PR is anything but ‘humdrum’ according to Alexa Ryan-Mills from Burson-Marsteller. Working in the Corporate and Technology practice at BM since September 2006, Alexa tells all below.
· What made you want to work in PR?
When I was at university I worked on the student magazine and absolutely loved it. I got a taste for the media, but realised I’d rather work in a business environment and be creative at the same time. I also wanted variety – I could never have a humdrum job.
· Background? [Home, education, exciting activities]
I was born and brought up in sleepy Cambridge, the eldest of four. When I hit 18, I was keen to get out and explore the world so spent six months travelling around South Africa with a tattered backpack. I then moved to Nottingham to study for a degree in French and English, spending a year as an ERASMUS ‘student’ drinking cheap local wine and not doing very much work. After my final year at university, where I dabbled in a bit of waitressing and freelance writing, I decided it was about time I got a proper job, so moved down to London and joined Burson-Marsteller as a graduate. I’ve been working in the Corporate and Technology practice there since September 2006.
· Coolest thing you’ve done so far in PR?
Getting my client, HP into the FT was pretty cool. Now I sound like a real geek! Getting to travel around Europe for events is cool too.
· Least favourite part of job?
Putting together quarterly coverage books. I’m currently trying to promote myself so I don’t have to do that!
· When I’m 40 I’d like to be…?
Sunning myself by the pool of my luxury villa in the South of France. A girl can dream…
· Top tip for those who want to get into industry?
Too many… Make your CV stand out from the crowd. While you’re at uni, there’s so much that you can get involved in other than dirty kebabs at four in the morning. Organise events, write or edit your student magazine, promote some lesser known student union society… Whatever, doing these kinds of things will teach you skills that you can show off in your CV as well as use when you actually get the job you’re after. Show that you’re interested in the media. You will be asked about it at interview. Also, get some experience in an agency or in-house, even if it’s a small local company for one week. It will prove you’ve got some idea of the job you’re applying for. Finally, be creative about where you apply. Don’t just go for the grad jobs that everyone else is trying to bag.
· Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Think before you speak. I do my best to bite my tongue now, but before I hit my twenties I was terrible.
· If I wasn’t in PR I’d be….?
A journalist… yeh, I know…over to the other side.
· What do you find most challenging in PR?
Juggling clients and journalists – but it’s also one of the things I love best.
· PR hero?
My line manger at Burson-Marsteller, the wonderful Ms Charlotte Greaves!
· Is there an area of PR you never want to work in, if so which?
Financial. I just don’t understand stocks and shares and numbers have always scared me.
· How often do you read blogs? Which social networks?
I read lots of tech blogs for work. I’ve also been using Facebook for over a year now but it’s starting to scare me a bit with all its weird stalking applications. I’m a member of the group, ‘Bring back the old Facebook!’
· Best way to get hold of you? [mobile, landline, email, Facebook, Myspace, text, letter, message in a bottle etc]
All of the above.
· FT or Heat?
C-list celebs drive me insane. Definitely the FT, just not the last half of Companies & Markets. Stocks and shares again.
· Grazia or Country Life?
I’d rather have a bar of Dairy Milk…
· Cameron or Brown?
Brown, but only if I had to!
· Running or the gym?
· G & T or JD & Coke?
G&T. Make mine a double.
· Hagen Daaz or Ben & Jerry’s?
A tough one… Green & Blacks is my favourite. Can I have that instead?
· Caffe Nero or Starbucks?
· GAP or Portobello Rd?
I’ve become a lazy shopper since I moved to London – GAP.
· North or South?
South England, North London.
· If I were to have a film star play me in the film of my life, it’d be…?
Naomi Watts. We don’t look very similar, but she’s such a good actress I think she’d do me justice.