Now that the College of Arts and Law’s Creative Careers series has drawn to an end, it seems like a good idea to compile a few of the words or wisdom that I took away from one of the events. The PR and Communications event took place on the 28th February, and I was very keen in being one of the first to put my name down for it. The guest panel included four speakers from different PR backgrounds. Zara Free, a Graduate Account Executive from Willoughby PR – a Birmingham based digital PR agency, Isobel Rowley, Senior Press Officer at National Grid – the UK’s largest utility company, Kirsty Mack, head of Stakeholder Relations at our very own University of Birmingham and Christine Arthur, Managing Director of McCann PR here in Birmingham.
‘PR is about reputation and what you say and do. It is used to gain trust between organisations and its publicises and anyone who wants to join the industry must be able to communicate, influence and persuade.’ – There is often a considerable amount of discrepancy and puzzled faces when thinking about what PR actually is, so this was a very useful overview of the industry.
It would be almost impossible to try and cover all of the advice, tips, job descriptions, roles and ideas that the guest speaker’s put forward to the audience, however, there were a few specific points that were stressed by all of them. Along with an interest in media and current affairs, good organisation, time-management and communication skills are an essential set of skills to the job. Christine Arthur stressed that there are three key elements; strategy and planning, creativity (brainstorms/new ideas etc) and ultimately, PR is a service, which involves working and engaging with people. Although these are the necessary skills, they also develop and improve with practice. It was also commented that PR is not a risk-free business, which is where thick skin comes in handy.
When it comes to applying for jobs or work experience in PR & Comms, you need to be persistent. Sell yourself into the agency/company like you would if you were selling a story to a journalist. Know the company and what it’s been doing, look at the recent campaigns, find them on social media sites and get to the heart of the company. It was also suggested that short CVs are an advantage.
All in all, the event proved to be a fresh and fascinating insight into the career path and into the life of a successful PR. A buzzing job that is full of variety with no two day the same, this is a career I am eager to pursue.