The middle point of my Maitland placement

I have been working in London at Maitland PR Consultancy for 2 weeks now and it has been a massive eye-opener to say the least. Working for a large corporate firm with an added experience of commuting into London every morning has made the ‘PR dream’ a reality.

The first two weeks of my placement have flown by but have presented me with many new opportunities. Within the first week I became familiar with Gorkana, Reuters, and Bloomberg and began to work on briefing notes and coverage monitoring. I had heard of Gorkana before from a lecture at university, however, I had never used the database before. Gorkana is an industry-wide used database meaning this will be a useful skill to take with me through the final year of university and into my career. Within the first few days in the Covent Garden based office I was given the task of running an errand to a nearby clients office and having only visited London a few times prior to starting my placement I was clueless as to where I was going. With some rough directions scribbled on a scrap piece of paper and an umbrella at the ready, I ventured out and some how ended up in the right place. I may have ruined my new suede pumps in the rain, but I now know the surrounding area a bit better.

The second week was spent working on more briefing notes and coverage monitoring and started to work on research documents for clients. The research documents would consist of coverage relating to the clients interest, journalists within that sector, and possible angles to reach these journalists. A second errand to find camcorder cables and a memory card was a bit more of a challenge during the week as Oxford Street was quite hard to find with minimal directions. Hurray for GPS on phones, right!

I am enjoying the placement so far, especially seeing the difference between the work I am familiar with to the new financial and corporate projects I’ve been given. I must admit, I don’t understand much of the financial language that the partners and consultants speak here, but I hope that I am contributing through other ways, like creative ideas for reaching new markets. As for commuting, that was fun for the first five minutes… Delayed or cancelled trains are always a treat at the end of the day. Having said that, I am grateful as experiencing what it’s like to live and work in London has smacked the reality into the PR dream that I had of doing it after graduating. I will hopefully be set some new tasks during the last two weeks of my time with Maitland that will give me more experiences to learn from.

Experience: Live Client Pitch

Experience is important for any university student to gain, but it would appear that for PR students it isn’t just an added bonus to have. It’s vital and a ‘must-have’ if you want to get a graduate job offer.

Yesterday saw the end of period 1 for the second year of my university course, public relations and communications. The day consisted of live client pitches that would be assessed and contribute 75% of the total grade for Digital PR unit. The course group was split into two halfs made up of 4 groups in each. One set of 4 groups were pitching for Welchs grape juice brief, whilst the others were pitching for CooperVision brief.

I was in a group with 3 others pitching for CooperVision.

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Here is a photo of my group for the pitch. Paige Hiley, Trine Larsen, myself, and Chloe Attwood (left to right). We worked really well as a group and all put in a lot of effort for the work. The day was very important and a lot of effort was put into rehearsals of the presentation. Fiona came as a representative of CooperVision along with Naomi from FiveByFive PR Agency. This added pressure and made the day more competitive as they would decide which groups would win ‘Best Pitch for CooperVision’, ‘Best Pitch for Welchs’, and ‘Best Overall Student’.

The key focus of the pitch was our groups tactics for the campaign and how we would measure the success. However, we couldn’t just said there and robot-talk through our ideas. We had to be energetic, creative, and find a way to stand out. We included little cheesy jokes and one-liners to get people laughing and also produced a short comical video to be played at the end of our pitch. The video was of myself and the other members of my group having difficulties with our glasses and subsequently wishing we had CooperVision contact lenses. It got the audience laughing and enabled us to stand out.

It was good to be able to sit through the other groups pitches as well to see their approaches to the briefs. Some groups had made a lot of effort, whilst others lacked a creative spark. After all groups had pitched it was time for feedback and for the winners to be revealed.

I was very pleased to find out that my group had won ‘Best Pitch for CooperVision’ and that we would be accepting a certificate for it from Naomi herself. Having a CooperVision representative choose my groups pitch as the winner was amazing and proved that all of our hard work had paid off. The group that I was backing to win ‘Best Pitch for Welchs’ did win it and was pleased as they had put in a lot if creative effort.

