Career stories

PLMR LEARN: Our foundational training programme for consultants new to the communications sector 

by Alex Wray

PLMR has an unrivalled track record of developing junior talent, with colleagues listed on the prestigious PR Week 30 Under 30 in each of the last three years, and this year colleagues have been named a ‘Rising Star’ by the PRCA and have been shortlisted as Intern of the Year by the PRCA.  

A crucial part of our success is through the comprehensive training and development programme we run for all new junior colleagues, known as the PLMR LEARN programme. The goal of this nine-module course is to instil strong fundamentals and core skills in all colleagues so that they can thrive in their roles, deliver outstanding work, and super charge their career development.   

Alex Wray joined PLMR in 2021 and is a core member of our Energy and Sustainability Team. He completed PLMR’s LEARN training programme during his first year with the company, and we sat down with him recently to find out more about how the programme has helped give him the confidence and knowledge needed to deliver excellent results and advance his career.  

Can you tell us a little bit about the PLMR Learn programme and your experience of the sessions?  

As junior consultants embarking on the early stages of our careers at PLMR, we undertake a series of training sessions designed to help us develop our skills and knowledge. In the most recent PLMR LEARN programme there were nine workshops.  

The sessions ranged from introductions to core communications activities, such as public relations, public affairs, and crisis management, to advice on advancing key skills like our creative writing abilities. The sessions are delivered by experts in their respective fields, and it is fantastic to be able to hear from them first hand. 

Which of the training modules did you find the most interesting and why? 

I found two training modules particularly interesting. The first, ‘local authorities and local engagement’ provided a fascinating insight into how consultants can influence policy at the local level. The speakers showed how a public affairs campaign can be built from the ground up and prove effective in swaying key national policymakers. 

The session was also a great opportunity to hear about the successful work of PLMR’s Midlands office based in Birmingham. Important points were illustrated with some of our strongest case studies, including the West Midlands Gigafactory and UKBIC, a national battery manufacturing facility. 

The other module, ‘Thriving in a PR Crisis’ was a comprehensive rundown of how communication agencies can support clients during a media crisis. This was helpful for me as I had never been involved in crisis work before. It was intriguing to learn about the factors that comprise a recipe for a crisis and the key steps required to handle one. 

How has the PLMR LEARN programme benefitted you and, in turn, helped you better support your clients and colleagues? 

The PLMR LEARN programme has been vital in boosting my abilities as a consultant and enabled me to increase the level of support I provide to clients. It has been particularly helpful in two areas. 

The ‘creative writing’ session shined a new light on the way I write and made me consider different techniques and perspectives. Writing is the core skill in a PR toolkit and the session has improved my press releases and increased my chances of achieving strong coverage in media. 

The other module that has been important to my work is ‘effective public affairs’. I work on several accounts within this sphere and the session taught me new ideas and approaches that I have subsequently suggested to clients. 

What piece of advice would you give to a new Account Executive joining PLMR? 

My main piece of advice to any new colleague joining at the Account Executive level is to come in with an eagerness to work and learn. Our job is fascinating, and no day is like another, if you have a passion for politics then there is no better place to be than the heart of Westminster. Keep asking questions of senior colleagues, as there is an extraordinary range of knowledge and experience across the business, and you will grow just by soaking it in. 

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PLMR’s crisis communications experience is second to none, and includes pre-emptive and reactive work across traditional and social media channels. We work with a range of organisations to offer critical communication support when they are faced with difficult and challenging scenarios.