Category Archives: PR

Getting an internship in the creative industry

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A lot of people have asked me how I managed to rack up so much experience in the PR industry.  So I  thought I would write a “straight to the point” blogpost about it. I hope the tips I have below prove to be useful!

1) Networks – Being part of the Taylor Bennett Foundation alumni has opened me up to many networks. Jobs and internships has been sent exclusively to the trainees and alumnis which has helped. Joining a PR group on linkedin for example could be a way of you making your own networks in the industry. Also, people who I have had interviews with have referred me to other agencies where they feel I may be more compatible, which leads me to my next point…

2) Keep in touch with people you have met throughout your job search. Doing this through Linkedin is the easiest. You may not have gotten the job but they may prove to be incredibly helpful when it comes to advancing your career.

2) To stand out, I made a visual Cover letter using prezi. Recruiters and potential employers are usually impressed with this because it shows creativity, passion and initiative.  Create something unique enough to grab their attention.

3) I used social media to search for jobs that may have not been posted on Indeed for example. I used keywords such as #Prjobs, pr intern, pr internship etc to find people and agencies who are looking for interns via their twitter. This way, there’s less competition for those positions as opposed to those posted on Indeed. I also search through Linkedin using specific keywords.

4) Although speculative applications have worked the best for me, I never sent it to the typical jobs email address (e.g. jobs@somethingpr.com). I usually found an employee from an agency or company of interest that is around mid management level through linkedin, work out their email and personalise my cover letter and CV directly to them.

6) Sometimes all you need is a bit of luck. The more time you dedicate to your job search, the more likely that luck will be on your side.

Finding an internship can be hard but keep at it, don’t give up and you’re sure to be rewarded with worthwhile experience. Good luck! 🙂

Professionalism

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According to Merriam Webster, professionalism is ‘the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person’. The Oxford Dictionary describes it as “the competence or skill expected of a professional’.

It may seem obvious to those who have been in the workforce for some time what professionalism is, however it is still a topic of debate. Some people say professionalism depends on the industry and also, the culture and values of the company. Others would say that how you display professionalism remains the same in all companies, sectors and industries.

Previously, although I hate to admit this, I have made a few mistakes when it comes to displaying professionalism however, I definitely see its importance and I have markedly improved. So due to my experiences, I feel that I am able to give some tips on how PR graduates going into their first job can show professionalism.

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1) I think a love of the industry and the skills required to succeed in it is very important. If you don’t enjoy writing, reading and the media, then you can either teach yourself to as it’s a must or try looking into another industry that fits your skills and interests better. 

2) It is a requirement to keep on top of current affairs in the PR industry. Do you enjoy being current with world affairs? Do you know what all the national newspapers in the UK are? Do you know which papers are right, left or neutral? It is important to understand your media and know what is going on around you. I have made a media list on Twitter as it has made it easier for me to keep current. Also, I try and listen to the Today’s programme and watch Question time as often as possible. What do you do?

3) Although enthusiasm is important, it is not enough. It is imperative to go above and beyond to prove your passion for PR and communications to potential employers. For example, I am a member of the CIPR and through that I am able to keep up with the industry through PRWeek and Communicate Magazine. I keep up to date with PR news by regularly visiting websites like Gorkana or PR Examples. I also try and attend as many networking events as I can. I have read books such as “How to get into PR” by Sarah Stimson and involved myself in a training session organised by CIPR. I have also joined professional LinkedIn groups like PR Daily and PR Professional. Are you doing enough to get yourself that dream job in PR?

4) Research the company. I think it is rude to go into an interview and not know what your potential employer does and whom their clients are. At the very least, go on their website. The graduates likely to get the position are the ones who went far and beyond with their research. For example, they found out who their interviewers are, looked through their social media accounts to find out their interests and researched the PR campaigns the agency has created for their clients.

5) Dress appropriately for the interview. This could be smart business dress or casual smart depending on the agency or company. You can find out the culture of the company by research as mentioned above.

6) Be kind and polite. You will be remembered for your kind manner and it may contribute to the process of getting your first job. Even if you get rejected, sending them a ‘Thank you’ email and asking for feedback will help you with your future job search and may help get you a job with that particular company in the future.

7) Show your personality. Be yourself. It is the best advice anyone can give.

8) Practice those skills mentioned in the first tip. Write a blog to showcase to interviewers as a professional portfolio, read newspapers regularly and open up social media accounts and use them frequently. This will help drastically.

9) Be on time to every engagement. You don’t want to be seen as that person that’s always late. It will put you in good stead with potential employers and colleagues.

10) Always go into a PR interview with at least two examples of your most and least favourite PR campaigns to discuss in the interview. It shows you know what PR is about and are following up on the industry.

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I honestly think following these guidelines will help considerably. Not doing so will mean it may take you a long time to find your dream PR job. Even if you do, continue showing professionalism, as networking is a key part of the PR industry and it will help when building contacts with journalists and potential clients. Not being professional could lead to you being fired from your job, wasting money on a campaign or even worse, losing a client.

So like Dizzee Rascal once said (or rapped) “Fix up, Look sharp” and good luck on your job search. 🙂

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Ethnic Diversity in PR.

