Platform: Why some PR wannabes haven’t a hope - Despite more opportunities being available for young people to study PR, basic standards continue to slip, says Alastair Gornall

I am passionate about my job in PR and can totally understand why a career in our industry is seen by many young people to be their ultimate goal.

I am passionate about my job in PR and can totally understand why a

career in our industry is seen by many young people to be their ultimate


I am also delighted that these young people have many more opportunities

to study for both BA and MA degrees in public relations - which should

be of immense benefit to everyone in our industry as well as continuing

to improve our professional standards and knowledge.

As we all know, the PR industry is all about personal communication,

attention to detail, intuition, research, good thinking, creativity and

so on. Many people looking for jobs apply these skills to their job

hunting process and achieve excellent results. I will always pay far

more attention to an application that catches my eye and has had some

thought applied to it.

However, I am totally appalled by some of the dreadful job applications

that I receive from students who are just about to graduate with degrees

in public relations.

A few weeks ago, I received a letter from a PR undergraduate at Leeds

Metropolitan University which has to be the worst example of bad

practice that I have ever seen in our industry. It was a photocopied

letter on appalling paper stock. There was no salutation, no signature

and the quality of the photocopy was so poor that the applicant had gone

over some of the letters in a different coloured pen to make sure I

could read it.

Having spent three years studying PR, what has this university taught

this young lady? Doesn’t she understand the importance of presentation,

content and research? If this is the best they can do, they should all

give up and go home.

Sadly this is not an isolated case and every week I receive a mixed bag

of applications - although many are absolutely excellent. However, there

are still far too many people sending out letters that are riddled with

mistakes. I would urge every undergraduate looking to get a job in any

industry to find out as much as they can about how to make the best

approach and stand out from the rest of the pack (in a positive


They must do their homework. I have a name - find it out. We have

interesting blue chip clients - tell me how you could help them. Show me

a bit of creativity and understanding of our industry. Purchase a PRCA

handbook - it has all our details in it and is a small investment that

could help you get started on a good career.

When I receive dreadful applications, I sometimes send them back to the

sender with some frank comments on what they are doing wrong. In most

instances, I never hear from them again but I hope that I am doing them

a favour by stopping them from making such stupid mistakes in the


Finally, my message to the business schools that are breeding our future

practitioners is please teach your students about the value of

presentation and demonstrate to them how they should go about getting a

job before the very substance and value of their course is questioned by

their future employers.

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