"What's your daughter going to read at Leeds?" I asked. "Public Relations." was the answer. "PUBLIC RELATIONS !!! " I exclaimed " How on earth do you spend three years doing a degree in Public Relations?"
I have been thinking about that over the last couple of days and still just do not see how you could fill three years doing a degree in PR. OK sure you need to learn a bit of French so you can find your way around a decent restaurant menu and I will admit that those from 'disadvantaged backgrounds' may need to do an accelerated crammer in basic table manners. Also a knowledge of wine and how much you can drink before you become paralytic and are sick all over the journalist you are entertaining is vital, but does it really take three years at University to learn this?
So what else should a PR degree course teach. Well obviously an ability to write good English is vital and, more importantly, an ability to write an amusing press release which will appeal to the journalist on the receiving end of it and get him to either give you a call or just write the story blind from the press release.
When I was writing a regular property column for the Field magazine I used to get inundated with press releases and most were boring to a degree unimaginable unless you were a brain dead girl in PR.
But at the end of the day if you want press coverage then you need to go out to lunch. And not one of those pathetic modern affairs which last an hour and everyone drinks fizzy water before going back to the office- no you need a proper lunch-with bags of alcholol -lasting most of the afternoon. Why? because after a lunch like that you have truly 'bonded' with your guest and from then on you will always be able to pick up the phone and get your story at least listened too if not acted on.
Thinking back to that three year degree course in PR at Leeds you know the really sad thing is that the one thing they probably don't teach is the miraculous benefits of liquid lunches.