I was slightly daunted about the prospect of studying Public Affairs – not only is it outside of my specialism (Internal Comms), it can also have some pretty dire consequences if it’s done badly! However, as part of the wider PG Cert in Corporate Communications accredited by the University of Chester, I’m pleased to say that the reality was not so scary. My eyes were opened to an interesting and very important communications discipline.
During the four-month module I learnt all sorts from the basics of defining public affairs, through the key players in the UK political spectrum, to putting together a proactive and multi-faceted public affairs strategy based on the current context of my organisation. It was that focus on my own organisation that added a relevance to the theory, and an understanding of how it can relate in different circumstances. And it was also interesting to consider the scenarios my fellow students faced, having to put what we were learning into practice in very different environments.
So why should you study Public Affairs? Because learning how your organisation can more effectively manage and influence issues, the future landscape and even its own brand gives you a greater understanding of its operating context and what can impact on its success. And no matter what your communications specialism or experience in Public Affairs, that can only be a good thing in making you more effective within your own role.
The University of Chester comprises three modules: public affairs, social and digital media management and communication leadership. Each module can also be studied as a stand alone course. PR Academy also delivers the CIPR Specialist Diploma in Public Affairs.
I have really enjoyed doing the CIPR Professional Diploma at the PR Academy this year. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience and one that I would highly recommend to PR practitioners looking to grow and take the next step in their career.
Having previously completed the Advanced Certificate in Public Relations,* I had a good background coming into the course but I was a little sceptical – I was hoping for a sharper focus on practical skills rather than communication theory. Immediately, it was clear that this was the objective of the revised course and it worked really well. I felt the assignments had practical value and I could use them to focus on an issue relating to my work and share with my employers. I much preferred the onus being on applying theory to support a real life, live PR issue than just discussing theory on its own. This has been a distinct and welcome shift in direction.
I have always enjoyed the discussions the classes throw up and hearing the views of practitioners working across industries and professions. That to me has always been one of the best things about the face-to-face courses. A special note of thanks must go to our course leader Chris Tucker whose presentation style was engaging and enthusiastic. She was excellent in facilitating discussions in a way that aided our learning, stayed focused on the topic, related to current affairs and provided plenty of helpful anecdotes from her own experience!
The course has really helped to shape my thinking in a much more strategic way looking at the overall picture and understanding why we undertake particular PR campaigns and activities and be able to challenge the business about its communication goals, as well as providing recommendations. With the increased knowledge and confidence gained from the course I have also been able to secure a new job recently too.
*The CIPR Advanced Certificate is now the Professional PR Certificate following a relaunch with a revised syllabus and assignments in July 2017.
"Without a shadow of doubt, studying with PR Academy is the best career decision I have made - it gave me the fundamentals early in my career, and later helped underpin more strategic practice with a good working knowledge of PR theory.
The highlights for me were the teaching, which is extremely high quality, and well-structured networking with other practitioners who were facing the same challenges in different contexts. I cannot recommend the team highly enough. Sign up!"
“Studying for the CIPR Diploma with PR Academy was a real inspiration – a fantastic course.
Shortly after I started the course, I had to contend with changes at my business which meant I was working really long hours, but the PR Academy team were brilliant, helping me to plan my work and get through it and giving sound advice about the assignments.
I have a teaching qualification myself and the team exemplified everything I learned about excellence in education. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending the CIPR qualifications and PR Academy.”
Read Hilary's blog on how she has gone on to study for a Master's.
I joined the CIPR when the Channel Islands branch set up at the end of 2008 and was then part of the first cohort of Channel Islanders that signed up to study the CIPR Diploma with the PR Academy in 2010/11.
The Diploma gives practitioners an excellent grounding in PR theory, and I certainly benefited from it as it helps to bring structure to a lot of projects in the work place.
Having successfully completed the Diploma I immediately signed up to the CIPR CPD programme with a view to upgrading to Accredited Practitioner which I duly did, and since then have continued on a path of professional development as I believe that it enriches me, keeps me abreast with new topics and ways of communicating with different publics, as well as preparing me for challenges that face the industry.
The next logical step on this pathway was to get Chartered, and I achieved this earlier in the summer following an Assessment day at CIPR headquarters in London.
I fully support continual professional development, believe that everybody practising in the industry should be a member of the CIPR, and should in turn strive to raise standards and at the same time raise the profile of the institute. The future of the industry is in our hands, and the Diploma is a perfect spring board for practitioners to move forwards and upwards.
I chose to study for the CIPR Advanced Certificate in Public Relations after completing a contractor role at a leading energy company, where I was able to work with a number of in-house communications teams and the company’s PR agency partners. I was looking to underpin my recent experience with some respected qualifications and ensure I was better prepared for my next role.
I can highly recommend the course as it covers the key facets of the public relations industry, including – the historical background, evolving communications theories, ethics, PR measurement, and the various disciplines within communications. If you’re looking to take your career to the next level and demonstrate a solid understanding of your chosen profession, this is definitely worth the investment. PR Academy will ensure you are well supported, receive first rate teaching, and can learn in a stimulating environment.
Our students do some great work and some turn it into a blog.
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By Nastun Mir, CIPR Public Affairs Diploma graduate