Hill+Knowlton Strategies joins PRCA intern campaign

Hill+Knowlton Strategies is the latest agency to sign up to the PRCA's campaign to end unpaid internships.

Underpaid: Only 28 per cent of interns surveyed received the minimum wage
Underpaid: Only 28 per cent of interns surveyed received the minimum wage

The UK's seventh largest agency signed up to the PRCA's list of members promising to pay all of their interns at least the national minimum wage, following PRWeek's revelations that only a quarter of comms interns were paid this rate.

An H+K spokeswoman said: 'At H+K Strategies, we offer budding PRs the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of working in a thriving PR agency. Our interns are involved in supporting the team on a broad range of activities across all aspects of client account work. We value the contribution that they make to our business and therefore believe that appropriate financial rewards is important.'

The news comes as a number of former interns have spoken to PRWeek about their experiences of interning at PR agencies.

One, who asked to remain anonymous, said that during the six weeks of interning at a London-based fashion and lifestyle agency she was paid only expenses of £6 per day, despite having to take a train from outside London which cost £17 every day.

She worked in a shop for nine months prior to the internship in order to be able to support herself.

She said: ‘If I couldn’t live at home, it would be impossible. In that aspect, I find that internships do not encourage diversity. If you don’t live in the surrounding areas of London and don’t have financial support then it would simply be impossible.’

She complained that while at the agency she was given jobs such as vacuuming the office and booking the boss’ haircut. ‘While there I don’t think I learnt a single transferable skill,’ she said.

Another young PRO said that she was interviewed for an internship as assistant to the director, with a view to being handed an account executive position. After numerous interviews and tests she was offered the role, and then discovered that it was an unpaid internship, without even travel expenses being covered.

‘I asked if a probation period could be set out and regular reviews, but was told that it was an "indefinite" unpaid internship and they would "see how it went".’

However, David Talbot praised his internship at Insight Public Affairs, stating that he was paid £1,200 per month during his three month internship – one of the ‘few and far between agencies’ that do so, he added.

Talbot said: ‘National minimum wage should be standard across the board for graduates entering the job market as interns. That it isn’t at the moment really is a scandal.’

Talbot moved on to a job at Political Developments where he has worked for 18 months.

He added: ‘Whilst I would say that all of the experience I gained did aid me, and certainly advanced my experience, skill set and contacts, it was not a prerequisite. I have a much stronger CV than some of the other graduates I work with, but like them I entered the company as an account executive.’

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