Bournemouth University CIPR representatives Victoria Goddard and Amy Ashworth enter the daunting world of event organisation to arrange a ‘speed dating’ evening with PR professionals.
A chance for students to go “speed-dating” with PR professionals proved a major success at Bournemouth University – despite a hectic last-minute change of venue.
The interactive nature of the Meet the Professionals event made it unique from others of its kind. Instead of a formal lecture where practitioners were invited to make a speech, students had the opportunity to talk to and question the practitioners in a relaxed environment, often with exciting results.
The idea for the evening was drawn from the concept of speed dating. Each group of students was allocated seven minutes to talk with the professionals sat at individual tables. Then the bell rang and they moved on to the next tables.
The evening, on February 16, ran smoothly and as the wine flowed. So did the conversation – in some cases it was difficult to prise the groups apart. Students were able to put their networking skills to good use, gaining contacts and “insider” knowledge about the increasingly competitive PR industry.
Second year PR students, never willing to let an opportunity pass them by, were keen to impress the practitioners, hoping to raise their chances of a job for their placement year or some work experience.
Meredith Molony, a second year PR student, said: “I’ve really enjoyed myself this evening and I have got a few business cards so I’m going straight home to email them my CV.”
The practitioners thoroughly enjoyed themselves and said they were always happy to be quizzed by the inquisitive students. In follow up to the event, Heather Yaxley from Applause Consultancy said: “Meet the Professionals is a well established event in the CIPR Wessex calendar — and the Bournemouth University student representatives on the committee who are responsible for its organisation ensured the format was fresh and interesting for both the experienced practitioners and the attending students.
“This year’s event attracted a record number of companies and individual CIPR members and dozens of enthusiastic first and second years from the university, making it a great success.”
Steve Bendell, PR Managing Director for Aylesworth Fleming, said: “It was great to see so many keen and enthusiastic students. I left the evening thinking our profession is in very safe hands.”
The afternoon got off a tense start when the heating failed and the venue had to be changed last minute. But the new location proved to be more suitable, providing a spacious, welcoming environment. Amy Ashworth, whose organisational skills and ability to think quickly paid off, said: “High blood pressure is a small price to pay for a successful event!”
Promoting the CIPR was another key objective of the event, so there was a comprehensive information stand with information packs about how to succeed in the PR industry and plenty of copies of Behind the Spin magazine! The first year students were interested in the prospect of becoming a CIPR Rep themselves, so the elections next year may prove highly competitive!
Event organisation is an integral role of PR and we feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to organise an event like this for Bournemouth University and the CIPR. After many stressful moments and a lot of hard work, Meet the Professionals resulted in a success for all involved.
One key achievement we felt was that all of our hard work was beneficial, and that we had provided students with a valuable insight into the practical PR world.
- The professionals in attendance were: Steve Wilson and Sue Hines from Hallmark PR, Dorcas Williams from JP Morgan, Francesca Llewellyn and Steve Bendell from Aylesworth Fleming Ltd, Mike Keen from Mott McDonald, Nikki Cope, Gemma Griffin, and Tina Spicer from McKenna Townsend, Bryan Walker from Phoenix-2, Nick Cloke from Dorset Police, Heather Yaxley from Applause Consultancy and Jim Rowe, Head of Media for Virgin Trains