Solent PR Graduate Conference

Last Thursday (6th November 2014) was the first ever Solent PR Graduate Conference organised by my course leader Sally Holland. The day consisted of industry expert speeches followed by a networking lunch.

Having just started my third year of university I am being given many opportunities to meet with potential future employers. However, I must say that it is rather scary to be able to attend ‘graduate’ conferences as it feels like first year was only last week. The day began with an introduction from Sally Holland and a brief outline of how the day would run. The keynote speaker was Ilona Hitel, MD and Founder of CommsCo with a talk about how to get and keep a successful career in PR. The main piece of advice that I’m positive most of the students will take away from Ilona’s speech was that ‘It’s all about work experience.’ Ilona also offered tips of how to get noticed by using creative applications, such as a video CV.It was interesting to here how Ilona carried out a Google search of Solent University before coming on the day and found that that latest story was of a drunken Solent student getting her head stuck in a bottle bin. ‘You are only as good as your last google result’ says Ilona when raising the importance of what we have on the internet that potential employers can see. Another piece of advice given from the founder of CommsCo was to know the news agenda and said “Journalists will only respect you if you understand a good story and are not just interested in getting your clients in the press.” ILona’s speech was full of useful advice for all PR students across the 3 years of the course.

Tomasz Dyl, founder of GottaBe Marketing was the next industry expert to share is experiences and advice with the cohort and told the inspiring story of how he started his PR Agency at the age of 17. The agency grew into GottaBe Marketing and Tomasz emphasised the opportunities available through LinkedIn when it comes to future employers. He said that it is important for us as third year students to identify which agencies and/or companies we want to work for after graduating and to start connecting with them via LinkedIn. He also pointed out that it is vital to give the person a reason to accept your connection by telling them a bit about yourself and why you think you would make a good connection for them to have. Tomasz shared with us that the most rewarding part of working within the PR and Marketing industry is seeing your work and the good that it’s doing.

Beth Ansell founder of Lemon Squeezy was up next to deliver her speech about what it’s like being a freelancer. Beth is a graduate from Solent herself and is only four years ahead of the current final year students on the course so it was good to see how much can bee achieved after graduating. The key points that Beth mentioned were being able to have control over your work timing but having the pressure of working until it’s all complete. She pointed out that as a freelancer there isn’t any other employees that will pick up the project and complete it for you. Being a freelancer sounds tiring but Beth pointed out that being your own boss means you can take afternoon naps whenever you like, which i’m sure has convinced many students to potentially take the freelance route.

The next industry expert to speak was Emma Hazan from Hotwire who gave advice about how to stand out and get the job you want. Emma is a great communicator and gave an inspiring presentation giving tips on first impressions and how to sell yourself.  Emma was very confident and it was clear that communicating with others is a key strength of hers and she emphasised the importance of knowing what you’re good at and to build them into a personal brand for ourselves. Own the room was a good piece of advice given from Emma as first impressions are important to future employers.

Mark Stretton, MD, and Michelle Williams, Account Director from Fleet Street Communications were the final industry professionals to speak to the Public Relations students, where they gave inspiring advice about how ‘you can really effect change through trade PR’ (Mark Stretton). Michelle discussed how it’s important to decided which PR path is right for you, however, don’t be afraid to try other paths. Mark told the group how he started Fleet Street Communications four years ago with only 3 people and how it has grown. For many students travelling is a big factor for their career choice and Michelle explained how bigger agencies could often give employees the opportunity to travel abroad to head offices in places like Dubai, Florida, and Hong Kong.

All of the industry professionals provided inspiring stories about their experiences and useful advice tips for us PR students trying to gain graduate job offers. It was good to see the students actively tweeting about the event and using the #PRconference to gain awareness of the first ever Solent PR Graduate Conference. The day was a success and a great opportunity for all of the students that attended. The talks were followed by a networking lunch where students could ask the experts questions and make professional contacts.

Here are some photos from the speeches during the day:

Ilona Hitel, MD and Founder CommsCo

Ilona Hitel, MD and Founder CommsCo

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Beth Ansell, Lemon Squeezy Marketing

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Emma Hazan, UK Deputy MD Hotwire

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Mark Stretton, MD, Michelle Williams, Account Director, Fleet Street Communications

E-book in a day – Solent Success

On wednesday 26th March Solent university students took on the CIPR challenge of creating an engagement themed e-book in a day. The e-book will consist of different chapters that look into different areas of engagement within PR and evaluate how successful the engagement from the day was. The e-books aim is ‘to put the public back into public relations’. This is the first time that anything like this has been attempted and I am very proud to say that I was able to take part of it as a Solent student and become a co-author of the e-book.

A mixture of 2nd and 3rd year students got together on wednesday 26th March 2014 to work in teams that would be managed by a MA student on a mixture of courses. Each team were set to cover a chapter of the e-book each, which were made up of Networking, Crowdsourcing, Co-creation, Gamification, Curation, Visual Mashup, Face-to-face/Voice-to-voice, and Measurement & Evaluation. P2P PR is a new term created for the e-book that stands for Peer to Peer PR, highlighting the aim of generating engagement through all PR people.

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Solent University: Faculty of the Creative Industries

All of the students got the opportunity to pick which chapter they wanted to work on with consideration of what their key skills are. I chose to join the Visual Mashup chapter as I felt I could contribute my social media and networking skills and experience to the team. The goal of the Visual Mashup team was called ‘Life in a day of a PR person’, which meant that we needed a visual representation of what PR meant to people. The teams aim was to generate engagement with PR professionals, agencies, lecturers, and student through social media platforms, such as Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

 

 

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Steve Waddington (CIPR president) giving an opening speech)

After an opening speech from Catherine Sweet and Stephen Waddington (CIPR president) an ice-breaker session started whilst the groups were joining together. From this we moved onto the delegation of roles within the team. Specific members of the team were assigned to manage certain social media platforms, such as I was delegated to work on the @ebookinaday Twitter account alongside Marta García-Urgelés. After each team member had been assigned a platform to manage we got started with generating engagement. Myself and Marta began tweeting PR professionals and agencies through a database of contacts that had been gathered through networking. To begin with we weren’t seeing anybody responding with a photo that sums up PR for them. We received a lot of new followers to the account as well as retweets and favourites but it wasn’t until about an hour in that we started to see agencies start to respond. Ketchum and MSL_Group responded with excellent contributions of their visual representations of PR to them. After these big-name agencies started to engage with the project we saw many others join in as well.

After we had generated an impressive amount of engagement through each social media platform, the team began to work on writing the content for the chapter of the e-book. We had roughly an hour to compile all of our findings from the day into a short chapter that was focused on Visual Mashup as a means of generating engagement. Here is a photo of team Visual Mashup:

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Visual Mashup team photo

The day was a great experience and I am very proud to have worked on such a unique opportunity for Solent students. Below is a video of Steve Waddingtons (CIPR president) conclusion speech with 3 useful tips for the students. (Please forgive the terrible recording quality due to snapping it on my phone)

After the busy day of creating the e-book, many students then participated in Meet The Professionals networking evening at the university. I was pleased to have the opportunity to attend this event and I managed to gain some useful contacts through networking, some of which will be great contacts for my dissertation research. Overall, the day was long and tiring but definitely a great experience and an opportunity I got because of Solent’s efforts towards integrating the students into the industry.

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.