PR is demanding, look after yourself! 5 tips to keep you on the straight and narrow

PR is demanding, look after yourself! 5 tips to keep you on the straight and narrow

It’s not surprising that juggling a public relations career with all of lifes other demands can sometimes get the better of you.

In 2015 being a PR executive was ranked the 6th most stressful job that someone can have in America according to CareerCast. In the UK the top ten misses PR off and all the jobs listed are front line public sector roles. This is an interesting insight in to our cultural differences and how we perceive stress.

Although PR may not currently be considered as one of the UK’s most stressful jobs, there are many demands on a PR professional that raise those cortisol levels. Two little words will set even the coolest of PR professional’s pulse racing: crisis management!

Every role comes with its own stresses. Stress comes from pressure. Add this to other life stresses and it can easily soon start to take its toll. Even good things like buying a house, relationships, friendships and trying to hit important life milestones can add to stress levels.

It’s obvious that by burning the candle at both ends it’s soon going to have a negative effect and it is also obvious what needs to be done to prevent stress. However, often we ignore the advice we give ourselves, the things we know we should do.

So here’s a little reminder of five key things that are going to dramatically reduce the damage stress can do to our bodies as well as trying to maintain some balance:

  1. Self support
  2. Sleep
  3. Socialise
  4. Sport
  5. Supplements

Self

Make time for yourself. This is always the first thing to go for me. I completely neglect my hobbies, my blog, my hair, listening to music, reading, my skin routine and other important things that look after my wellbeing. Personal and mental wellbeing is so important and after a long time in the dark it is finally becoming a talked about topic in the mental health arena. Realistically this underpins all of the other points in this list, all of them contribute to your general wellbeing and to taking good care of yourself.

Sleep

There aren’t enough hours in the day. How many times have you thought that this week? In PR we are expected to constantly be switched on and connected. The all knowing and all-seeing client eye! With email and social media at your fingertips it’s hard to put down your phone when you should be winding down for bed. But you must. The blue screen is doing you no favours.

Lack of concentration, headaches and twitchy eye are just a few of the side effect of lack of sleep. Everyone knows a lack of sleep is bad for you, so it’s time to catch some Z’s. Run on all cylinders by trying to get 7-8 hours sleep a day. Everyone’s different, you know the amount of sleep you need so adjust my recommendation accordingly – happy napping!

Socialise

Even if it’s just a coffee catch up, keep in touch with your friends. When I’m stressed I cut myself off from my friends, so I know how hard this can be. I convince myself they don’t want someone around who’s stressed. In reality good friends are your support network and they will be there for you when the chips are down.

A half hour catch up over a cuppa, a Skype call or date in the future to meet up are ways to touch base when you are short on time. Friends are a great support and distraction, they are the perfect way take yourself out of your situation for a little light relief. They will be happy to listen to you have a good old rant and they will have a few ideas of their own about how to keep the stress monster from the door.

Life is about balance, being with your friends is really good for you and your wellbeing.

Sport

It’s easy to drop the ball on getting to the gym, heading out on a run or doing whatever sport you’d normally do when you’re in the office late or working weekends. However, exercise releases all those great happy endorphins and can totally change your mindset. I find I get my greatest ideas and work through all my problems when I’m working out. Afterwards everything becomes clearer and allows me to put it all in perspective. At the moment I’ve definitely dropped the ball on this one, so last night I combined catching up with friends and going to a new trampoline park that’s opened in my city. Not only did I get a full on bounce-based killer work-out but I also got to see my friends. Win!

Scheduling in even a small amount of regular exercise is going to benefit your mind, your body and your immune system.

Supplements

Ensuring that you eat well will help to combat stress, your diet is unbelievably important. For any dietary advice or for anything medical please go and speak to your Doctor. They study for a really long time and know their stuff and are the best to give you advice if you are struggling physically or mentally.

Although I eat my five a day, I have a hectic lifestyle and a low immune system. So I make sure I take a good multivitamin to help support my body. The fitness rhetoric doesn’t change, eating right, drinking plenty of water and all those other things you read on those aspirational fitness blogs and websites are all important to make your body work right. So make sure you’re fitting in your five fruit and vegetables a day!

These five points aren’t new but they are an important reminder of the key elements to try and keep some work life balance. Now I’m off to bed to try and implement my own advice and balance my busy life!

 

Converging Careers Conference 2015 at Southampton Solent University

Converging Careers Conference 2015 at Southampton Solent University

 

Almost exactly a year ago, in 2014, I was a student and I graduated from the PR Masters degree at Southampton Solent University.

