Exciting partnership between Rock Kitchen Harris and DMU to boost student prospects

Rock Kitchen Harris (RKH), one of the leading full-service agencies in the East Midlands, will be working with De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) to encourage diversity in the creative industry and help more students find work.

This industry-programme coalition is the first of its kind at DMU and will see close collaboration with Leicester-based RKH and David Gordon, programme leader and Associate Professor of Marketing at the university, to ensure that new practices and influences in the world of advertising and PR are reflected in DMU’s Advertising and Public Relations Management MSc.

RKH partnership web

RKH provides advertising, PR, digital and design services to a wide range of clients and will be feeding directly into the teaching of the course syllabus from the start of the 2021 academic year. Students will benefit from insight from work across from RKH’s client base, which includes leading homebuilder Taylor Wimpey, Vision Express, Twycross Zoo and the Open University, as well as guest lectures from senior members of staff at the agency. The RKH team will also provide expert input across all modules on the MSc.

Jamie Mollart, Client Services and Strategy Director and one of the co-owners of RKH, believes the partnership will provide students with valuable industry experience.

He said: “Generally speaking, I’ve seen a disconnect between students and the advertising and PR industry. Academia is great in giving students a theoretical grounding of the kind of work we do but there’s no replacement for real, practical experience.

“The pace of the industry and complexity of briefs can be a shock to some graduates and we think it’s really important they have the chance to experience what a job in our sector is like. By sharing live briefs from our own clients, we hope that students will gain valuable understanding of delivering concepts and ideas against deadlines to help bolster their portfolio and come to interviews prepared with more experience.”

“We hope to show students that they don’t need to leave Leicester and go to London to work in a creative agency. There are numerous opportunities to work with recognised, national brands in the Midlands and Leicester is an exciting place to start a career.”

Jamie is also keen to shine a light on Leicester’s multicultural heritage and what students from ethnically diverse backgrounds have to offer the advertising and PR industry.

According to a 2020 survey from Marketing Week, 88 per cent of the 3,883 respondents working within the advertising, marketing or PR industries in the UK were white, with 82 per cent of all marketers defining themselves as having come from a middle-class background.  

Recent DMU graduate Mohit Hira, who studied on the Advertising and Public Relations Management MSc course last year, has already landed himself a graduate role, but for Jamie, the practical experience offered by the partnership can open doors for more students.

Jamie said. “The advertising and PR industries are still very white, middle-class. We’re based in one of the most multicultural cities in the UK and, while I can see that reflected in the lecture theatre when I visit DMU, that diversity is not currently reflected in the applicants we see.

“Not only do we want to retain talent in Leicester, more widely, we want to see a more diverse talent pool in the creative sector. There’s no easy fix for this but we need to give people from every background more practical experience of the industry. I’m pleased that RKH can offer this opportunity to students at DMU and hope that our partnership can go some way to encourage greater diversity in our industry in Leicester at least.”

RKH has had a long-standing relationship with DMU and has worked with the university’s marketing department for many years. This new partnership has been the brainchild of David Gordon.

He said: “Over the years, our relationship with Rock Kitchen Harris has really blossomed. Our students have benefitted from their insight through guest lectures and placements, but this combined course structure will provide practical experience alongside our strong theoretical basis.

“By formalising this relationship between our two institutions, we can provide our students with an additional layer of input into job applications and interviews. They will show future employers that they have not only learnt about and received the latest marketing and PR industry material but also that they have applied this knowledge to a very real industry situation.”

Posted on Wednesday 6 October 2021

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