Meet Laura Watson

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Laura is the Communications & Engagement Support Officer for North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) and has completed the CIPR Professional PR Certificate (Level 5).

Why did you decide to study this PR qualification?

Whilst studying sports management at university, one of the modules was sports marketing, and it was within this that I discovered my passion for writing and communications, which prompted me to look for a work experience placement within an organisation offering an opportunity in PR and communications. I managed to secure a position with a non-for-profit county sports organisation. After my placement, they offered me a full-time job when I graduated from university in 2016.

The two years I worked there really set me up for the industry, but I needed a new challenge, and that’s when I got the job working for NEAS. It was here where I discovered that it was not only the skills and experience you needed, I needed to know more about how the PR industry worked and in particular, how to communicate with an organisation’s audience. A key driver was that I wanted to understand how to evaluate what I was doing. I felt it was essential to understand the industry to utilise my skills fully.

What did you enjoy most about this qualification?

What I enjoyed most was listening to the expertise from the tutors who are experts in their field. They know the industry, what works, what doesn’t and they were fascinating to listen to and I gained a lot of knowledge from them to help me with assignments as well as plenty of ideas to take back to the office.

What do you do differently now, after passing your Certificate?

I’m now working towards the next band in my role, and I’m actively taking on more responsibility to write PR plans and lead on various aspects of work, which I never got to do previous to the CIPR course, but I have now the skills to be able to do so. I also now make a specific effort to keep up with the latest industry demands and trends; I didn’t realise how much things change within PR! Although the foundation principles remain.

What words of advice would you give anyone considering a career in PR?

I would say that the possibilities are endless in terms of jobs and opportunities; the skills needed in PR are so transferable. From graphic designers and event coordinators to journalists and IT workers; the industry is ever-evolving. There’s not one fixed pathway anymore. Don’t be put off if you can’t write as you might have a hidden skill that the PR team is crying out for! Most companies are always trying to gain advantages over competitors or to deliver the best service possible for clients/ service users. However, communication skills are critical, so whatever your background or experience, if you are a good communicator for a range of people and channels, it’s a great place to start. 

Would you recommend nesma as a study centre?

I would highly recommend nesma as a place to study. From the hospitality to the teaching; the standard and quality was excellent throughout my time on the course.

This CIPR qualification will provide you with a detailed introduction to PR and enable you to develop the knowledge and skills to progress in a career in PR. It is a great way to gain a solid introduction to public relations and will help you to think in a more planned and focused way.