Archive for the 'Starting out' Category

Alex Pearmain interview – Flawless Buzz

March 28, 2009

I’ve always liked Adam Lewis’ Flawless Buzz blog chronicling his quest for his first job in PR. Today’s post has to be his best ever, though. (Ahem- self-promotion over-drive).

In between the bad banter hopefully some points of passing interest for students/people looking for jobs in the industry, based upon my experiences when I was starting out.


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.

Starting out like a PRO

August 22, 2007

As plenty of eager grads gear up for their impending start dates, some timely comments from two of the UK’s big PR hitters.

David Brain noted his surprise at young PROs attitude towards their careers this week. Colin Byrne added his thoughts on young PR’s, having been prompted by the annual exam results fuss.

It seems both are in agreement about some aspects of what constitutes a good PRO- enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Where they appear to differ, however, is over specific knowledge. Whilst David advocates breadth and flexibility, Colin highlughts specific sectoral knowledge. Not neccessarily contradictory points, as the two are not mutually exclusive, but interesting to note the difference in emphasis nonetheless.

On this occasion, however, I’m going to give the closing words to a pretty big hitter of his time; Aristotle.

“All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind”

Well quite.

Putting PR theory into practice

July 20, 2007

Apologies for the delay in the post, Alex and Alain had asked me to post two weeks ago, to give you all an insight into my first few weeks in “grown up” PR… But it’s taken me until now to have enough time to sit down and actually write something!

So I’m 5 weeks into my new job – and I love it… And I’m exhausted! Life as a PR grad in London is brilliant, but more tiring than I ever could have imagined. I have to admit I expected to be sat next to a scanner with a pile of coverage and told to scan to my heart’s content for my first few weeks… I certainly was for my first few weeks on placement, and naively I expected all entry-level PR roles to be the same.  

Five weeks in, I’ve heard the phrase “baptism of fire” more times than I can count, worked a 19 hour day, taken two of my potential 25 hours worth of lunch break, choosing to eat’n’type in order to get through my ever-increasing ‘to do’ list and been involved in several big events. And I really love it. It has made me realise quite how much I missed working in PR. Nothing beats the buzz and atmosphere of a lively PR agency or office. I thrive on the adrenalin created by looming deadlines for my 4 clients and as I juggle my seemingly precious little time, I’m very quickly learning to prioritise in order to make sure my accounts aren’t over / under serviced and already time spent away from my phone and computer feels like wasted time.  

And whilst the early starts, late finishes, going into work on Friday with a hangover (I’ve also learnt that Thursday night is so the new Friday night) all are a little bit of a shock to my student system, the biggest adjustment comes in the form of the London Underground. Not the over-crowding, stuffy-ness of the world famous tube, not the endless delays due to the wrong kind of humidity on the line, not even the intimidating police presence currently at every station. But “tube etiquette”. 

Understanding that the man who just elbowed me in the head to push past onto a space that really was rightfully mine on that over-crowded tube, probably does deserve the space as he clearly is much more busy and important than I am. Or the fact that even though the lady says it every time the train comes to a halt, it really is important to push your way onto the train before that elderly / pregnant / disabled woman has a chance to dismount.  

