Get paid to learn PR

Alumni from the Taylor Bennett Foundation

In spring 2012 the Taylor Bennett Foundation is running its award-winning PR training programme in association with MHP Communications.

This programme has been designed to address the lack of ethnic minorities in the PR industry. The deadline for applying to the next Taylor Bennett Foundation Programme is Monday 27 February 2012.

Those selected for the programme will get:

  • 10 weeks of paid training
  • £210 per week (you will not be liable to pay tax and NI on your training allowance)
  • All your travel expenses
  • The opportunity to meet industry professionals and visit really interesting organisations (previous field trips have included Channel 4 News, Grazia Magazine, London Fashion Week, P&G, Adidas, Elle Magazine, BP, Save the Children, The Observer, The Financial Times, PR Week, the PRCA, the CIPR, the Home Office, Standard Chartered Bank, Edelman, Unity PR, Fishburn Hedges, Thomson Reuters, ITN, Fremantle Media, Whizz Kidz, The Times and Speed Communications)
  • Top media training from journalists and PR professionals
  • Weekly career advice sessions from the industry’s best headhunters

Previous interns are now in their first jobs in PR at firms which include Topshop, Brunswick, Cantos, Racepoint Group, Talk PR, Chatsworth Communications, Cable & Wireless, Pepsico, Mumsnet and Macbeth Media Relations and others have gone on to gain work experience at Ketchum, The Observer and Save the Children.

There are only eight places available on this prestigious scheme, so make yourself stand out from the crowd.

In order to apply you must:

  • Be aware that this scheme is designed to directly address the greater need for ethnic diversity in the PR and communications industry
  • Be a graduate in ANY degree subject.
  • Have indefinite leave to stay in the UK.  Post study work visas and student visa holders are NOT eligible for this programme.
  • Have an interest in embarking on a career in public relations
  • Have strong writing skills

Some current interns

Whitney Brown is an Events Management and Public Relations graduate from London Metropolitan University. She has since worked in the US but says ‘knowing a trade and being confident at that trade are completely different. Overall doing this internship I want my confidence in writing to grow. Plus I want to learn more about the other writing tools such as communications plans and campaigns.’

Cindy Yau was an avid charity campaigner at university the first time around when at Northumbria University studying BA English and Art History where she loved working in events management, fundraising, and writing about my experiences for Oxfam, Coco, and UNICEF.

Lekha Mohanlal is a Media Studies graduate from Sussex University:

“I adore fashion and have also interned in-house at Lipsy and Brighton Fashion Week. It was my vast interest in fashion PR that encouraged me to apply for the Taylor Bennett Foundation internship sponsored by Talk PR. Receiving training and advice from company experts was the main selling point of the programme for me as it is not offered on many other internships. Although I am a self-confessed fashion freak I want to explore the world of beauty PR as I am a product junkie and have a genuine interest in writing press releases and promoting beauty brands.”

Rebecca Smith is a 22 year-old Roehampton University graduate with a Jamaican and British heritage:

“The process of being successful for the internship programme was tough but fair, and being prepared was key. The assessment day was eye opening and I feel was a reflection of the level of commitment and intenseness required to complete the scheme. “

Candice Allen is a 30 year-old mother of two:

“I believe that with this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games fasts approaching, the legacy of the games will bring opportunities for communications professionals.”

Comments

  1. I’ve met some of the interns on this programme in previous years and they are a real inspiration and credit to what the TBF is trying to achieve. What is most notable however, is the real commitment shown by the partners who seem to give real insight and experiences rather than lip-service or photocopying opportunities. We need more of this genuine support for young practitioners from the PR industry.

  2. So not only do you have to be “ethnic minority” you also don’t even need to study PR! So, despite needing experience to get a PR job, we’ll open PR experience opportunities TO NON PR STUDENTS, but only of those of a certain skin colour. Aye because that make’s sense.

    I applaud the chance for a paid experience, and I realise who it is that is running it, but they don’t do this for all minority groups.

  3. Oh where to start….

    While I applaud the chance of paid experience this sort of thing bugs me. Now I do realise that ethnic minorities should be afforded some help as a means to help them better themselves – but what annoys me here is; I am from Easterhouse in Glasgow. A really deprived area, a housing scheme. Not many of my fellow young Easterhouse residents are in PR, but is anyone running a programme to pay us to get into PR – nope.

