PR colleges ill-prepared for new-media explosion

Just seven of the 27 CIPR-approved higher-education PR and comms courses in the UK offer modules dedicated to new media, a poll reveals.

The research, by tech agency Lewis PR, comes as PROs battle to keep abreast of the opportunities that web 2.0 poses for the profession.

Industry forecasts show that marketing spend on ‘social media' is likely to increase by 106 per cent per annum over the next four years.

‘The growth in new media affects every sector of the PR industry - 90 per cent of our clients are coming to us to discuss blogging strategies for their organisations,' said Lewis marketing manager David Cunningham.

Responding to the findings, Patrick Barrow, director-general of the PRCA, said: ‘The fact that new-media modules are not included in some courses is complete madness. If the universities aren't teaching the new generation of PROs, then the agencies have to do it, and that adds to the cost of business.'

Mark Ramsdale, head of education policy at the CIPR, defended the country's academic courses.

‘This survey talks about new-media modules. While not all of these courses offer an entire module on the subject, most, if not all, will offer it as part of a course,' he said.

Leeds Met University runs five of the courses listed in the survey as ‘not including new-media modules'.

Professor of PR Anne Gregory said that rather than being a separate module, new media is a core part of its courses.

‘We cover it in several modules and use new media in our teaching methods - putting lectures online as podcasts, for example. New media has to be a part of everything PROs do rather than a distinct discipline.'

COLLEGES OFFERING NEW-MEDIA MODULES:

Cardiff University - MA in PR; Bournemouth University - BA in PR; Huddersfield University - BA in PR; Sunderland University - BA in PR; UCE Birmingham - Diploma in PR; Queen Margaret University - BA in PR; Southampton Solent University - BA in PR and comms

(Source: Lewis PR)

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