The drive, which is backed by the Taylor Bennett Foundation and pressure group Intern Aware, is in reaction to the industry’s failure to become truly inclusive of people of all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
The PRWeek/PRCA Census 2013 showed that 91 per cent of people in the industry are white, only a fractional change from 92 per cent in 2011.
PR Internships For All launches with commitments from six of the UK’s top PR agencies to offer paid internships to students from universities outside the Russell Group within the next 12 months.
GolinHarris, Freuds, Edelman, MHP, Weber Shandwick and Bell Pottinger will be hiring as many as ten interns each, on at least the National Minimum Wage, for at least a month per intern.
Participating agencies will be entered into a new bespoke awards programme to recognize their commitment and will benefit from ongoing coverage throughout the campaign.
PRWeek brand editor Ruth Wyatt said: "Bemoaning the state of the profession is not going to achieve much. We hope that putting concrete and achievable objectives in place will. The biggest and most successful agencies must lead the charge to change."
PRCA director general Francis Ingham said: "A PR industry that fails to reflect the nation with which it is communicating faces extinction. We need to do something now to protect our future."
Agencies are being offered assistance from the Taylor Bennett Foundation. They will be able to hire trainees from the foundation's PR trainee programme as interns.
The foundation's director Anne Groves said: "Agencies we work with tell us they gain enormously from widening the diversity of young people involved in their business, as they introduce new talent and new perspectives."
Agenices taking part in the initiative are asked to:
- hire a set number of paid interns from universities outside the Russell Group over the next 12 months
- hire a minimum of three interns for agencies with fewer than 100 employees
- hire a minimum of five interns for agenices with between 100 and 200 employees
- hire a minimum of ten interns for agencies with more than 200 employees
- hire all interns for at least a month
- pay all interns at least the National Minimum Wage
The launch of PR Internships For All has been welcomed by Intern Aware, a pressure group which has highlighted the exploitation of interns by business, including the PR industry.
Intern Aware campaigns manager Chris Hares said: "We are delighted these positions will be accessible to a wide pool of talent from a diverse range of backgrounds and not just those who can afford to work for free."
Agencies interested in signing up or finding out more about the scheme should contact PRCA communications director Matt Cartmell on 020 7233 6026 or firstname.lastname@example.org.