    Instead whenever I meet people in PR, I see the look come across their face as they realise I don’t conform to what is mostly a middle class filled job area. I have the accent many of them, at least in Scotland would affirm to a less well educated person and I battle against that daily. Yet here I see that if I was classed as a minority I could get this opportunity.

    This saddens me and it will continue to do so until someone realises that this in itself is unfair…

    Also, I realise this will probably come across as really unclassy and quite racist – but if you add me on twitter you will quickly realise I am nothing of the sort – before the comments pile up.

    Does anyone else think this is unfair?

  4. Kenneth is making a substantial point, here – and I’d welcome a ‘diversity’ specialist to respond.

    In essence, why has ‘diversity’ come to mean race, above all else? Other under-represented groups in PR are men (though gay men, I suspect, are well represented) and those from underprivileged backgrounds.

    Imagine an internship programme that welcomed men and excluded women and you begin to see how charged this topic is.

  5. The Taylor Bennett Foundation programmes are designed to directly address the need for greater ethnic diversity in the communications & PR industry. This need has been identified by several industry bodies and yesterday the PRCA released it’s Access to the Industry report which you can find here: http://www.prca.org.uk/PRCApublishesindependentCommissionsrecommendations

    There are other groups which are also under represented in the industry and identified in the PRCA report, notably people with disabilities and there are further issues for women in particular as they try to return to work after having children but as we are a tiny non-profiit funded by donations we are unfortunately only able to address one area at a time. The PR industry is not the only profession to suffer this lack of access for minority groups, but we are one of the few which is doing something practical to tackle it.

    However, the issue of paid internships is a really important one for all graduates and I am thankful that the industry is starting to address this directly.

    There are now a number of other paid graduate PR internship and placement schemes available which do not seek to address a specific need in the industry.

    The PRCA lists lots of PR agencies which pay at least minimum wage to their interns here: http://www.prca.org.uk/about/intern_campaign

    There is also a list I have collated here, although when I started putting it together I didn’t discriminate between paid and unpaid and I may change that in the near future: http://stimsonsarah.com/2010/09/15/pr-graduate-recruitment-schemes/

  6. Lee Edwards says:

    @Kenneth and Richard (and others who are interested in the debate!): One of the issues that programmes to enhance diversity constantly grapple with is how you actually target people. As I’m sure is obvious, just because you are from a particular ethnic group does not mean that is the only thing that defines you. Identity is multi-faceted – and frequently a focus on ethnicity means that class is automatically part of the picture. While the applicants able to apply to the TBF programme are from particular ethnic groups, these are also groups that are under-represented in the middle-class mileu (and red-brick universities) from which PR takes its graduates.

    So class and race are not separate – like all aspects of identity, they intersect. The difficulty is setting up a scheme to address these aspects of disadvantage in a coherent way. In this case, pinpointing ethnicity as a criteria for applying is a valuable step towards addressing one major area where PR is woefully poor at being representative – but will also have an effect on the classed nature of the profession.

    Perhaps one of the reasons why diversity is associated with ethnicity in particular in PR at the moment is because this is an area where research and practice have both focused, and because there is an industry group, Ignite, specifically focused on improving the cultural diversity of the profession (see http://www.ignitepr.org.uk). However, clearly it’s not the only form of diversity – indeed, the reality is that being ‘diverse’ is inherently about the intersections of different aspects of identity, such as gender, class, ‘race’, sexuality, disability, religious orientation, etc etc. In the research I did a couple of years ago, there was also some evidence of ‘regionalism’ in that (as you point out, Kenneth), people with particular accents felt that they were perceived differently and perhaps stereotyped. How to deal with all these things in one place is a problem that policymakers beyond PR have grappled with for many years and there is no simple answer. However, some agencies are beignning to address the recruitment pipeline to broaden the class mix in their recruits and inform young people about the profession (Edelman and Shine Communciations have both initiated work with schools over the past year, for example) and the PRCA Access Commission report out this week reflects the much broader focus that many practitioners feel is necessary in PR. All this is to be applauded. The more diverse PR is – in all senses of the word – the better, as far as I am concerned!

