For this week’s PR Students Experience I had the chance to meet Babett Kürschner and discuss her time at University of the Arts London (UAL). Babett is currently a third year public relations student at UAL and does a lot of extra work alongside her degree.
Babbett is very proactive and you may have seen her on Twitter. She has plenty of experience from internships and freelance work as well as her blog and course Instagram page. Her course sounds different to those I’ve read about as it has a more creative spin on PR. Read on to find out more!
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
The public relations course at UAL is split into 3 sections: core, contextual and professional.
Babett named a few core module titles such Media and Communications, Media Relations, Planning PR Campaigns and Investigating Contemporary Communications. She mentioned that these modules can be quite social sciences based. Contextual modules included Reputation Management and Digital PR & Communication. “Modules really build on top of one another, so in second year we had intro to media relations but in third year we delve more into the sociological and psychological aspects of that,” said Babbett.
The professional modules at UAL include modules such as Agency Life and Creative PR Practice. She said “Because we are an arts university, a lot of the contextual and professional modules focus on giving us creative skills so we learned to use software like InDesign andPhotoshop.” The idea behind learning these creative skills is that as a PR professional we will most likely work together with graphic designers or photographers and commission work, so we need to have an understanding of what goes into creating a campaign, from start to finish.
One of her favourite modules was Persuasion and Public Opinion as it applied psychological theory to PR. She also enjoyed all of the practical modules like the Agency Life module which included a competition which entailed giving a pitch to a startup .
Is the course up-to-date and is there anything that’s not included?
Babett said “I think we have a nice mix of modules that include the history of PR but also lecturers using examples that are really current.” Alongside this her lecturers also include recent papers and critical PR research into their modules.
Everything that the course at UAL doesn’t have, students have been able to initiate themselves. Babett felt there was an opportunity to build an online community for her course, so alongside her peers she helped develop the Instagram page for her course @lccpublicrelations.
They started out with the different types of measurement so looking at not only output but also outcome. “The planning model does require you to have measurable objectives,” said Babett. She proceeded to say “We did some exercises about differentiating between a strategy and a tactic,which has been burned into my head.”
They were also encouraged to measure “success” not only by metrics, but focus on outcomes like relationship building and attitude shifts. They also looked at how you can make sense of these intangible things and how to make them tangible if you were to explain to the C-suite.
Career development guidance
In her second year on the public relations course, Babett did a module called PR Professionalism which covered CV building, cover letter writing and required students to complete an internship.
The course holds monthly industry insight sessions with professionals from outside the university where students get a chance to talk and connect afterwards. Babett mentioned that 2 out of 3 of the internships she received were from contacts she made through those insight sessions. Sadly they were put on hold during the pandemic but impressive nevertheless.
The Public Relations degree at UAL is part of the PRCA free student membership which Babett makes the most of as she was a course rep so managed to get a ticket to the PRCA conference which was paid for by her course.
Finding work in the industry
“A lot of it is dependent on how proactive you are,” said Babett.
Before this degree she studied business law for two years and worked in comms departments at non-profits alongside. Eventually she decided to change degrees to pursue something she was genuinely passionate about: PR. The work she had done during her initial studies meant that she had a bit of work experience going into her degree which made it easier when applying for roles.
She freelanced for a feminist magazine Vagina-nomics which she got from attending an event she knew they would be at and seeking a job opportunity. She mentioned that the people you work for is just as much about whether they’re right for you as you are right for them, so seek out the opportunities you really want.
After her internships were cancelled, Babett started her blog which is how she got recruited for her most recent job as Communications Lead at tech2impact. She reiterated that a lot of opportunities she received was by being She also does it because she enjoys writing and said “I do it because I enjoy it and not because it’s a means to an end. It’s good to be passionate about what you do, getting better at what you do, getting noticed for that and it helps to get the ball rolling.”
She is doing a masters programme in Communications, Media and Creative Industries at Sciences Po which is 2 years long and she’d really like to do a gap year at the Paris office of L’Oréal, as they offer a masters gap year.
After that she’d like to work at a big agency. She said “I see PR and comms as a really good way to inflict positive change in society, we have also seen a big shift in value at agencies and I want to be a part of that change.”
As an international student who has worked in different countries, Babett would like to move around a bit more and work in different countries. Alongside this she’d also like to learn French.
If you’d like to be involved in The PR Students Experience then feel free to email me at email@example.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 Rhea Mathew who studied a BA in Comms, English and Sociology as well as a MA in Communications Studies at Indiana University.