Archive for the 'Is PR for you?' Category

Why I’m in PR*

January 8, 2009

Mr C Reed Esq tagged me into the meme Adam Lewis began.  Advice and thoughts for those looking to get into the PR industry. So I’ll spill my (much enlarged post-Christmas) gut(s)…

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.

Jonny.

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).

Cheers,

Alex

*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.

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PR or digital marketing?

September 14, 2008

Let me tell you a story which reflects something I’ve been mulling over recently

(This is me looking mournful, BTW)

(This is me looking mournful, BTW)

A friend of mine from university has been considering getting into PR over the last year. I was pleased; she’s bright, outgoing and self-aware enough to know what she was getting into (which you can’t always say for Oxbridge grads, where we’re largely tailored to think just of careers in banking, management consultancy, or law). Just the sort of person I want in my industry.

I gave her the benefit of my (limited) wisdom, gave her a few pointers on agencies and approach to interviews etc, and crossed my fingers for her. Recently she sent me an email. She’d accepted an offer. Great, I thought, and entirely unsurprising- if I was interviewing for grads I’d take her on.

Here’s the twist though. It’s not in PR. She’s taken a job with an established and well-known digital marketing agency. Not because she ddn’t like PR. But because she liked social media, and wanted to help clients communicate in that medium.

I’m not territorial or possessive about such things; I don’t really think it matters how you define yourselves  long as you do good work for clients in any medium. But it did make me sad that she’d seen the opportunity to achieve her goal, but it didn’t lie within a PR agency. She’s the sort who will end up at the top of her chosen profession, and she’s the sort we need working in PR. You know, the type of person who dispels the image of PRs as fluffy un-intellectual types flogging FMCG crap, and instead combines a decent academic mind with some human empathy and creativity.

It probably doesn’t matter in the long run, we could both easily find ourselves working in the same agency on the same campaigns as barriers between media disciplines become ever more fuzzy, but for the sake of PR agencies as they stand, I hope we don’t miss out on too many more of her ilk.

Alex

Is PR right for you?

February 18, 2008

I am a recovering PR.

Like most graduates, I left University looking to do something exciting with my life, and the lure of spin, champagne, and forward features was the strongest pull for me. I had dabbled in student media at University and finished up in student politics charging around campus with a mega phone. Corporate Comms (for those who can’t bear to admit they work in PR) was a natural fit for an English and Politics student.

Over a year after starting on a graduate training scheme, I finally admitted to myself that PR simply wasn’t for me. In truth, I knew after a month that PR wasn’t for me but desperate not be a failure at my first ‘proper’ job, I stuck it out for over a year.

If you are thinking about applying or even accepting a job in PR, consider a few things before you start:

<!Do you passionately consume media? I don’t just mean do you read a newspaper every day, but do you read news magazines, blogs, download podcasts and actively engage with new media? You will earn you stripes by knowing and understanding your media channels. A passive interest is not good enough.

< – Do you like to be in the limelight? Are you happy letting other people take credit for your work, safe in the knowledge that you’ve done a good job? Working for a PR consultancy, you will watch clients take credit for your own hard work every single day. If you are good at your job you will earn plaudits from the people you work around. Make sure that’s enough for you.

<! -Is a lucrative starting salary what you are after? PR is rewarding in financial terms after a couple of years but don’t expect to start on the same salary as your mates at Deloitte!

I don’t regret my year in PR one bit, Ultimately my work with digital media led to a job opening with an internet start-up in Soho, where I now head up the Business Development team; a job that I wouldn’t have been able to do a year ago. But if you are thinking about getting into PR, try and get some work experience, or at least arrange a chat with graduates currently in the industry.

The rewards are great, but the work isn’t for everyone.