You’re hired: Life as a PR apprentice

This is an article by Luke Taylor.
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Apprentices Daniel Bailey and Luke Taylor (centre) working with Andy Black at Whiteoaks

As a school leaver, it was a daunting task choosing to leave full time education and enter the world of work.

Yet, I found that there was an apprenticeship out there which could help new starters like me to continue to learn while holding down a full time PR role.

I joined Whiteoaks as it is running the very first PR apprentice scheme in partnership with the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA).

I jumped at the chance to work at one of the first 48 companies in the PR industry to support the 12 month scheme as the apprenticeship allows young people like me to gain an Edexcel BTEC Level 4 Diploma in PR at the same timing as working in the industry.

With only a few weeks of being a digital apprentice under my belt, I am already facing a range of challenges. On a daily basis, I am helping to ensure that the right online content is published to portray the desired client image.

It can be hard to get to grips with the requirements for a wide range of online platforms used, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, but I am learning every day.

The challenge is to be creative, whether posting a tweet for a major telecommunication firm or producing a blog for a IT service provider. There is a need to use newsworthy content and methods to get key messages across to the target audience.

Gaining first-hand industry experience is a great way to learn about PR. However, it is tough to balance coursework and ensure that business targets are met at the same time.

One thing I have already learnt is you have to be organised. Deadlines need to be stuck to, whether it’s publishing content for a client or handing in coursework. In fact, I will need to do quite a bit of work outside of both learning and working hours to ensure that I am up-to-date and not falling behind.

Working within the fast-paced technology PR sector, with companies that are constantly developing new technologies, every day is different. It means that I need to be continually widening my knowledge of products, services and industry news. This also goes for the different digital tools that I am using. Digital media is constantly evolving, whether it is a new website being developed or current social media platforms such as Twitter updating and improving services. The challenge is to stay on top of all these processes, with the help and support of my colleagues and teachers.

Along with the many challenges of taking part in the digital apprentice scheme, there are also a number of opportunities. It is exciting to know that as a digital apprentice your work is seen by a number of people right across the world.

By gaining industry experience and combining it with a qualification, it gives me – and all those taking part in an apprenticeship – the opportunity to extend learning both in and out of the classroom.

I didn’t expect the digital apprenticeship to be easy and so far it hasn’t been. But for every challenge I have come across, I have learnt about new industry practices and ways in which I can improve my skills. Learning the fundamentals of PR and gaining an industry recognised award is the perfect door opener into a highly competitive business.

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