Thursday November 10, 2016
Have you got your Diploma and are wondering what to do next? This is the path that the inspirational Hilary Berg has taken…… Over to you Hilary:
Hilary Berg, PR Diploma graduate and about to complete her Masters.
“This has been a great week. On top of starting an exciting new client project, I ran a round table on values-driven leadership with social care charity PSS (where I am a Trustee) and finished a review of the Fresh campaign, an award-winning initiative by young people using mental health services. And driving between meetings I was thinking about power dynamics… yes, you heard it. Power dynamics.
I am an independent consultant and focus on work that brings about positive social change. Part of my success nowadays comes from my experience, but I am also a founding Chartered Practitioner and will soon complete a Masters in PR and Communication at the University of Chester. I believe it’s this combination of practical experience and wider insight that keeps opening up new professional opportunities.
This wasn’t always the case. Like many colleagues, I cut my teeth in the agency world where we learned new things every day; having to get our heads quickly around new sectors, products and issues; but most of all learning from the high performers around us. Despite being a long-term CIPR member I had little time for formal learning.
However, it seems to me that PR people have some common traits. And one of those is being insatiably curious about the world. Back in 2008 I realised I was working increasingly with clients who were highly qualified in their fields – and there was an opportunity to move the conversation up, to talk more about ideas and concepts, and best practice. There was also an opportunity to build my own expertise and credibility, so I signed up with the PR Academy for their online Diploma.
I never looked back. From the first week I was hooked, soaking up knowledge – from learning how Edward Bernays used the women’s liberation movement to flog cigarettes to women in the 1920s, to discovering an international theory of excellence for communications. The Diploma was a springboard for me becoming chartered and going on to study for a digital qualification. Soon after I got to work in New York, and know that my professional confidence was higher as a result.
The best outcome was that it left me eager to question and learn. So when I heard about a unique (and affordable) way to study for a Masters with the University of Chester, I met the course leader, Professor Danny Moss, to find out more. A great incentive was the accelerated entry on offer, as my Diploma gave me 60 of the 180 credits required.
The university is an internationally-recognised leader in work-based learning and the course is designed to complement and support students’ professional lives. With 12 day’s attendance time over two years, it is designed on a flexible, modular basis; allowing participants to gain credits over time. The Master’s degree award title is negotiated around each individual’s field and context of work; for instance mine is ‘Communications and PR for Social Change’.
I am just about to start my final module, which has real potential to grow my business- and I can’t wait. So far the experience has been really positive. As well as guidance from Danny, my personal tutor Dave Perrin is always available with invaluable support and guidance. The specialist lecturers are brilliant. I have learnt a huge amount from Tony Wall on research techniques, and have been privileged to work with New Zealand-based expert Tim Roberts on his ‘Persuasion, Influence and Counter-Manipulation’ module, which led me to think in several new directions. All of them have been consistently supportive, friendly and approachable, with a real impression that not only do they want students to do great work, but they are 100 percent there to help them succeed.
And so to power dynamics. In my work with young mental health patients, I have been looking at why one group has been so successful in influencing change. My latest assignment took me all the way from Marx and Foucault to the Buddhist scholar Thich Nhat Hanh, and others who believe real power comes from a personal focus on factors like concentration and insight. Hence my car journey reflections.
In my experience, formal learning, when it is applied to practical work is truly empowering. It has opened my eyes to the world, sowed the seeds of new ideas and given me confidence in my abilities. Who knows? I’ve enjoyed it so much might even follow the example of PR Academy’s Dr Kevin Ruck and go for a PhD!”
We think Dr Berg has a nice ring to it Hilary!
Get that Masters – its closer than you think!
With the CIPR PR Diploma or the University of Chester Post Grad Certificate in Corporate Communication you are already a third of the way to a Masters.
Either of these two qualifications gives you 60 credits towards the 180 credits for a Masters. This is how you can achieve the remaining credits:
- A self-review module (20 credits): mapping against your own relevant work experience and qualifications.
- Accredited prior learning module (20 credits): earn credits for relevant experience, training or qualifications that you already have. This could include another CIPR diploma level qualification, for example in internal communication, crisis communication or public affairs.
- Research Methods module (20 credits): helps you plan the methods for your major work- based project.
- Work based project: gain your final 60 credits carrying out an extended work-based consultancy or in house project.