One year later and the situation had reversed, rather than sitting in the lecture theatre ready to take notes, I was the one giving the talk. Talk about a one eighty!

I was invited back to speak about the way PR, advertising and marketing are starting to merge together to form a hybrid and to explain the necessity of having a wide skills set that cover these fields.

This blog is what I took from the conference, my perspective and what I found valuable. Livi Wilkes, from Solent PR, has already shared all the golden nuggets of information about employability in the following two blogs, which are definitely worth a read:

SSU Converging Careers Conference Part 1

SSU Converging Careers Conference Part 2

My journey has been a long one, with many experiences which has contributed to where I am today. it sounds cliched but it’s true. That experience wasn’t invalid, I just wasn’t aware of that until recently. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?!

I think, for me, it was also important to show other people who are about to enter a creative industry that the path isn’t always smooth and straight. It’s not easy to open up about struggling. I had tried so hard to get in to PR through various means and although at times I felt I was never going to get there or that I was on the wrong path, I never gave up. So coming back to my university and being able to relay my journey and where I am now was really exciting.

When I was there I met one of the 2015 graduates from the PR Masters and she shared her feelings with me via Twitter, and it was a reminder of how powerful face to face interaction and social media can be. Remember that you aren’t alone, it’s ok to be ‘lost’ sometimes and to take the road less travelled. Not everyone is living that glossy life they so readily portray to the world on social media. Not everything comes easily. Most of the best things don’t come easily. Trust your intuition.

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Catherine Sweet, my wonderful lecturer and mentor, opened the conference by explaining the changes in the industry and why they were important. Her career in PR/Marketing/Advertising/Marketing/Politics is incredible and she has topped it off with lecturing at Southampton Solent University passing on her knowledge.

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Steve Woodgate, Solent University MA Graduate and Marketing Manager at Microsoft UK, who was the first guest speaker advised the attendees at the conference to ‘be a squirrel, gather nuts of knowledge’. This struck me like a lightening bolt. I had been a squirrel, foraging, learning and gathering nuts of knowledge along my journey.

A varied set of skills will make you more robust and ready for any future roles.

He also identified four sub-sets of characters within the creative industry:

  • The Scientist
  • The Storyteller
  • The Socialiser
  • The Strategist

Steven said you would predominantly be one of these characters and that it would be helpful to identify which one you were so you are able to identify your strengths. I completely agree with him, identifying your strengths is very helpful but I think that some people may cross these sub-sets.

The last major thing I took from Steven’s talk was that he said:

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“Digital is more significant than the industrial revolution. We just don’t know it yet.”

I was up next and I had to rapidly overcome my public speaking fears (and the monster cold I had!).

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I used my journey, examples of other people journeys and current client work to show just how important a varied skill set is and what I had learnt along the way. The time flew by and soon I was back in my seat not knowing what just happened, hoping it went ok.

Thankfully I had some positive feedback after the talk and some really lovely tweets!

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Following my talk was Dr Emma Wray, the new head of PR and Communications for Southampton Solent University. She was engaging and told us about her incredible experience (just ask her about working at the BBC during the Olympics!) and the changes she is seeing to the PR and communications industry and how we can adapt to survive them. Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 22.36.50Emma also had some top tips for those about to enter the creative industries…

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Caroline Barfoot, from Solent Creatives, concluded the talks with a focus on getting work experience and freelancing. She drew attention to this years John Lewis Christmas campaign and it’s multi-faceted nature.  She also made the point that ‘at the heart of everything is the consumers. Products only work if the consumer wants to use it.’ This phrase is great to take with you throughout your career, remind yourself of it to keep you focused and critical when working on projects.

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After the talks the conference was divided in to two to debate current PR topics. I helped panel the debate which questioned the valued of earned and shared media. It was really interesting to see what a cross section of the current university students studying creative topics and a number of business people thought. It was concluded that there is value in a combination of the both earned and shared media. A lot of emphasis and importance was placed on being critical of the source.

It was a great day and I was honoured to be invited to take part, honoured to be able to give something back and honoured to represent the company I now work for. I am lucky to work for a company who can see the value in giving back and leading the field. I am extremely thankful to Catherine Sweet for believing in me and guiding me through my Masters and to Lee Peck Media for giving me the opportunity to work in PR and to experience a converging career!

