The PRCA and others have condemned Birmingham City Football Club for advertising a full-time unpaid work placement in its media and marketing team.
The ad, published on 17 August, says the placement will last for a whole year – September 2021 until September 2022 – and offer "expenses only".
It says the chosen applicant will "gain valuable experience working in content and media creation within a professional football environment" and "have the chance to apply their academic knowledge within an applied setting". "This opportunity will also aim to accelerate their studies, give practical experience in the workplace and increase employability on completion of their studies."
Among other things, candidates will be required to have "computer literacy", to "work unsociable hours where applicable" and to "contribute to the creative process, turning ideas into practical content".
The advertisement says there will also be "the opportunity for additional matchday paid work".
For several years, the PRCA and PRWeek have run a campaign to end the practice of unpaid PR internships. Comms employers are urged to commit to paying interns at least the National Living Wage.
PRCA board member and Liquid PR chief executive Elisabeth Lewis-Jones said: “There is absolutely no moral or legal defence for unpaid work. We’ve seen the pandemic have a devastating impact on entry-level recruitment in the PR, marketing and communications industry. In the race to attract the best talent to our industry, it’s never been more important to build a truly inclusive and diverse workplace. And you can’t talk inclusion if you’re not paying your interns.
"Young people can add a huge amount to any department and it’s important that, as employers, we respect that they are on their career path and not only pay them but train them and show them best practice, whether you’re a small company or a household name such as Birmingham City Football Club.”
Football presenter Gabriel Sutton and sports journalist Crippy Cooke were among those to criticise the Championship club.
You expecting somebody to work full-time for a year for no pay @BCFC? I'm sorry if the socials person receives the stick for this when it should be aimed at whoever thought about offering this role, but this is extremely exploitative and shouldn't be forgotten lightly.— Gabriel Sutton (@GabSutton) August 17, 2021
"Full-time voluntary work" is another term for slave.— Crippy Cooke (@CrippyCooke) August 17, 2021
Others added to the criticism on social media:
"Input their knowledge in the following areas"— Ewan Miller (@EwanJM) August 17, 2021
Thats a lot of knowledge going unpaid.
Plus, the line "any other specific duties" is dangerous. Could be anything. pic.twitter.com/LZj3HogRgS
It’s full-time for a year. Pay your staff. No wonder the club’s a state.— Dan Williams (@WanDilliams) August 17, 2021
PRWeek has contacted Birmingham City Football Club for a response.