Is on-the-job training always the best option to learn PR & Corporate Communications?

“We are hiring Interns” and “Management Trainees Welcome” are very common lines students of professional courses come across at various points in their job-hunting process. Our academic pursuits must lead us to the careers of our choices, which is something we have always believed while pursuing our education. Existing traditional pedagogy in our country has often been questioned for its ability to deliver real learning. Questions have always been around the strong theoretical aspect, which probably remains in a disconnect with actual business practices.

Theoretical understanding is always good from a macro perspective of overall learning for the students of professional courses. However, one dilemma also bothers them is how much are they job-ready? Also, whether it is a small local institution/university or a well-established global institution, most often the onus of ensuring that studies are undertaken seriously remains on the students and not teachers. With this, the above said dilemma is found to be ever-increasing among the new job aspirants.

Like other industries, even public relations and corporate communications are not untouched with this. Nowadays, keeping this in mind most of the institutions providing academic training programmes in the field of corporate communications and public relations have a built-in concept of on the job training. Many of them dedicate entire semesters (usually the last ones) of their Degree and Diploma courses to ensure that students can catch up with a fair amount of practical learnings and are prepared well for their future roles.

Life at work is always different from life at college. Infrastructure resources required to conduct business, presence of experienced colleagues, available knowledge within the work environment, the cumulative experience of colleagues, seniors, and peers, and preparing the inbound staff for the business are some of the key features that come in as a part of on the job training. No case studies and discussions, but only real situations to face, only enhancing their competencies.

Business always survives in the current environment as they always exist in the ‘now’ of things. Whether its government policy or regulation, whether it is economy, market environment, or competitive scenario, every time a professional will be exposed to a new, current, and contemporary situation in the business. Something, which will be most often beyond the theoretical expertise achieved while pursuing academics. Businesses will always have current relevance, there will be specific deliverables expected from the professionals, targets to be achieved, and milestones to be reached in a specific work environment. All of this cannot be mimicked in an academic environment.

Communication business is among those, which are extremely dynamic and often face developing moments and situations. Campaigns, product launches, promotions, crises, or announcements for that matter always possess some element of newness among them. They all may sound similar but always are surrounded by unique and different situations. And therefore, students of communications when exposed to realistic situations during their on the job training, acquire first-hand learning that comes from a non-simulated environment.

Any public relations and corporate communications agency always functions in a versatile environment with clients coming in from diverse domains. While the overall approach of communications umbrella is always similarly outlined, there are nuances worth capturing from a client to client, domain to domain, and media to media perspective. Something, that is best learned in a real environment instead of a theoretical and academic one.

Understanding the organisation, planning campaigns, developing the messaging for specific campaigns, rolling out of communications programme, dissemination of information to influencers, media, and reaching out the real audiences in a real-life-real-work environment can deliver learnings of the highest order.

Always, a good on-the-job training programme is bound to deliver a better grasp on the issues of communications for any professional!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Praveen Nagda
Praveen Nagda is the CEO of Peregrine Public Relations, a full-service corporate communications and public relations consultancy firm delivering a pan-India reach to its clients. He also heads White Coffee, an independent events & celebrity engagement company.

Praveen has been closely associated with many national and international events related to cinema for children, art and culture. He has a well-rounded experience that cuts across all key sectors of PR & Corporate Communications.

He started his career with URJA Communications, an advertising agency specialising in technology brands, where he was instrumental in developing the PR division. Post this, he had a stint with Horizons Porter Novelli, a global public relations consultancy. Thereafter, he was heading the IT & Telecom division at Clea PR, a leading Indian public relations and communications company followed by a fairly long stint with Omnicom Group agencies viz. TBWA\India and Brodeur India.

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