PR Ready? Why I spent an afternoon at The London College of Communications

By Sam Munton on Tuesday, 15 August 2023

When asked if I was interested in delivering a workshop to a group of 40-odd young people looking to get into PR, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous but I knew this wasn’t one to turn down.

I’ve always been passionate about imparting any knowledge I’ve gained to those that are interested and have done a few workshops/ teaching sessions before (albeit to a smaller audience). For me, this was an easy decision, especially after I found out it was for the Taylor Bennett Foundation, a charity that exists to encourage people from minority ethnic backgrounds to pursue careers in communications.

Diversity in all forms is something that is important to me, recognising issues around it in the industry and taking action is vital if we are to make positive changes. Diversity is also something Teamspirit takes seriously, and is one of the reasons we were invited to speak, as Teamspirit offers internship opportunities through the foundation. Internally we also have affinity networks, Unbound (disability & neurodiversity network), Kaleidoscope (race & ethnicity network), Rise (women & gender network), and Beam (LGBTQ+ network).

We were invited to take part in the ‘summer series’, an event which aims to help this year’s cohort of interns get ready for their placements. Our section was on ‘newsjacking’ and ‘how to spot an opportunity for a client’, subjects I was volunteered for, along with a colleague, as people who love media relations.

Aiming to entertain as well as inform, we thought it best to test their knowledge of the media landscape and the tone/angles different outlets take. In PR and media relations it is vital to know which story angles work best for which papers and highlighting these clearly in the pitch to them increases your chance of coverage massively. Thus, putting yourself in the journalist’s shoes for a moment is a great way to do this.

Split into teams, some had The Sun while others got the FT, they were tasked with writing an article on an earnings report from a well-known high street bakery chain (Yes, that one), armed with made-up earnings and plans for the future they got to work.

We weren’t sure how much they would know of the papers in question...‘do young people read papers?’ we thought. But what transpired was some amazingly accurate takes, The Sun article full of pastry-based puns and the FT’s, full of accurate and detailed information.

The second task was designed to reflect the day to day ‘newsroom’ tasks at Teamspirit. Teams were tasked with looking through papers and finding a story that one of our clients could comment on, suggesting what that comment might be, or what the client could add to the story. Again, the students did a great job. Finding very relevant stories and devising interesting ways to move the story on and add the voice of their clients.

It was great to see the students engaging in discussions about different stories, and their enthusiasm for investigating ways in which a client could help. It’s very similar to the process at Teamspirit, teams will often look for stories to discuss and suggest contributing to with clients and colleagues to make sure we are staying on top of the news agenda and challenging ourselves to go further.

Overall, despite my early nerves, this was a great opportunity to hopefully excite the next generation of PRs and improve the levels of diversity and inclusion in our industry.

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