  7. I realise what the TBF is, but one look at their website and you don’t see one white person. For an organisation looking to embrace diversity, it;s hardly the case.

    Those particular “ethnic minorities” could in actual fact be from priveleged background, skin colour does not dictate financial and social situation.

    Sarah I know all the points you are making, but the minute you start putting people into groups to decide if they warrant help is ridiculous, if you specified as Richard said men. Or if you specified only people from liverpool, or housing schemes/estate.

    It seems to be in fact nothing but a PR expedition, to tick these boxes of diversity, because I am afraid in the 21st century, skin colour isn’t. How many out and out scouse folk have you met in PR – not many but there isn’t any groups for them.

    The very idea that they are affording some an opportunity based on skin colour is racist, I mean Martkin LKuther King said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

    Surely this isn’t judging by character but on skin colour, so by it’s very essence is at odds with this message of diversity.

  8. @Richard and Kenneth How do you think we should tackle the issue of under-represented groups in PR?

  9. If someone isn’t involved they either aren’t interested or don’t know about it. That is if it’s equal. I’d say more using PR to let folk know PR is a viable career, rather than targeting and offering opportunities based on skin colour.

    Raise awareness of schemes like this, but where they are open to all ethnicities and not just a select group as that is nothing more than racism in my view.

    🙂

  10. I must agree with Kenneth here. Yes there is a need for diversity and for people from less privileged backgrounds to join in… but selecting people by their skin colour?
    That is just shocking and such a crude way to go about things.

    To answer your question Bieneosa, there are plenty of things you could do to tackle the issue of under-represented groups. Workshops in under-privileged areas and teaming up with schools/colleges with low numbers of students moving on to professional careers would be a good place to start.

    I seriously think you need to go back to the drawing board on this one. I’ve given you one idea from 30 seconds of thought – if you spend a day brainstorming imagine how many amazing solutions to the problem you will come up with. This system just isn’t cool.

  11. Charlotte Wadsworth says:

    Kenneth – Did you know Hazel Blears has set up a scheme to give working class people the chance to work in Parliament? (‘Speaker’s Parliamentary Placements’ – paid placements). Like PR, a career that sometimes begins with an unpaid internship – giving rich people an obvious advantage. I’ll stick a few links below in case you’d like to know more. Hazel’s scheme is supported by the PRCA. This scheme of course won’t reach everyone who is at a disadvantage of some sort or another – as the Taylor Bennett Foundation one won’t – but in my view any scheme that gives people a leg-up, where previously there’s been a stumbling block, is a good thing. The TBF scheme is not giving people jobs – it’s giving them the experience that some people traditionally get from an unpaid internship. The momentum behind ending unpaid internships will benefit everyone – apart from people who can afford to work for free, of course, who will now have more competition! 😉 Of course these schemes won’t be a catch-all – what about people who have the talent, but not the self-confidence to even apply? – but it’s a start.

    The sooner these schemes aren’t even needed the better – but they’re probably the kick-start that’s needed.

    David – I agree your suggestions are good – but they’ll work best when there are role models who can go back to their school and say – ‘look what job I’m doing – you could do this too’. Hence the benefit of the kick-start.

    http://www.hazelblears.co.uk/news/paid-internships-at-westminster
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15444585
    http://www.prca.org.uk/PRCA_announces_support_for_Speaker's_Parliamentary_Placements_Scheme

    PS Martin Luther King also said “All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.”!

  12. The Taylor Bennett Foundation’s scheme is a positive action scheme. Positive actions schemes are permitted, by law, under the Equality Act 2010 (see section 158).

    Positive action covers a range of measures which organisations can use where those with a “protected characteristic” (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation):

    – experience some sort of disadvantage because of that characteristic;
    – have particular needs linked to that characteristic; or
    – are disproportionately under-represented in a particular activity.

    Where any of these conditions apply, positive action can be taken to overcome that disadvantage, meet that need or encourage participation in that activity. Another example of a positive action scheme is tackling the under-representation of women on boards by providing mentoring to support their career development: http://mentoringfoundation.co.uk/

    In an ideal world, everything would be equal and there would be no need for positive action schemes. However, the fact of the matter is that our industry does not reflect modern Britain.
    Is positive action a silver bullet that will suddenly make the PR industry more diverse? No it’s not. However, I think it can be part of the solution.

