1) What is the one piece of advice you would give someone entering the world of PR?
Join the PR and Comms Network and get involved…
But, ‘words of wisdom’ rather than practical tip, I’d say make sure you actually enjoy either communicating yourself, or the concept and world of media itself. Because if you don’t it can be pretty grim. After all, the pay won’t be as good as the big money careers, the hours will be long, and you’ll find the core tasks dull.
Ask yourself if you genuinely enjoy sharing things with people etc? This is the real value having an extensive online presence has; it demonstrates you are already voluntarily doing what you would do in the day job. You don’t have to be the gregarious type, however. A real interest in media itself will shine through- I read newspapers religiously from the age of 13, have always devoured magazines, read books heavily, followed news sites in more niche areas of my interest like rowing… You get the idea. Reading the Independent’s media section used to genuinely interest me long before I was even thinking about what job to get.
2) The favourite part of your job?
This is both incredibly easy and fantastically hard to answer. It’s the fact I literally never do the same thing day on day, week on week, month on month. (OK, status reporting etc aside). If I can be cheeky and add a second, it’d be the opportunity to be both creatively and commercially minded. very few careers offer that.
3) Why did you decide to go into PR?
I was struggling to decide whether to continue in academia or earn a crust. As much as I (genuinely) would love to have become the world expert on the mid-15th Century Earls of Northumberland, I wasn’t sure I could handle years in the library with every chance of having to get a job in ‘the real world’ at the end of it.
I also really wanted to work in communications. How normal people of the period connected in their social structures would have been the aspect of North East Medieval life I tackled, and communications seemed like an opportunity to put all the conceptual stuff I thought about so much into practice. Obviously there was a bit of a difference, with 15th Century peasants not being all that literate and so on…
I was probably initially very sceptical about PR. I had connotations (as many do) that smart people worked in planning, and fluffy blond bunnies worked in PR. Certainly not intellectually heavyweight self-important people like me. To be honest there are plenty of agencies or in-house roles which would still fail this test for me. i want to shape communications, not just do press releases. Thankfully the Fishburn Hedges grad scheme blurb in the Inde media section made me think “these people seem to think about communications like I do”. The talk about behaviour change through media, stakeholders etc really struck a chord with me. The idea that you didn’t just cover the newspapers with your story and assume that would make people do or buy what you wanted meant you needed to apply the thinking about channels for people to connect in the same ways I did for my precious illiterate and oppressed historic Northerners. I came to meet some Fishburn people for interviews etc, and never looked back. I was going to get paid to combine the things I was passionate about; studying how people interact, consuming media, and mooching around online. If only I could go rowing on company time, my life would officially be complete.
I’ve always vividly remembered a piece I read (Sunday Times I think) when doing a paper round aged 13/14 about Matthew Freud. His job sounded amazing, his life pretty cool, and I thought “that’s what I want; a huge national paper doing a huge feature on me and my company, all because I understood how people behave and interact through the media.”. What I thought then probably hasn’t changed much, as modest as I like to appear…
Anyway, this turned into a rather lengthy ramble, so I’ll shut up and tag some people to continue it.
Jaz Cummins (especially now she’s got an interesting sounding new role).
Dom W (although I did recently get him to do one, and he has been tweeting his grumpiness lately anyway, so will understand if he doesn’t fancy it).
James (to write his thoughts here too. This is also a not-so-subtle attempt to get him to pull his finger out and fill up this blog too).
*Don’t really go in for all that “I’m a strategic mixed-channel communicator facilitating engaging conversations between multi-faceted inanimate and animate objects of social cohesion and disjuncture, optioning totally transparent networked relationship structures, in the post-modern and neo-liberal model”. PR will do as a catch-all term, even if I’d like to think most of us do more than the narrow traditional definition.