Venturing down the rabbit hole of job-hunting…

Venturing down the rabbit hole of job-hunting…

I can’t believe it has been two weeks since I got my results. I now have a Masters (with Merit!) in Public Relations. I am still in shock but it’s finally beginning to process and I am bursting with pride. Holding down a full time job and a degree though definitely took its toll and it was time for a break. Beautiful Barcelona has so much to offer. If you like architecture, art and epic amounts of sea food then it’s the place for you. Although don’t forget your walking shoes, we covered over 40 miles in four days! However, I am now back and ready to start my hunt for employment.

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The magic fountains of Barcelona!

Many of you will be in the same place, whether you have just graduated, are looking for your next stepping stone or a new career altogether. It can be pretty daunting. There are so many places to look that knowing where to start is half the battle. It’s been a while since I had to properly look and as always things have evolved. But, the old faithful’s are still there.

  1. The Linked In job section has vastly improved making it easier to actually use the network of connections you have built up and apply for jobs directly. You also see a lot by being part of relevant industry groups, monitoring the main news wall and setting up bespoke job searches. Fantastic.
  2. The world of recruiters has expanded, specialised and now contact you via Linked In. Being actively sought out makes the job hunt that bit easier as they have already matched your skills to roles they have in mind.
  3. It is now much easier to be direct. Contacting the company directly in person or by phone, via their website, snail mail or social media have all become easier. For the PR’s reading this remember to be creative in your approach. It’s a creative industry! Beat the monotony and stick it to the black and white cookie cutter CV if you dare! Just look at one of my previous blogs to see the extent applicant’s are now going to, it may alter your perspective of what a CV should look like.
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Creative CV’s to catch your future employees eye!

Asking for advice and feedback is the quickest way to improve gas it’s the most appropriate for the industry you want to go in to. So many people having been giving me advice on my CV and covering letter and all of it is different. They may not be wrong but they can conflict. Remember it’s subjective and everyone’s opinions are different.

Now I’m no expert, but I’ve done my fair share of job hunting, asking professionals, consulting CV and covering letter experts and I have also hired my own team once many moons ago. Although I may not be able to comment on some of the finer details here are six basic golden rules to get you started:

  1. Get expert advice from CV professionals or people in your industry. Your CV and covering letter should constantly be under review. (But remember it’s subjective- so if you’re not feeling it ask for a second opinion or a third!)
  2. Scrap the unsupported statements. Back everything you say up. It’s no good saying you’re a team player without some sort of example to support it. I mean you could write anything then…I’m a space cowboy with four Oscars who majored in graphic design, law and quantum physics whilst simultaneously running for Prime Minister. Err…like I said use examples of your work or experience to back up your claims. What? Where? When? How?
  3. How are you going to help the business? Remember, this is not really about you. This about the company and finding someone who is going to earn them lots of money or save them lots of money. Unfortunately in our crazy capitalist society it really is all about the money, money, money!
  4. Proof read your CV and covering letter. If the language is not your first, or your grammar isn’t the best, get it checked.
  5. Have a tidy digital footprint –no employer wants to see your drinking escapades, your pet cat fluffy or your pouting/gym selfies. Google yourself, what can you find? Be thorough!
  6. Keep it concise and relevant because their time is valuable (as is yours!). Your CV should be two A4 pages maximum. Covering letter should be a couple of paragraphs, maximum one A4 page. Adopt the American philosophy – time is money!

 

I’m looking for CV and covering letter advice for the PR industry. If you are in a position to give advice about the specifics of PR CV’s and covering letters and want to share your knowledge then please do. It would also be interesting to hear how other people have got their jobs, and any tips or tricks to landing that dream role. If you have any links, advice or experience then I’d love to hear from you – get in touch via the comments box below.

Good luck new job hunters!

Knock ’em dead CV’s

Dreaming of ‘that’ job? Want to catch a companies attention?

Well this is one of the ways to do it…
Recently Leah Bowman applied for a vacancy with this…

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WOW. I mean WOW! I wish I had thought of this. There is a new trend evolving for creative applicants to stretch their wings out of the old times new roman, monochrome trappings of the traditional CV and to play in to their strengths…the design world. This is just one in a long line of incredible CV’s that are starting to come to the attention of the media and spreading like wildfire through social media. It’s about time, isn’t it? Too long have we had to fill out endless forms and adhere to strict formatting. Who came up with such a rigid CV format anyway?

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Leah Lego, an interactive application!

What’s even more incredible about this is Leah put all this effort in for an internship. Not even a full time, salaried, benefit giving vacancy. Unfortunately we do not get to see where she sent this application to but I think they would have been mad to not offer her a proper job.

If this is a sign of the future of applications…Viva the CV revolution!