LONDON—Waggener Edstrom and the PRCA have unveiled a joint initiative that will allow academic PR lecturers to intern at the agency, in a bid to improve the quality of education on university communications courses.

The programme will see a handful of university lecturers, from PRCA partner universities, visit WagEd and 'shadow' the firm's teams for a period of two weeks.

According to WagEd EMEA GM Chris Talago (pictured), the initiative is necessary to ensure that PR lecturers are staying abreast of the new realities of agency life, and the changing nature of communications and influence.

"The profession is changing so fundamentally and so quickly that academic courses, the curriculum and lecturers, are not keeping up," said Talago. "We need to get to lecturers so we can begin that transformation."

PRCA director general Francis Ingham noted that too many comms graduates are ill-prepared for modern PR agency life, because of dated techniques and disconnected lecturers. "One of the perennial problems of our industry is the disconnect between practitioners and academics," said Ingham. "So we wholeheartedly applaud WagEd's foresight and innovation in creating this programme."

Talago admitted that there could be resistance from academia, but noted that "shouting at each other" was not going to solve the problems that exist. "It is definitely true that in the past some of the academic institutions have been reticent to come onboard," said Talago. "Hopefully the first few lecturers to come through will make the value more obvious."

One lecturer who has signed up to the programme is Andrea Beetles, a marketing lecturer at Cardiff Business School. She told the Holmes Report that the scheme "represents an exciting opportunity for academics to spend time in a live environment." 

"This means that they are able to take up-to-date practical experience back to their lecture environment and use contemporary, real life examples in class," explained Beetles. "It is imperative that students learn about cutting edge practice as well as current research in order to develop as excellent students and potential employees."