Archive for the 'Recruitment' 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.


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.


Fishburn Hedges 2009 grad scheme opens

January 2, 2009

I don’t normally plug stuff from my own agency, but as this one is hopefully helpful to some grads out there who are probably feeling pretty nervous about the job market at the moment, here goes…

The Fishburn Hedges grad scheme 2009 is now open for applications, with two intakes in April and September. Applications for the first intake to be in by the end of this month. You can read all the details about the scheme and the agency on our site, but I guess the best thing I can say about the scheme is that it made me the consultant I am today. (I hope that is taken in the positive sense intended!). It is a different experience to what’s on offer at most agencies and you can tell how much we rate it by the fact so many of us ex-trainees are still knocking around here. Check out the video below to see most of us, for a bit more info, and for David’s chronic dancing at the end.

Feel free to drop me a line with any questions (, although the contacts on the trainee page should be your contacts for anything specific.

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.


PR Recruitment; separating the fact from the fiction

March 6, 2008

First up, I don’t have a direct personal insight into the world of PR recruitment. Sure I’ve met lots of recruiters in the industry, many as a result of the PR and Comms Network. On the whole they seem like a pretty pleasant bunch. Surprisingly so for people working in a sector wiht a viciously negative reputation. [Hmm…pot and kettle?]

But I haven’t actually used the services of one. Fishburn Hedges managed their grad recruitment internally when I applied, and I’m still happily in my now comfortably worn-in desk. But talking about the experiences of looking for that second job [or indeed first job for those who do go through recruiters], I’ve come to dwell on just how opaque the average PR job ad is amongst the less elevated ranks of the sector.

So you’ve got 2-4 years experience, say. Sure those statements about a track record of delivering coverage apply. And if they don’t, ask yourself what you’ve been up to. But the more grandiose requests for unrivalled journalist contacts, experience of organising multi-national campaigns, and the personal phone numbers of many world leaders [I might have made the last bit up], seem a tad unrealistic.

So that’s what you want the recruiters to do. Cut the crap, and turn the foggy pool of job descriptions into a shimmering pond of insights, and you can confidently decide that yes, you really are the chap/chapess for the role. I very much enjoyed the following post [via Drew B], which provided some much needed clarity on social media job descriptions, which are more guilty of obfuscation that most. A bit like that last sentence, social media jobs in partiuclar seem to have an ordinate amount of grandiose claims, with little realistic hope of finding the mythical individual.

Who knows. Maybe recruiters like Sarah hate these poor job descriptions as much as the applicants? Or maybe they are the cause? But how about we start asking for the real requirements of AEs/AMs etc? i.e. Good organisation, genuine interest in media in all its forms, good communication in all its forms, and a positive approach. Not rocket science, and we’d all be winners.