Weber Shandwick UK teams up with Media Trust for internship scheme to promote diversity

Weber Shandwick has partnered with Media Trust, the UK-based communications charity, to create a new paid internship programme aimed at bringing more diverse talent into the PR industry.

The programme will seek to recruit three or four young people from a broad range of backgrounds into Weber Shandwick each year. Initially, the programme will focus on engaging less advantaged young people in the London area.

During the internship, each candidate will spend one month in each of four specialist practices to gain experience across several different PR and communications disciplines, including digital and social media.

Colin Byrne, Weber Shandwick CEO, UK & EMEA, said: "We are deeply committed to championing diversity in our industry and to our long-running association with the great work of Media Trust. Along with our new partnership with The Taylor Bennett Foundation to encourage ethnic minorities to pursue a career in communications, this new intern programme is a practical step which I hope other PR firms will follow."

Caroline Diehl, CEO and founder of the Media Trust, said: "Media Trust is delighted to be a partner in this powerful initiative. Strengthening diversity across the UK's media and creative industries is vital for our communities, as well as bringing innovation and new talent into the sector."

It follows a pilot scheme that saw a participant from Media Trust’s 2015 Transforming Hidden Talent programme, Qadar Arif, secure a full-time role at Weber Shandwick's London-based corporate communications practice.

Arif said: "After I finished university it was very difficult to find a stable position in communications, but this internship programme gave me an opportunity that I didn’t think was possible."

The issue of internships has risen in prominence in the industry in recent times, with the programmes seen as important for promoting diversity in the sector. Click to read PRWeek's feature from January on the challenges of diversity in PR.

Last month, Weber sister agency Golin pledged to house new interns rent-free in London for their first month, and offer an interest-free loan for a deposit and first month's rent in the capital, under its 'Golin B&B' scheme.

Writing for PRWeek, Clarity PR CEO Sami McCabe recently described unpaid internships as a "shameful stain on a PR industry".

Last autumn, PRCA director general Francis Ingham threatened to report charity Oasis UK to the Charity Commission and Cabinet Office for advertising unpaid comms and policy intern positions.

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