Applying Learning in Real Time

  • Certificate in Public Relations and Communication Management (Level 5)


The first student to complete a cross-credit towards a Certificate in Public Relations, through the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand’s APR ( Accreditation in Public Relations) programme, Grace Loftus, says her studies have made her more mindful of how communication should work in an organisation. 

After completing their APR, a practitioner can apply to be awarded a cross credit with the Open Polytechnic towards a Bachelor of Applied Science (with or without a Communication major), Certificate in Public Relations and Communication Management, or a Diploma in Public Relations and Communication Management.

Distance learning for Grace, who is a Communications Advisor for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), was the best option.

“Last year I participated in the APR programme which on completion was cross-credited towards the Open Polytechnic’s Certificate in Public Relations and Communication Management.  I decided to go ahead and add the certificate to my APR qualification as I like a challenge and it was something I had capacity to do over a few months alongside my day-to-day work,” she explains.

“Distance learning has really helped me with my time management skills and my work/life balance. I have also liked the interaction with lecturers and other students outside of traditional face-to-face meetings. I wanted to have some flexibility to study when I wanted, where I wanted, and also to have the opportunity to apply my learnings in real-world situations as I went along.”

Grace says the business communication course she completed from the Open Polytechnic to gain the Certificate in Public Relations and Communication Management has helped give her an additional perspective on her day-to-day work.

“I deliver specialist communications advice and services on an account management basis to specific branches, teams, and programmes of work within MBIE. I create end-to-end integrated communication strategies and plans, write content for external publications and MBIE’s intranet, and manage media requests and MBIE’s response to them,” she says.

“I now think more strategically when formulating a campaign or communication plan. I am also more mindful of how communication should work in an organisation and the need for staff to have a say in what goes on in the business.”

An experienced life-long learner, Grace had already completed a Bachelor of Arts in History and English Literature (with Honours) from Trinity College in Dublin, a Masters in English Language Teaching, as well as two years of a Bachelor of Science majoring in Chemistry at University College Dublin before starting her public relations qualifications. She says the highlight of the business communication course at the Open Polytechnic was completing her own research.

“I thought the option of accessing the materials in hard copy or online was great. I also thought the readings were a good combination of theoretical and practical information. I especially liked the opportunity to apply my learnings to real-world situations, namely the final two assignments where I had the opportunity to conduct my own research into the use or proposed use of current and emerging technologies within my organisation.”

Grace is now considering working towards a postgraduate communication qualification.

“I’ve really enjoyed the need to be more mindful with what I do with my time and how to successfully juggle competing priorities – work, study, social activities etc. My prior experience of full-time study overseas was that it was something that you did in isolation – both in terms of being by myself and away from the real world. Having to work and study at the same time, as well as work collaboratively with other people from different cultures, was a real eye-opener for me. I loved it,” she says.

Grace advises others who are considering part-time study to take it one step at a time.

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I know it sounds clichéd but it’s true. Don’t be put off by looking at the huge mountain you have to climb. Just focus on what you are doing now and enjoy the climb. Just do a little every day, no matter how small, and you will get there in the end.”

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