The search starts for young content creators

#prstudent #bestPRblogs resumes next month

About the author

Richard Bailey Hon FCIPR is editor of PR Academy's PR Place Insights. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students.

It’s easy to be pessimistic about the prospects of today’s university students.

Their horizons have shrunk because of the Covid restrictions and their opportunities to find work have been reduced by the restrictions on travel and hospitality and by increased competition for graduate jobs. Many are at university but unable to benefit from the full university experience.

They are a generation of students who have been told repeatedly that grades matter, so they understandably aspire to gain First Class degrees. Only to find that around a third of them achieve top grades, leaving employers sceptical about degree classifications as a means of identifying talent.

It’s easy to be pessimistic, so let’s consider instead the reasons to be optimistic.

With few exceptions, today’s students were born after Google. They can scarcely remember a time before smartphones and social media. This has led to profound behaviour change – and not all of it should be viewed negatively. 

Opportunities abound for creative expression and entrepreneurship. This makes young people simultaneously very young – and very self-contained and grown up.

That’s the context for our #bestPRblogs contest celebrating communication and creativity among UK-based public relations students.

Our starting point is blogging because that’s where individuals can fully express their interests and develop their personal brands. But having your own blog is not a requirement. Some prefer to use existing platforms such as LinkedIn or Medium or course blogs to contribute to an existing community by sharing content and conversations.

Writing is still a core requirement for public relations, but visual communications is growing in importance so we hope to showcase examples from YouTube, Instagram and TikTok too.

Some universities require students to blog for assessment purposes. Some individuals participate because they discover a passion project and they can see the potential to use their content to make industry connections and to build their personal brands.

Ours is a competition with few rules and restrictions. We include students of any nationality as long as they’re currently studying in the UK. We include students on BA and MA courses. They don’t even have to be enrolled onto public relations degree courses as long as they are willing to be identified as a #prstudent.

In the past this has included journalism students who have realised that they’re more likely to find work in public relations or content marketing; or marketing students who revel in creative communication; or English students looking for a vocational outcome to their course.

We favour content about public relations over lifestyle content as that’s unapologetically our focus at PR Place Insights, but will include distinctive lifestyle content ahead of another dutiful essay on public relations. 

Each week, we look to include a selection of #prstudent content within our weekly #ThisWeekinPR round-up. As such, we’re looking for quality content that can stand up to professional scrutiny. Indeed, our intention is to showcase emerging student talent among practitioners who may be able to offer advice and connections – and even work or work placement opportunities.

Towards the end of the academic year, we shortlist those individuals who have appeared most often before naming our choice of Best PR Student Blogger 2021. We also name the universities that have featured most often across the year.

Our 2020 winner is Niamh Murray who studied at the #bestPRblogs top-ranked Ulster University. She explains in her distinctive voice why she chose to build a personal blog:

‘I started blogging because I took a notion, really. I have a lot of thoughts about things and I’m a very chatty person, so having a blog let me have a voice and say what I wanted to say, but in a more creative and productive way.

‘As a student, having a blog was great for building an e-portfolio, and truth be told, that’s why I started. I wanted to have a wee collection of my writing so that potential employers could see what I was like and what I could do, rather than just looking at my CV and embarrassing Facebook photos from 2012.

‘Sharing my posts on LinkedIn allowed me to direct people to my blog, instead of just having it floating about on the internet. I promoted my blogs on LinkedIn rather than other social media, because my friends and other students aren’t exactly the audience I was trying to reach; professionals and potential employers were.’

I’m so glad I started blogging and I would strongly recommend it to other students. You can write about whatever you want and it really lets you find your voice, harness some creativity and get experience with writing to see if you like it or not. Blogging is one of those gems which helps with personal and professional development; it benefits you and it doesn’t hurt the CV, either.

Niamh Murray

The UK's Best PR Student Blogger 2020

Freckles and Thoughts

Orlagh Shanks, our 2019 winner (who also won in 2018) graduated from Liverpool John Moores University and has recently returned from a scholarship year working in New York. She continues to blog regularly and now specialises in influencer marketing.

We monitor #prstudent across social media and the best way to make your content discoverable is to use this tag on your content.