Ten top tips for your PR degree

This is an article by Arianne Williams.
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Arianne Williams

Arianne Williams

Results day is now just a distant memory and your plans are set for where to go next – it can be a daunting place to be and I know the feeling well.

Starting any degree can be scary, but if you are entering the world of PR I’m sure hundreds of questions have crossed your mind.

What really is PR? What will my assessments be like? How can I make sure I do well?

It’s an exciting and interesting subject to study, with a wealth of career prospects, and hopefully with these tips you will excel in your degree.

  1. Keep detailed notes

It might sound like an obvious one, but make sure you keep organised notes for all your lectures. There is often overlap between modules over the three years of your course, so make it easier for yourself further down the line. Keep everything dated, titled and organised. You’ll later be able to pull up the notes on the subject you need with ease.

  1. Follow news and trends within the sector

Keeping up-to-date with current affairs, PR news and new trends will only benefit your knowledge of PR and complement your studies. You will have examples to use in assignments as well as a wider knowledge when you graduate and move into a career.

  1. Get some experience

Wherever you can and whenever you can, get some experience. It is essential that you put the skills learnt in university into practice and the best way to do this is placement or work experience. Even a one day taster will make a difference to your industry knowledge.

  1. Make contacts

Keep a record of your contacts that you meet during your studies and experience. I’ve found that connecting with people on LinkedIn is a great way to keep a virtual contact book. You never know when you might need them (or they might need you!) in the future.

  1. Join the CIPR

CIPR LogoSome courses will offer free membership – if so, use it! If not, it’s well worth the small fee to become a member. You gain access to a wealth of resources, discount on events, news updates and much more. You can also check out the PRCA for news, research documents, training etc. These are both useful for university assignments and for your PR knowledge in general – and vital for networking.

  1. Build up a portfolio

Keep a record as you go along of your best pieces of university work, examples of placement tasks and any extra-curricular activities you take part in. This will make it easier when you pull together a portfolio at graduation. It will also allow you to see what you need to improve on and give you time to add this in.

  1. Create a personal brand

PR is all about reputation and it’s not just the reputation of clients you have to think about. You need to make sure that you have a good reputation too by creating a positive social media presence, networking and making your name known.

  1. Take part in extra-curricular activities

Even activities that aren’t necessarily PR related will make look fantastic on your CV. Anything you do outside your studies – volunteering, attending events, a part-time job – it all helps. If they are PR related, like the Britain’s best PR student blog or the CIPR Douglas Smith student award, then that’s a bonus!

  1. Look at ‘real-life’ examples

Writing a press release for an assessment? Look at real ones online for tips. Starting a blog for your social media module? Read relevant blogs online. Looking at content similar to that you are creating, and that is live, will make your assessment pieces as ‘real’ as possible.

  1. Read!

PR booksSo this is probably a key tip for all degrees, but the more PR related work you read the better.

Get ahead on your textbooks, read news articles, look for journals and you will be one step ahead of everyone. Social media is great for finding articles and blogs that are helpful too.

Studying PR is a test of your communication, creativity and organisation. With the variety of tasks you are required to do, the vast range of clients that you might be working with and an ever changing industry to welcome you, it is a rewarding and interesting subject to study. And I hope with these tips your path to becoming a PR practitioner will be that little bit easier!

Arianne Williams is studying PR with French at Sunderland University. She is a winner of the CIPR International Douglas Smith Award and blogs at PR Professional in Training.


  1. Useful advice – I’d add two more:

    1. Learn to reference accurately from the start of your studies and Harvard (or whatever system is required) will become second nature.

    2. Talk with your lecturers and tutors. We are here to help and it is surprising how few students actually talk with us, volunteer for projects, ask questions and generally become well known to us. Not only does this enhance the learning experience, but means we remember you when other opportunities come up.

  2. I agree, Heather.

    Some students view their lecturers are ‘the other’ – the people who set challenging assignments and sometimes give negative feedback.

    A more constructive view is to see lecturers as partners in a journey of learning and professional development.

    I’m happy to write LinkedIn recommendations if the student meets two criteria: do I remember them, and do I have something positive to say about them.

    An important part of being a public relations student is learning to do your own PR.

  3. Glad you think that it is useful advice.

    And I’d most definitely agree, I’ve always asked any questions I can think of and say yes to as many opportunities as I can! Hope this will bode well for the future.

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