Each year, we ask our students to reflect and we assess the results. Our VC reflects on a daily basis. Our professional body seeks to encourage reflective practice and continuous professional development through its Developing Excellence initiative.
I prepared my Developing Excellence submission at the start of the academic year but didn’t jump through the CIPR’s hoops. Instead, here’s my reflection on how I did in meeting my objectives for the 2006-7 academic year.
Objective One: to improve dialogue between PR students, practitioners and educators.
Commentary on achievements: I’ve continued blogging about PR from an educational perspective (as I have each year since 2001) – but perhaps with waning enthusiasm. Yet the links and comments show that my blog is a reasonable meeting place for PR students, practitioners and educators.
PR Books wiki was an attempt to provide some online reading lists for students and enquiring practitioners. It serves a limited purpose, but has not achieved broader take up (I remain the only regular editor of this wiki). Its most active page is nothing to do with books, it’s a bulletin board for PR jobs and placement opportunities. Perhaps this is the direction I should take: student and graduate careers advice?
I have edited another issue of Behind the Spin, a magazine that has broadened out to become the young PR practitoner’s publication. Students particularly welcome the challenge of getting their words in print and it’s valuable to realise that print is still appreciated.
Objective Two: to gain fresh experience of professional training delivery.
Commentary on achievements: Working with a colleague, I delivered two days’ training in London for a government agency in December. This was a challenge as the group ranged from experienced press officers to senior managers with no PR experience. They were respectful but sceptical of the value of academic input, so we had to overcome this. The feedback from the two days was positive.
Objective Three: to improve my professional networking skills.
Commentary on achievements: This is where I’m happy to admit to being ‘teacher turned learner’. I’ve much to learn from experienced hands such as Andy Green, and am regularly playing catch-up with the social media in-crowd (Paull, Simon, Stephen, Alex et al). I’ve finally admitted defeat and signed up to Facebook, which now seems to have reached critical mass as a social space.
But connecting with people also involves occasionally meeting people. I’ve been impressed by the energy and professionalism of Andrew and Nicky Wake, have enjoyed a couple of social media gatherings at this university, and a crisis management conference in Manchester. Lucy Laville has managed a successful series of guest lectures which have brought together students from several local universities, practioners and alumni. I’m looking forward to another series next year. You should join us.
It was also a pleasure to host Paull Young on his blogging world tour, and his presence enlivened a few classes. I still intend to keep involved in Forward.
This doesn’t amount to much to brag about for a year’s work, but I’ve excluded the routine day job from my report (while never knowingly ignoring my responsibilities). Each year, students grow older and wiser and change their perspective on the world; last year one well-known young PR blogger changed jobs three times.
Our destiny as teachers and lecturers is to repeat the process over again. Plus ca change…
This autumn I will be approaching five years in the same job, the longest I have ever worked for one employer. This either makes me complacent and settled into the routine, or restless for change. I should reflect on that…
To follow, my objectives for 2007-8.