Leading fashion PR agency Modus Publicity targeted in BBC expose

BBC documentary forces Modus Publicity director to rethink use of unpaid interns.

Catwalk comms: Fashion PR firm Modus targeted         [Pic: Getty]
Catwalk comms: Fashion PR firm Modus targeted [Pic: Getty]

A top fashion PR boss has agreed to review his agency's use of interns following a grilling on prime time TV last night.

Modus Publicity director Julian Vogel inadvertently played a starring role in a BBC documentary on social class, when he was skewered by reporter Richard Bilton.

The journalist trained his fire on Vogel, accusing Modus of employing 20 staff working as unpaid interns.

Speaking as the programme was due to be aired, a frustrated Vogel insisted that his agency was not alone in using numerous interns.

'I feel I've been stuffed by the BBC,' Vogel told PRWeek, saying he believed he was being asked to give a snapshot of the industry to help young people planning a career in fashion PR. But he added: 'We are looking at our internship policy. Do we have fewer interns and pay them more? That's something we're looking at.'

Vogel defended his use of interns (see box). But opponents of the practice argue that, far from opening up career opportunities, unpaid internships restricted access to those able to afford to do such unpaid work.

A PRWeek investigation in autumn last year found that the practice was far from unique.

PRCA chief Francis Ingham said: 'The issue with internships in the industry is a difficult one to talk about sensibly. In an ideal world everyone would be paid at least the minimum wage but I recognise that doesn't happen and it's some way off from happening.'

The CIPR charter states only students placed with an employer as part of their course or those doing voluntary work for a registered charity are exempt from the need to pay, but industry sources acknowledged many agencies ignore this.



'We invest a lot in interns' training and they usually either get a job here or get snapped up because they have Modus on their CV.'

'Some tasks are quite mundane but in an environment where they're constantly learning.'

'We've given the start to so many people in the industry. So many say they wouldn't be where they are without that initial training.'


See editor Danny Rogers' opinion on unpaid interns

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