The PR Students Experience: Ella McLaren

In this week’s the PR Students Experience, I spoke to Ella McLaren who is just finishing her second year on the PR degree at University of the Arts London. Below I talk about all of the projects Ella has worked on alongside her degree as well as her plans for a future in the music industry.

In The PR Students Experience we delve into past and present PR students’ modules & topics, course structure, universities’ guidance on how to enter the PR industry, career help, how they’re finding work in the industry and plans for the future.

Course Structure and Modules

Ella’s favourite topics on her course have been the modules that are more practical. In first semester this year she did a module called Planning PR Campaigns which she said she loved as it is directly related to the work you do in a PR role.

When discussing the structure of her course and module choices, Ella said, “UAL’s PR course is really structured, you get one optional module in first and second year and that’s it for the whole degree.” One of her optional module’s was in podcasting in which she created a 10 minute podcast which you can listen to here.

Ella did say that she doesn’t mind not having many modules to pick. 3 years ago she started a Liberal Arts degree at Leeds University but the freedom to choose all optional modules didn’t work out for her. The structure at UAL has meant that she is being taught the relevant subjects for her future career.

Ella loves studying PR as she thinks it really suits her skillset, she likes talking to people, she loves to write and enjoys planning. At the same time it is also challenging which means it isn’t boring for her.

Is the course up to date and is there anything that’s not included?

Throughout her modules, Ella said that her lecturers will refer to the CIPR, PRCA and any new studies and reports around PR. Her lecturers also pick up on the most recent news with lecturers even changing their lesson plans because of something that happened that week.

The degree touches on relevant topics across the world including Black Lives Matter, the pandemic, museums returning artefacts etc., and relating that to PR.

With a course structure that only allows for 2 optional modules, the UAL course tries to include as much as they can. Ella said she thinks they cover all the bases, but some things they kind of gloss over. She didn’t think they focused enough on writing skills, whether that be for press releases or magazine articles. So, Ella decided to set up a cross-campus magazine at UAL. The magazine, which is called Link, focuses on relevant issues for students, as well as opportunities for students to showcase their work.

She also said that so far her course has felt more theoretical rather than fully preparing for working in PR, which is why she enjoys any practical modules she does have.

Career Development Guidance

Although not a lot of the modules include practical, real-life experiences, her course does have a module called Public Relations Professionalism which includes a placement. So, as that module develops and she goes into final year her opinions on the practical side of things may change.

Ella hasn’t used the careers department much as she knows what she is wanting to do. She wants to work in the music industry, originally she wanted to work in artist management but after working at Mumford & Sons management agency (how cool right?!) she realised she enjoyed the publicity side of things more.

She said that since the pandemic, professional development has become a lot more independent and you as an individual need to make the most of it. For her internships she kept asking multiple places and going and looking for them herself. She said she always tells her friends “if you don’t ask it won’t happen.” Ella has two internships lined up, one with Lucid and one with Satellite 414. After contacting 71 agencies she received 10 replies, and finally 2 internships.

Ella’s future

Ella’s future is in the music industry, but she doesn’t want to box herself in with what she does. She likes a more strategic role, starting at an agency but perhaps working in-house later on.

She is excited about her internships as she’s working both at a music agency, but also an entertainment agency meaning she’ll get a well rounded experience.

As a second year, Ella has a year left of her degree. With many projects on the go and her success in landing internships, I’m sure Ella will have a great year and future ahead. I love her dream of working in the music industry.

Get involved!

If you’d like to be involved in The PR Students Experience then feel free to email me at sophsnextstep@gmail.com or DM me on Twitter! I’d love to talk to students across the country and the world to see what we are taught about PR at university.

In my next post on The PR Students Experience, I talk to Megan Harris who’s studying Business and PR at Liverpool John Moores University.

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