Nick Clegg backs campaign to ensure PR industry interns are paid

PR Week reports:

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has thrown his weight behind a campaign being launched this week by PRWeek and the PRCA [one of the PR industry trade bodies] to end the practice of unpaid internships.

To launch the campaign, the PRCA will today take the step of placing a list on its website of all PRCA member agencies who commit to paying at least the National Minimum Wage to interns.

The list, researched in June, includes just 21 out of 264 member agencies – a mere one in 13. Among the handful of big agencies committed to paying up are Cohn & Wolfe and MHP Communications.

Declaration of interest – MHP Communications is my own place of work.

Treating interns properly in the PR industry is particularly important because it is also one of the industries where a high proportion of jobs are filled through means which do not start with placing a public job ad. That means that knowing who to contact and who to talk to gives you a particular advantage in job hunting and so the contacts you make as an intern can multiple in their benefits quite dramatically through a career.

Treating interns well – both in paying them and making their internship a genuine opportunity rather than an excuse for cheap labour – has an important part to play in making those benefits available to people based on their ability.

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9 Comments

  • Leekliberal 15th Oct '11 - 6:49pm

    Guido – With our loss of the ‘Short’ money given to opposition parties and as we receive nothing from vested interests we are skint, unlike your beloved Tories! Of course we would wish to pay our interns. When you support state funding of political parties to get us all all out of the pockets of big business and the unions I will take your criticism more seriously!

  • Daniel Henry 16th Oct '11 - 8:18am

    As much as I’d hate to side with Guido I think struggling businesses could say a similar thing.

    I think a better answer for us is to say we’re working on it. It’s not a change we expect to be achieved overnight – our party being a key example. But it’s an aspiration we’re working towards.

  • Old Codger Chris 16th Oct '11 - 9:28am

    If the spinners of PR can do this, perhaps real professions and industries will follow.

  • “But it’s an aspiration we’re working towards.”

    I’m curious – is the party actually working towards it in any meaningful way? If so, I’d be interested in the details of what’s being done.

  • Guido – With our loss of the ‘Short’ money given to opposition parties and as we receive nothing from vested interests we are skint, unlike your beloved Tories! Of course we would wish to pay our interns. When you support state funding of political parties to get us all all out of the pockets of big business and the unions I will take your criticism more seriously!

    Oh, silly me, there I was thinking being in Government was about doing what [you think] is best for the country. Not a state funded junket.

    There are attested cases of large, highly profitable companies using interns on a rolling basis, or individuals going through two or three or more internships before landing a paid position, but the blunt nature of this proposal would see small to medium companies which provide legs-up for one or two plucky individuals having to withdraw this service. After that it’ll become as it was before, school tie networks and whom your parents know getting cushy positions for already financially secure individuals whilst the plebs have to make-do with unrelated – and often low-paid – jobs.

    Unless your Party HQ is paying its interns at least the minimum wage (at which point they cease to become interns, and become employees) it would no more have any moral authority on this as the Guardian Media Group as well as minor toffs and trustifarians in UK-Uncet do on tax evasion and corporate spending.

    Much as I’d hate to side with Paul Staines (calling him Guido only serves his ego) on this… no, I really won’t. He has feet of clay as well.

    ~alec

  • Guido has a fair point. Why are is having unpaid internships as a key part of getting a job in the PR industry a bad thing but unpaid internships as a key part of getting a job in the Liberal Democrats OK?

    And its not just short money – we had them when we were getting short money and there are interns in positions which would never have been covered by Short Money (such as campaigns positions).

  • david thorpe 17th Oct '11 - 2:44pm

    @ amy I suspect from your post you’ve never been a member……..or dont read the news because IM nots ure what the toeiws have sold?

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