Archive for the 'Working hours' Category

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.   

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The 8 hour day?

July 3, 2007

Last weekend I sat down with a friend who is a fast streamer in the Civil Service and explained why I hadn’t been able to meet for ‘that after work beer’ as I had promised to do months ago. To my utter incredulity, my so-called friend replied that he had been offended that it had taken me so long to get back to him considering my ‘PR lifestyle’. 

PR is an industry that desperately needs some of its own communications advice. Most of my University friends (Lawyers, Management consultants, Teachers etc) imagine that I roll into work at 9ish (hung-over) and leave again at 4.55 for the next party. Another friend asked me last week how I got any work done with all the ‘schmoozing’ that I must do?! 

Maybe it’s just me? Maybe the rest of my contemporaries within the industry are passing through their graduate schemes through a haze of coke (zero or otherwise) and champagne? But if they are, I wish they’d stop, because it’s giving the rest of us (who actually put in the early mornings and late nights) a bad name. 

Is there an average amount of time a PR work week is expected to last? Does it differ between financial and consumer? Maybe the ‘PR’ lifestyle is more associated with in-house roles rather than us agency folk? 

Air kissing aside, it’s time for PR graduates to reclaim the PR stereotype type cast by Joanna Lumley, and in true PR terminology, get the key messages out. 

PR is a great industry to work in, is more interesting that anything my friends do and after a couple of years, PR is as well paid as even the most glamorous of careers (apart from maybe Law!).

Career anxiety or genuine grievance? I’d be interested to hear the opinions