“Are you lost from your ball pit?” – 3 PR industry health and safety tips

Are you lost from your ball pit?” I was asked this question by a PR professional (I won’t name and shame) after they pointed out how young I am. It didn’t really affect me at the time but it got me thinking about how young PR pros can stand out when entering the industry. Here’s my advice when breaking into the world of working in PR:

found: http://pixgood.com/path-cartoon.html

1. Know what sector you want to work in: Having completed two PR placements in two different sectors last summer I have noticed a considerable difference between how day-to-day PR processes are handled. My first placement, being a creative digital marketing agency, was very laid back and the office was often filled with jokes and banter. In contrast, my second placement, being a corporate and financial consultancy, was more formal and conversations about the news or business scandals were the topic of choice over lunch break. This isn’t to say that one is better than the other, but to highlight the importance of knowing what sector you want to enter as a PR junior as each is suited for different types of people.

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2. Plan and plan and plan again: Planning your career path is the easiest way to work out what your PR dream really is. I created one for my Employability and Work Placement unit last year and what I have realised is that nothing is set. Your plan is yours. It can change at anytime to coincide with your ever-changing dreams. I also realised that even though your plan will most likely change as you grow within the PR industry it is still important to write down your career aims. By doing this you can position yourself within a certain sector or even with a specific organisation and you can prepare yourself for working within that environment.

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3. Dress for the job you want: This may sound a bit obvious but looking presentable is so important when making first impression in the industry. You won’t be taken seriously as a PR professional if you turn up to an interview or networking event in jeans and trainers. I recommend finding out what the dress code is before attending as digital agencies are often laid back have a more smart casual dress code compared to corporate where a suit is necessary.

 

If you’re a student trying to break into the industry then I’m sure you’ve already been told to do these things but I hope I can highlight how important they really are.

Key thing to remember: It might be intimidating to begin with but PR juniors are the future of the industry. Shake off negativity, learn from rejections and make your career the one you want it to be. 

It’s the end of 2nd year, already

The end of term deadline panic is over and along with that the second year of my degree. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad about that. I’ve got only one year left and no doubt that will fly by just as quickly due to the non-stop dissertation work I’ll be doing.

It is certainly a relief to have handed in all my assignments so I can now focus on my summer work placements and my part time job. I have already received an assignment grade back and I was very happy to have achieved a 1st for my Solent Creatives freelancing portfolio. I put a lot of hard work and effort into this project so it’s great to have gained another 1st under my belt. Although second year has officially ended, summer has not yet begun (and that’s not due to English weather, for once). I have now started the first of two summer internships within the PR industry. Working longs days on placement mixed with part time shifts in retail is extremely tiring, but the fact I still have the motivation to get up at 7am each morning to gain important experience proves to me that I have chosen the right career choice.

Keep an eye out for my next post to follow, which will be about the experiences I’m gaining and the fun I’m having on placement.

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.

A Month That Passed in a Second

The aim of this post is to give a brief summary of some of the exciting things I’ve been up to since returning to uni in September. It’s been a while since my last post due to the manic blur of returning as a second year student. The return to uni has been rushed and stressful but of course, it’s been great.

The first month back for second year passed so quickly, it was october before I knew it. And now it’s November! Time is just whizzing by and the assignments are starting to pile on. The first 3 weeks back at uni were very calm and everyone had that fresh spring of optimism in their stride. 4 weeks in and that had well and truly disappeared.

So here’s a quick timeline breakdown of the first 2 months back at uni:

1st and 2nd week: Assignments are set and the routine of lectures sinks in

3rd week: FiveByFive agency visit

4th week: Group meetings start and assignments start to come together

5th week: Tim Leroy, Marketing Director from Novatech – guest speaker

6th week: Lemon Squeezy freelance guest speaker

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I just want to mention how good the visit to FiveByFive agency was during week 3. FiveByFive is a local PR and communications agency with a focus on digital media. They set our brief to us which we later had to pitch for. The meeting was a great success and the whole course looked very smart and on form. Here’s all of us waiting to go in and get the meeting started. (I’m second in on the right)

The freelance guest speaker from Lemon Squeezy is coming up tomorrow which is very exciting and a great opportunity to find out about freelance work and compare it to the agency environment we’ve already seen at FiveByFive.

I’ve got a few ideas for a couple of blog posts that I want to do soon and will try my best to find time to get them posted. I’ve now managed to get myself a part-time job alongside my studies so I’m lucky to have more than a half day free. This ‘adult’ thing is hard work!

‘Annoying’ Gets Noticed

Everyone knows that to get noticed you have to stand out but just emailing a company over and over again won’t cut it anymore. It’s all about personality.

I remember when I had to do a 2 week work experience placement during year 10 at secondary school and it was pretty much seen as a 2 week holiday from school. At that age I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career, I’m pretty sure I had my heart set on being an estate agent or something. It certainly wasn’t seen as a chance to gain much real-life experience, unlike university placements. Of course many students chose retail placements like Boots and New Look in the hope that they would get part-time jobs afterwards, but not me. I chose to work for 2 weeks at CrazyUdder milkshake shop, which later lost all its income and closed down. I learnt nothing from this placement as I spent the whole time either mopping the floor or sat waiting for the floor to get dirty.

However, as part of my course I have to complete 2x 2 week placements during next summer and I know they’re going to be fast-paced and a lot of hard work. There will be hundreds of students from many universities fighting for placements in the best agencies, especially within London, and everyone will be trying to stand out in some way or another.

You know how there’s always that one kid in your class who never shuts up… Not in a naughty way but in a clever and intimidating way. They’re always the first to shout out the answer and they always get it right… Well that’s who you need to be. Whilst everyone else is sitting back not wanting to answer or not wanting to volunteer to give an example, you need to be the one who does because then you’re the one who’s going to be remembered. Being the know-it-all may be annoying to the rest of your course mates, but then again the rest of your course mates all want the same job as you and you’re the one who’s going to get noticed. That’s the main lesson I’ve learnt from my first year of university, not to make friends with everyone and not to go to every party but to know what you’re talking about and talk about it with the right people.