't the only BCU PR student to find a job at spottydog, even amidst the pandemic, with Esme Wilson securing her place in December 2020, completing the hat-trick of PR students currently employed by the company. Both are PR, Social Media and Communications Executives and thoroughly enjoying their roles in such a creative team.
Reflecting on her first few months at the agency, Esme comments: "Joining the pack has been a great experience and I've already had the opportunity to get stuck into work for a variety of different clients. I've learnt a lot in agency so far and the team have been amazing at helping me develop in my role and understand the world of PR further."
Recognised as one of the top five SMEs in the country for graduate employment, Founder and CEO Rachel Roberts, leads the pawsome pack at spottydog communications and has been a keen supporter of the PR and Media course. "Everything we do at spottydog is centred around our people. I am driven by a passion to create a place for talented people, who want to deliver best of breed work, and our success attracting talent from BCU School of Media is testament to the emphasis the lecturers there put upon collaboration and experience with professional partners outside of the university lecture halls.
"It's one of our values to have an inquisitive mind and an adventurous spirit, and going the extra mile to seek out opportunities, build relationships and nurture your own career and professional development are characteristics that will make exceptional practitioners of the future."
Kelly O'Hanlon, Senior Lecturer in PR, says: "Nurturing professional links is what we do at BCU School of Media, and we situate our PR and Media course in the real world, with news reviews, debates, case studies and live projects. Rachel has always been willing to help us illustrate industry practice during our modules and has supplied example client briefs for students to work to in their assessments."
Philip Young, Course Director, adds: "The time Rachel and her agency has given to students, through talks and even by opening their doors for student visits, is much appreciated and adds value to our course and student experience. The fact that Rachel is also President Elect 2022 for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, our leading professional body, adds even more weight, and we are proud to have course recognition by the CIPR as well as such influential practitioner support."
Are you interested in getting to know more about spottydog communications? The agency is holding another Virtual Open House event which will give PR students the chance to sniff around spottydog HQ, meet their team and hear all about what a typical day is like working in a busy PR agency. Sign up here to attend!