    @Kenneth and Dave your ideas to encourage greater diversity in PR are great and are included in the report published by the PRCA’s Access Commission: http://www.prca.org.uk/PRCApublishesindependentCommissionsrecommendations

    The issues around access into the industry and diversity are complex and I would urge you to read the research carried out by Dr Edwards: http://www.esrc.ac.uk/my-esrc/grants/RES-000-22-3143/outputs/Download/e2a26fa8-f155-404f-a92a-dd9308d7ce1b

    As well as the initiatives that you mention (which also happen to be positive action initiatives), there is a job to be done to engage the hearts and minds of those who are responsible for the recruitment of staff. It is a fact, for example, that people tend to hire people who look like them or who are from a similar social background.

    My point is that we need to tackle the issue of under-represented groups on many different levels and, crucially, not in isolation of reviewing the behaviour patterns that exist within our industry. We also need to the time to understand the case for diversity and its impact on the future of our profession.

  13. But Bienosa, the very idea of giving someone an opportunity on skin colour is ridiculous. Yes it’s allowed, by law – but so is many other things that should be frowned upon.

    I think that David’s ideas are indeed much better, but that the TBF should not continue it’s clear racism in the division of people by skin colour for providing opportunities. If they want to embrace diversity, their opportunities should be opened to a diverse group of people.

    @Hazel aye, I did. I lead a campaign against unpaid internships within the Scottish National Party too, and hope to speak on it at the national conference as too many political parties put poor folk at a disadvantage – but I don’t want an opportunity opened to only poor people.

    Equality should mean equality.

  14. Why the arbitrary requirement of a degree? If you’re not requiring a PR related degree, then why the need to base an applicant on that at all? Getting a university place is hardly a filter nowadays, and just because I failed mechanical engineering at university, in my opinion, doesn’t mean I’m any less hungry or any less able to succeed in PR (or the multitude of other industries that just equate a random degree in an unrelated subject to employability) than anyone that passed that or any other subject.

  15. Okay i have felt rather hesitant to comment seeing as i am the minority in which the TB foundation are trying to help out (i am mixed race, half irish/english and jamaican) and am currently a PR student,

    When I first read about this I will be honest and say initially I thought it was a great idea, possibly as I obviously can relate or feel that ‘bond’ (for want of a better word) with it as it is specifically designed for people like myself.

    However now reading your comments I totally understand where you are all coming from, it is being almost hypocritical in the sense that in trying to help under represented minorities it is also segregating itself from many other minorities. So to only let people of colour into the foundation is racist, again I understand that.

    However (contradicting myself again!) there is no getting away from the fact that at the end of the day, ethnic minorities ARE under represented, it is a fact. And the fact that they are simply trying to rectify this is a good thing.

    Yes it is annoying that they have only chosen one group of people to try and improve, but that’s who they have chosen to target. They had to create some form of criteria or it just wouldn’t work?

    If they were to branch out to all minorities, then well they could go on forever.

    I believe they have good intentions as the fact that PR is a predominantly ‘white’ industry is something that is obvious, they’ve picked up on this and are aiming to change it, other organisations can chose other ‘minorities’ and chose to create a scheme for them?

    I am trying to think about this from a completely un-biased perspective and believe that even if i wasn’t mixed race that I would still feel the same. Yes it is unfair to other minorities, but surely if you are from a different minority you can empathise with the fact that others deserve to be well represented too. Perhaps in the future something like this will be available for all minorities, but for now, i think it’s a good start.

  16. @Jazz, I see what you mean – and it is great they want to introduce a multitude of different groups into PR. However it seems like they assume people chose careers based on skin colour and that skin colour is a barrier for people getting involved in PR. To say that is to say that all recruitment folk in PR are somehow inherently racist.

    I like to think perhaps there is just a lack of people interested in PR and that their skin colour is a coincidence. If they want to introduce a diverse group into PR however, they must be diverse themselves in setting out to do it – targeting all young people in an age range who have qualifications or interests that might mean they could see PR as a possible career route is much better.

    As David say’s it would be much better to go back to the drawing board, brainstorm about this and then introduce an idea that actually embraced diversity

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