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James Meredith, Head of External Relations at Liberty Communications, shares how thrilled the agency is to be shortlisted for the UK Company Culture Awards

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Published Date 13.04.2023

We are very proud and thrilled to have been shortlisted as a finalist in the Next Generation Initiative category of the 2023 UK Company Culture Awards. While awards aren’t everything, it is undoubtedly rewarding to receive independent recognition for the work we are doing at Liberty Communications.

The Liberty Academy programme, for which we have been shortlisted, is an initiative very close to me personally as well as my colleagues at Liberty. It is an initiative we established originally 10 years ago geared around helping students learn more about the public relations (PR) industry and what an entry level role working in PR is like.

A particular focus is on engaging with young people from BAME backgrounds and students who do not necessarily have a family history of higher education. We feel this is an important part of our duty as a PR agency to try and ensure the industry is open to all.

Having formed long-term partnerships formed with Queen Mary University (QMU), King’s College and Kingston University in 2021, we decided to build on the success of the Liberty Academy at the end of 2021 and further extend our commitment to diversity through the initiative.

There were three main objectives that we set ourselves with refreshing the initiative, with diversity front of mind:

  • To broaden the scope of the Liberty Academy beyond London, with the target of forming one partnership with a university in the North of England.
  • To integrate the Liberty Academy programme as part of one of our existing university partners’ degree modules – opening the scope of engagement with students from a wider sociocultural background.
  • To increase the length of internships offered to students via the Liberty Academy programme, moving from 1-2 week placements to a longer engagement so interns would benefit from increased opportunities and experiences.

Fast forward to today, and it has been extremely pleasing to be able to give big ticks to each of the above! We are very proud to have partnered with Sheffield University to deliver a virtual session on PR attended by students joining from a range of degree backgrounds, including across humanities subjects, languages, journalism, marketing, economics and politics. Next week we are very excited that one of these individuals will be joining Liberty for an internship placement.

Alongside the work with Sheffield University, these past 18 months has also seen us add Westminster University to our roster of partners and integrate the Liberty Academy programme with a degree module for the first time.

Further engagement with Westminster University also resulted in a student studying PR and Advertising join us or a 3-month internship. This student also joined our podcast as a guest as we ran a special episode looking at the various potential routes to exploring a career in the PR industry.

We firmly believe that the Liberty Academy is different to graduate programmes offered by other PR agencies in that it is not solely a recruitment tool. Rather, it is focused on Liberty as an employer aiming to inspire, educate and help the next generation entering the workforce from a range of different sociocultural backgrounds.

In the future, we plan on rolling out the programme further to colleges and universities in the US, additional university partners in the UK, as well as potentially to engage with schools and school leavers. Feel free to keep an eye on our website and social media channels (Twitter and LinkedIn) for more developments on this front!

In the meantime though, we are very much looking forward to the Awards Ceremony on Thursday 4th May and are keeping our fingers crossed!

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