Emma’s Beautique is Capital FM‘s annual beauty event on the south coast. It brings beauty brands together to showcase the latest trends in make up and skincare and it’s presented by Capital breakfast host Emma Jo Real Davies.
I went from being a guest to a panelist Emma’s Beautique, a Capital FM beauty event, in the blink of an eye.
The annual Meet the Professionals event at Southampton Solent is a valuable networking event for students. This year it was in the newly completed Spark building and attracted a much bigger crowd.
It is a fantastic opportunity for Southampton students studying public relations, advertising, marketing and creative subjects to see what’s available in the local area, network and pick up valuable advice.
This week I had the amazing opportunity to go back to Southampton Solent University to lecture about what PR students should expect on their placements and how they can maximise the opportunity while they are there. I wrote about the lecture on behalf of Lee Peck Media:
Placements, internships and work experience are all part and parcel when it comes to getting onto the PR career ladder. Having experience continues to be an important pre-requisite to entering the PR industry. It’s the chance to impress, network and find out what the industry is actually like at the same time as adding vital skills to a CV.
In 2015 alone the amount of placements rose by 10.2 per cent, according to a survey of leading employers by High Fliers Research. Although employers are offering more opportunities the number of applicants has also increased with some roles attracting thousands of candidates. In a competitive job environment experience can provide the edge required to beat off those other candidates for that sought-after first job.
This week Lee Peck Media’s Rebecca Henderson was invited by Southampton Solent University to give a talk to second year PR students about being a PR account executive and what to expect when on a placement.
“Embarking on a work placement or PR role for the first time can be a pretty daunting prospect whether you are fresh from graduating or not. Having some relevant tools and advice before starting will help you stand out from the crowd and impress your potential future employers, which could help you land your first proper PR job,” said Rebecca.
Rebecca undertook placements at a number of different companies at the start of her career, including time at the Clinique press office and the communications team at Hampshire Fire and Rescue. Here she shares her top five things to expect on placement:
Admin – This may not sound like an integral part but this is the bread and butter of PR and what justifies our work. Media cuttings, reports and keeping plans up to date are an important everyday essential that, if not done properly, will catch you out later down the line!
Press releases – Practice, practice, practice! Don’t feel down if you get critiqued; use it as a valuable learning experience to improve. Remember your managers will have been writing for years, so don’t be disheartened.
Events – Be prepared. Carrying around essential tools, i.e. stationary, spare press releases and contact details, could avert disaster and prevent you from missing that important PR opportunity.
Selling in to journalists – Get that telephone manner down! Use your charm, wit and guile to hook a journalist on to your story.
Be ready to learn – Ask questions and get involved. There are some topics like budgets and crisis management where the best form of learning is from others on the job. Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you can learn why that’s the approach to take in that instance.
Rebecca added: “All these tips will help but your attitude matters. It may sound obvious but be proactive and enthusiastic. You’d be surprised by the amount of people who don’t and how much it matters!”
I’ve owned this blog for 3 years and never posted anything. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip. The other day I was reminded of this fact by a Word Press email wishing me a happy anniversary. Oh dear. How could I not have written anything in 3 whole years? No posts. No writing confidence. No engagement. And I want to be a PR practitioner? Gee Whizz.
On the 26th March 2014, I helped to create an ebook in a day. There are 8 chapters and all the PR Masters students had to pitch to win their chapter from the client and then pitch to gain undergraduates on to their team. This was tough. I had never pitched before. I created something silly; thinking that even if it didn’t work at least the person reading and watching the pitches would have a giggle. But, much to my disbelief, it did work and it engaged. I got the chapter I wanted to work on: Co-creation and attracted 7 students in to the team. Phew!
45 people squished in to Solent Creatives to start what we thought was an ebook but turned out to be a PR movement. It taught me so much and sharing is caring after all, so here are the things I learnt from the ebook in a day…
Sounds simple, but without having organised my chapter it would have been a disaster. There was so much to think about. It was about half way through the day that I was thankful my lecturer had insisted on a Gantt chart as it had got the old grey matter in to gear in advance of the event. I was prepared and it took the stress out of an overwhelming workload.
Being mean is not my style, but I insisted my team came a whole hour early as our demonstration I had arranged depended on invitations and engagement. We needed a good solid start. Thankfully the team showed up and it made a world of difference, especially when other barriers came in to play.
Don’t Trust Technology
This is one of those pesky barriers I’ve been talking about. 45 students in a small space tested the University WIFI to destruction. It failed four times over the course of the day and this seriously would have hampered our progress had my fantastic team not turned up early.
Imagination and Innovation is Powerful
The other students, staff, lecturers and industry practitioners were incredibly inspiring and creative. The ideas and advice they offered on the day blew me away. Working in an environment like that made me better. In sport they always say that if you train with people who are better then you raise your game to their level and in this case it was most definitely true.
Social Media, is Social, so Get Involved!
I had never seen a multi-platform event from the ‘other side’ before and it was amazing to see every team obtaining high levels of engagement from only one days worth of effort. Sometimes I get fed up with the endless streams of content being chucked my way from social media, but when it’s focused with a proper stakeholder salience strategy applied it can be highly effective and engaging. It can start a conversation, a project or even a movement!
Be adaptable: from MA to Manager!
Personal challenges can come in any form. I have managed teams before, but it had been a while. So off came my student hat and on went my manager hat. How do you engage a student team who are not being assessed on a project? Food. It’s always a winner. The key here, know your audience! I even had some really lovely thank you’s…
However despite all of these lessons it was the final parting comments of Stephen Waddington, president of the CIPR, that inspired me to finally break my silence and post this, my very first blog post.
He offered 3 tips for ‘making it’ in PR:
Get on Twitter and build relationships
Network and build your profile on LinkedIn
Blog, this is important, it showcases your skills
Stephen made it sound so simple and through the experience of the PR masters I think I finally have the confidence to write. So here I am.
Here’s my pick of other blogs about #ebookinaday:
Stephen Waddington – Early lessons from the #ebookinaday project at Southampton Solent University
Lisa Duygu – Ebook in a day, a project, an event, a challenge, a success!