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Why I chose to study Public Relations

Lindelani Moyo joined Birmingham City University's School of Media in 2018 and is currently in her final year studying BA (Hons) Media and Communication (Public Relations). She tells us about her favourite public relation modules, discusses her industry work placement experience and gives advice to students who are preparing for their first year at BCU.

SoM blog post: Why I chose to study PR - Primary Image

What were your expectations before starting your first year at university?

I think I expected it to be very structured and similar to something you'd watch in a cliché American movie, but instead it was very different. There are no cliques and everyone mixes with each other. Everybody that I encountered was extremely friendly. I grew up in a town in Hertfordshire, so I was used to seeing the same faces every day, but it was incredibly refreshing to arrive at university and meet so many new people. I was also a little bit nervous that I wouldn't be able to keep up with my course, as during the break from A Level to university I wasn't that disciplined, but luckily I made friends with a group of people with a similar work ethic to me and slowly but surely I was able to adjust into a routine within the second city.

Why did you choose to specialise in Public Relations?

During my A Levels I took on Media Studies and I really enjoyed the lessons, even the exams. To be honest, I really struggled with what degree course to choose for university as I hadn't been exposed to all of the options that I see are available today. So I chose to do a Media degree but one that focused more on the theory side as that is my strength. However, when I started to explore my media degree options I discovered PR and felt that my interests at the time matched what the course was offering. I felt that I was creative and enjoyed social media as I was currently witnessing the early stages of influencer marketing growing globally. PR was something that I was only aware of at the time due to Instagram, but I only saw the front-end of it with the PR gifting and press packages, not the backend which included: social media content planning, event preparation and PR professionals liaising with the press (which I learnt all about on the course). I felt that I was good at persuading and making people see a topic from another point-of-view. Likewise, my media course and my part-time job had prepared me for working within a team environment, which are some skills you will need to have as a PR pro in the industry.

Where did you do your work placements?

In my first year I did multiple work experiences as I was really into events management at the time. I was able to use a BCU alumni connection to help out at the CLUSE influencer event in central London. This then led me to undertake a five month internship over the summer with a luxury events management company situated in central London, where we planned and managed events all over the UK.

During my second year I did a work placement as a PR intern/Communications Assistant with Big Cat which is a marketing communications agency situated in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, they also have ties with the university. Unfortunately, however, my time there was cut short due to COVID, but I was able to attend a PR launch for a much-loved restaurant in the city centre, complete a social media plan for a well-known shopping centre and engaged in pitching brainstorms with the team for their clients upcoming campaigns. I feel that I got a true PR experience!

Reflecting on your three years on the course, how have you found it?

Honestly, the work at university can be challenging sometimes but if you pick a degree you really enjoy (like I have) then you can tunnel vision through the hard times! The three years flew by so quickly, but because the lecturers work hard on making the modules engaging and relevant to your chosen industry, you get prepared for graduate work and are able to build a portfolio of projects that are relevant and can help you with future job interviews. So overall, I'd say it's been brilliant!

What has been the most fun/interesting project you have worked on?

There has been a lot! I think my second year module 'Creating Compelling Content' was one of my favourite ones as you got full creative control over what you create and could tailor it to clients in sectors of the industry that you would like to work in (which is great to add to your portfolio). I also implemented what I was taught here in the production side of my major project.

When we get assignments like this lecturers treat you like real PR professionals so it's much easier and exciting when you get to professionally present as everyone takes it seriously and you get real feedback from real PR professionals, which will help you when you start working in the real world. I really enjoyed my classes and I'm sure that you will too!

What is the community like in your school?

The community within the School of Media is extremely friendly! Everyone helps each other out. It's also quite diverse and although we may not all have the same specific interests (e.g. TV, radio etc.) we all blend well under our main interest in the media so it works!

Is studying at university much different to college/sixth form? If so/if not, why?

I don't feel that there is much difference. It's really to do with independence and having more freedom. You don't get reminded as much about your assignments unlike how you would be chased by your teachers in college/sixth form, but the lecturers want you to do well, so you do feel that support that you had in college/sixth form. You are also able to explore the areas that interest you the most, unlike college/sixth form as your teachers may need to follow a strict curriculum. College/sixth form is also very repetitive as you follow a weekly schedule. Whereas at university you have a lot more independent study where you have to learn how to manage your time efficiently so that you have balance when it comes to completing your work and being sociable with your friends.

What advice would you give to students who are starting university soon?

This is such an exciting time for you and a new stage of life, but remember that there is no rush. Enjoy your summer and enjoy being with your friends! You will make new ones at university but your schedules may not be as synced as the ones you have with your peers now.

Find out what interests you, if you once had a passion for creating YouTube videos but had to put it on pause to focus on your work get ready to explore that area once you start university because you will have the time!

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