Are you a vivid communicator? Have a love for social media? Are passionate about writing? Read the news religiously? Then a career in PR may be for you!
This week we spoke with Lecturer in Communications at Deakin University Bronwyn Kirby; who shares with us her career journey as well giving an invaluable insight and advice to those looking to get into the public relations industry.
Firstly, how did you get into the PR industry was it something you were passionate about or did you fall into it?
I didn’t study PR at the undergraduate level; it didn’t exist as a course when I was at university (that makes me feel old!). My tertiary studies were based around writing and literature units; I’ve always enjoyed writing and communication. When I graduated I began working as a copywriter in the travel industry. It was a great place to start my career and gave me a solid grounding in professional writing, editing and the print process, plus lots of trips away which was a bonus! The role also really developed my eye for detail, a skill that still serves me well today. For the next eight or so years I worked in writing, marketing and management roles in the travel, film and video industries. When I moved to Geelong to start my family I secured a job as a public relations consultant. I found the skills I’d developed were a great fit for the role; it was a match made in heaven! I stayed working in PR agency roles for ten years and really enjoyed my time in that world.
How long have you been working at Deakin? What is your favourite part about teaching and mentoring communication students?
I’ve been a lecturer at Deakin for fifteen years now. My work here was a natural progression from my industry background and I love that I can use that experience to help prepare my students for their professional lives. I have gone on to study a higher degree through Deakin too, which was a positive experience. I’m passionate about the industry and I try to inspire that passion in my students.
How would you describe PR in a nutshell? Are there certain skills that will help an individual in being successful within the industry?
PR is all about managing communication as a tool and understanding how to use that tool to reach a variety of audiences. It’s about making sure the people who need, or would benefit from, information receives it in a way that ‘works’ for them. I think that good public relations practitioners are strong communicators who are interested in the world around them and are strategic in their approach. They are alert to opportunities and are great time-managers. People who are organised, enthusiastic, hardworking and engaged will be successful in this industry.
Would you agree that internships are invaluable for students to be ready for this industry?
Internships are my thing and I certainly think they are invaluable! Internships form a bridge between formal study and the workforce and are a way to build skills, networks and confidence. I know that internships make a difference in employability, in fact in the public relations industry I would say that any student without an internship under their belt would be at a disadvantage.
Does Deakin assist students in finding internship opportunities and support them throughout their internship? Has there been many success stories from students?
Deakin is totally committed to the internship process, and beyond it. We have a full team of professionals in our Work Integrated Learning area who work alongside me and other lecturing staff to support students throughout the internship process. Deakin University’s public relations internship is unique, in fact it’s been awarded a national citation for its approach. Our students attend a trimester of classes that follow-up the internship experience. These classes reflect on aspects of the internship and build career development learning, preparing students for their professional life after graduation. This approach ensures students fully benefit from their internship experience, developing their understanding of the industry before they embark on their job search. It’s empowering.
We have so many success stories from students following their internships! Each year students either secure ongoing work from their placements, or make invaluable networking/mentoring contacts. But I think it’s important to note that every internship is a learning experience.
What would you say to someone who was thinking about the idea of applying for the Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations) at Deakin? What would you say differentiates Deakin to other universities?
I’d say do it! The Deakin course is one of the longest-standing and most respected in the country. Our staff are all ex-practitioners so we know the industry inside and out. The course is accredited by the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) and I know our students are prepared well for their future careers.
With both our Owner Carly and Senior Account Manager Emily being Deakin Public Relations graduates, Deakin is a great platform to learn all the in’s and out of the industry and ensure career success; especially when you are being taught and mentored by influential educators such as Bronwyn! If you are interested in pursuing a career in Public Relations, Deakin are still accepting applications up until the 18th of February.
+Deakin University PR Intern, Holly Bealham