Opinion 3 minute read
Now that the public spending cuts have been revealed, you may fear that your job is on the line. If you do lose your position, will you consider a career change into teaching? Government public relations professionals will be the first victims, followed by PROs dependent on public contracts. If the cuts (and any tax hikes) suppress demand in markets, things good get tough.
So is teaching PR at one of the UKs PR degree courses a potential safe haven for redundant PROs? What’s the switch like and what are the chances of getting a teaching job?
There is a culture gulf between the worlds of practice and teaching. You’ll be facing 80 students in hour-long lectures and 18 learners in seminars. You won’t be taking instructions from craggy, hardened superiors or stroppy clients. You will be in charge of teaching young people who start by respecting you, and who want to learn (mostly).
The first requirements for the career swerve are self-confidence that you're a competent PRO, and an enthusiasm to pass on your knowledge. You can’t teach PR writing if your lecture slides and handouts have bad grammar and foggy meaning. It really is embarrassing! You lose respect.
There are some 30 UK universities offering PR first degrees and masters. Go to their websites; look at the subjects taught. Could you teach them with confidence and enthusiasm?
If ‘yes’, contact the course tutor and offer to guest lecture, that is to give a one-off talk. You should be paid about £30. So not a lot and remember for every hour in front of the lectern, you have to shape and deepen your knowledge into a coherent lecture that informs while not boring to death. That takes two hours preparation for the novice.
Beyond the one-off appearance, you could apply to teach a 10-week unit on a part-time contract. With a lecture and say four seminar groups, that gives you five hours a week multiplied by ten for a term. Probably better than jobseekers allowance. If you land a full time contract for a year, you earn on average somewhere between £30 and £40K.
We are at the start of the academic year and most courses are decently staffed. The best time for the campus job hunt is Easter onwards. But unexpected vacancies can crop up.
Apart from the money, there is another advantage to campus. You learn a lot. It is true that you don’t really know PR until you have taught it well, and been interrogated by students. There are also many wise colleagues to learn from. An intellectually exciting challenge is justifying the costs and benefit of PR in our sort of society.
By the way, I write this knowing that cuts will hit the campus as well and that I may have to swerve to another berth. See you perhaps on the crossover. Happy to talk by email.
Kevin Moloney is a PR teacher and researcher at Bournemouth University.