It was a great day and provided valuable experience for the future. A huge thank you is owed to the course leader and unit teacher, Sally Holland for planning the day and giving us students the opportunity to gain this real-life experience.

The PR Show 13 – Solent Style

As a student studying public relations and communications it was a great opportunity for me to be able to visit the PR Show 13 in London, at the Business Design Centre, yesterday (26th November). Myself and fellow course members attended the event after it was brought to our attention by our Management Communications module lecturer. ‘The public Relations Show is a new event for the UK public relations professions, providing practitioners with an unrivalled opportunity to network, learn and discover the latest industry tools and techniques.’ – prshow13.co.uk

After a long coach ride and a 30 minute wander around London we finally found the Business Design Centre and registered for the day. There were many different stands of agency’s and professionals that were eager to display the efforts they’re making towards the industry. MyNewsDesk, Fox, PR Newswire, and Shout! Communications were just some of the companys we got a chance to network with. The representatives from these companies were eager to talk to us and give us tips towards our approach to the industry.

PR Show 13

PR Show 13

Myself and a few course members spoke to Natalie Elbourough, from Fox, who gave us great insight into how she ended up in the role she is currently in, and what her key approaches are when working within PR. ‘Try and be both sides of the coin’ was a key quote that I picked out from networking with Natalie, as she explained how it is key to focus on learning a wide range of skills rather than focusing on one.

At the event I got the opportunity to cover the SolentPR social media accounts in order to give on-location updates of how the solent students were getting on at the show. I enjoyed doing this as it gave me the motivation to get involved more and to focus on what would be good for the students.

Check out the Instagram photos I took from the day: @SolentPR

I also managed to grab a quick interview with a couple of solent students who came along to the show to see how they were getting on. Below is the video interview with Olivia Farrel and Gigi Mann at the PR Show 13:

(Everyone hates the sounds of their own voice on recordings..)

To summarise, the PR Show 13 was a great experience and opportunity to network with industry professionals. As students it is vital to gain as much experience as possible and networking is key in order to build up a contact list for the future. Solent students were the only students (that I’m aware of) that attended the show, which gives us a head start when it comes to the competitive fight for work experience placements. It was a great day and look forward to attending the PR Show 14.

Experience: Client Meeting

As part of the Digital PR module of my course I had to attend a client meeting with my fellow campaign group members. The client meeting was last friday and was a chance for myself and my group members to show Naomi Garrathy, from FiveByFive agency, and Fiona Phelan, from CooperVision, our ideas and main strategy for the campaign.

To start the module off we visited FiveByFive agency in Southampton who focus on digital communications. They set two briefs with the focus of building a digital relationship with consumers. One brief was for CooperVision Lenses and the other for Welchs fruit juice. In groups of 4 we had to pitch to the rest of the course in an attempt to win the brief that we wanted to create a campaign for. My group made up of myself, Paige Hiley, Chloe Attwood, and Trine Larsen chose to pitch for the CooperVision brief, which we were proud to win. After we won the pitch it was time to get started on generating ideas, key messages and the main strategy for the campaign. The brief is focused on developing a digital relationship and driving consumers to CooperVision website.

The client meeting was scheduled last friday (22nd November) as a way of giving us experience in that type of situation, and also an opportunity to share our main ideas and strategy with .. and Fiona. My group was chosen to be filmed and shown to potential students looking to start at the university to study PR. It was a great experience and my group was very proud of ourselves for how well it went. The meeting was more of an informal conversation about our ideas and gave us the confidence to continue with our proposed ideas for the campaign.

Below are a couple of photos of my group during the client meeting taken for the SolentPR instagram page:

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We received some great comments back about our efforts in the meeting and I personally feel that it was a great experience to learn from and to have when progressing through the course.

I hope I’ll be able to get a copy of the video soon, which I will post to show what content was discussed.

If you’re interested in finding out more about what I’m getting up to as part of my uni course then follow my twitter account for frequent updates: @helencummingspr