Now I’m not new to the tube, in fact in the days B.W. (before work) I regularly visited London for football games (a Spurs fan for my sins) or nights out or shopping or generally to admire our great capital. But I’ve learnt that one’s experience of the tube is divided into three categories, Commuter, Tourist or Inhabitant. Those who are London born and bred have it mastered; they know the right carriage, the right time and the right tube to ensure a relative trauma-less journey around the capital. The Tourist experience involves hovering between the doors as they begin to close, as they still work out if they’re on the right one, loudly telling their friends, family and all around that “it’s just X more stops” every time the train pulls into a station, studiously reading the map on the tube station wall as if they know what they’re looking for, before giving up and just getting on the “Pick-a-chilly Line” as it’s bound to take them to the tourist hub of our capital. As for the Commuter experience, this is dependent upon your length of service. Some fall into the Inhabitant category as they have been in London long enough to know the tricks of the tube, others might fall into the Tourist category, stumbling between stations still trying to work out if they’re heading in the right direction. And then there are those of you, who like me, know what you’re doing and where you’re going but will never cease to be amazed at the trauma the tube can cause. Not enough to ever put me off coming into the capital, but enough to guarantee the dread in the pit of my stomach on a Monday morning is nothing to do with going to work, sickeningly I still love getting up on a Monday for work, no the dread comes from the thought of the Piccadilly line at 8.15am – otherwise known as hell on Earth. If I have to see one more “chancer” getting his head / bag / suit jacket stuck having raced toward an already closing door I’ll scream. Similarly if one more tourist poses for a photo in the ticket gates at Piccadilly Circus on Friday evening, preventing anyone else getting through to their jam-packed train I think I’ll go mad.  

Any tips on how to quickly cross into the Inhabitant phase and to become ignorant to or accepting of those less informed tube-users would be very gratefully received! Beyond the tube, I am thoroughly enjoying my new working girl status, I’m very busy, I’m hugely stressed, and according to Government statistics I’m very much underpaid, but I really do not care… I’m enjoying every minute of it.   

So, you want to get ahead?

June 25, 2007

Harold Burson, of Burson-Marsteller recently blogged  his advice, [based on many years and dollars of PR success], with his top tips for young PRs starting out.

I also recently read Ogilvy’s ‘Confessions of an advertising man’. Despite being written several decades ago, about a separate discipline in the marketing mix, there was lots of relevance for PR. One piece that especially stuck with me was his advice for young execs. He recommended you keep your head down for the first year, spending your time mastering the area you were working on, until you would be ready to replace your manager due to superior expertise in your area.

The advice from both of these phenomenally successful individuals clealry overlap on the importance of knowledge. Burson advises reading, and never being short of awareness of a topic, and it is this perception of the deeper issues at stake which allows PRs to offer useful insights into how best to communicate a client or organisation’s messages and reputation.

It’s just the beginning…

June 1, 2007

Louise Orr is a final year PR student at Bournemouth Uni, who has just sat her last exams.  

So I have officially finished university. Forever. And as the hangover clears following a brilliant celebration and farewell round of “pub golf”, I’m getting very excited about what is on the horizon.  

The last four years have been a real rollercoaster, with the high points far outweighing the low. My BA (Hons) Public Relations degree at Bournemouth University has prepared me for what will hopefully be a long and prosperous career in the industry, and I’ve made some amazing friends. I do think that regardless of your opinion of PR degrees, I could not be more ready to go into the industry; I’m excited about the challenges that lie ahead and feel like I’ve been planning this day for months.  

As I left the exam room yesterday lunchtime, it hit me that I’m no longer a student. The initial excitement turned into apprehension as one era ends and I stumble into the next. But after a little reflection and a supportive chat from my housemates I realised that this is far from the end. Firstly, most of Bournemouth University PR students are now winging their way to London, so there is bound to be a few familiar faces on the tube each morning, but also because the end of my degree signals the start of the rest of my life.  

Having been in education for 18 years, I’m now stepping out into the big, bad world with life experience from university that I doubt I would have got elsewhere and with the confidence in my chosen career path to know this is what I want to do for the foreseeable future.  Personally I have overcome a lot of challenges, and I learnt so much from my industrial placement year that I’m now excited to put four years of very hard work into practise.  I have 11 days until I start my first “grown up” PR job and I can’t wait. Those 11 days provide me with just enough time to recover from this awful hangover, clear out my university house and get everything in order for the next stage of my life. This morning signals the end of an era – and the start of something amazing. And it’s very exciting. (Or at least it will be when I recover – all suggestions on how to cope in the rat race with such awful hangovers will be greatly received! I’m definitely retiring my pub golf clubs for a while!)