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In 2011, the PRCA PR Census revealed that 92% of the industry was white, with only 8% of PR practitioners being from an ethnic background. Two years later in 2013, hardly any change had been made with 91% of PR practitioners being white and 1% of professionals in the PR industry each being black British and Asian. This is clearly not reflective of modern British society, where over 14% of the population are of BAME origin. With limited ethnic representation, this can only be detrimental to the PR industry as it won’t be as easy to engage the growing BAME community in campaigns.

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The first time I saw these statistics, I was shocked. Although I was aware of the PR industry being very competitive, I didn’t realise that the difficulty is enhanced for someone like myself. There are some reasons I have come to the conclusion of why this is. First, many ethnic minority parents particularly from West African and Asian backgrounds, are not aware of how lucrative a career in PR can be. In fact, most don’t understand what PR is. They expect their children to pursue more well known careers such as doctors, lawyers and engineers as those are the jobs that can bring respect to the family, household and community. Another reason is that a majority of internships are unpaid. It is huge shame as it restricts the majority of people coming into PR because they are unable to afford this luxury. In my personal experience, although I come from a background that is far from rich, I have been fortunate enough to have had some support from family. Also, in my unrelenting pursuit for a career in PR, I have willingly made major sacrifices and was prude enough with my finances to save enough money to support myself and take on unpaid internships for a limited time. Although, my situation seems drastic, there are people that don’t have others to support them so have to turn to other industries that will pay them.

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With 40% of the population in London alone being of an ethnic background, it is important for brands to understand their customers and client needs so they are able to determine key messages and communicate them to the relevant stakeholders effectively.   A workforce that represents this number helps resolve possible barriers that can occur when communicating to certain stakeholders.

Some schemes and programmes such as the Taylor Bennett Foundation, TFL’s BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) press office internship and the PRCA’S diversity group network are currently doing something to battle this problem. However, the PR industry needs to do more more in tackling this problem.

Writing styles in PR application forms

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ImageRecently, whilst applying for a popular PR graduate scheme, I came across the following question:

Please write a blog that delivers maximum impact on: “If you were leader of the Opposition how would you make the case to win the next election? (In no more than 200 words)

In all honesty, I had no idea how to answer. My initial reaction was to write a funny piece but I fretted over whether this would be appropriate for the culture and style of this particular PR company. I was not sure if they wanted a serious answer or they wanted my personal take on the question.  I even took the time to search through several blogs on the right ways to tackle this perceived problem, although they all gave me conflicting answers. After much research, reflection and thought, I decided to take a risk and write a totally unconventional and slightly weird answer. I wrote:

First, I would offer the masses free popcorn at anytime and anyplace during my tenure in power. According to a focus group consisting of two people (a very legible amount), popcorn is likely to be a deciding factor when swaying the public in an election. A last ditch effort, this would only occur after my political advisers and I have tried and tested every rational communication strategy possible. Through this action, I am showing the public that I’m fun, unique and likely to bring a different approach in government unlike my boring and less creative opponent.

If in the unlikely chance that ‘Operation Popcorn’ does not bode well with the people, then I will do what I think Gordon Brown should have done and study presentations and speeches led by great speakers such as Barack Obama and Steve Jobs. I would possibly hope that their charismatic aura robs off on me, so I can then sway the election to my favour with my newly acquired supercharged charm.

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 I know you must be thinking it’s strange, right?

 They did not ask the applicant to write a serious piece so I decided to take a chance. Although I can write in different tones and styles, this particular way of writing comes natural to me and I concluded that it’s probably a great way to showcase my personality to the employers.  In the PR industry, writing is deemed one of the most important skills needed and I resolved that as long as they can see that you’re a great writer and you’re not  using any obscene language, then you are within the means and rights to write in any style you like without it hindering your application progress.

Pizza Hut’s & Doughy Essex recent campaign

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Whilst browsing through PRExamples.com, I came across a very recent campaign that Pizza Express is participating in. Enlisting Joey Essex to help, they have created a rather crazy promotion to celebrate the 45th anniversary of one of their staples, the Dough Balls. Joey Essex, former star of The Only Way Is Essex and popular member of the latest I’m A Celebrity… series, was painted gold to launch the brand new competition where two authentic gold balls worth £5000 each, can be won.

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Dubbed ‘Doughy’ Essex for the campaign, he proclaims “January’s always really depressing so it’s nice that someone going out for a pizza or picking up some Dough Balls for dinner on their way home might win gold – that would be amazing.”

The latest campaign allows one lucky visitor to find a Dough Ball covered in edible gold amongst their usual order, which can then be exchanged for a solid gold version. Also, ten edible gold-covered balls will be hidden in special packs of Original Dough Balls, available from selected supermarkets, which will entitle the winner to a year’s worth of free Dough Balls.

 

Known for his clean-cut image, boyish charm and childlike behaviour, Joey Essex has become a well-sought after ambassador for several brands, especially after his popularity soared from his stint in the I’m A Celebrity series. It’s no wonder Pizza Express chose him for this notably silly campaign, as it goes along well with his image. I can’t think of any other celebrities apart from the Jedwards who would suit this campaign even though they are not currently relevant in the media.

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Furthermore, Joey Essex mentions, “I’m really surprised that Dough Balls are so old – they’re my favourite – and the Sloppy Giuseppe pizza. I always get it because ‘Giuseppe’ means ‘Joe’ in Italian.”

Pizza express are known for their celebrity filled campaigns. Model Jodie Kidd and singers, Jamie Cullen and Sophie Ellis-Bexter has been some of many involved in their campaigns. PR campaigns using celebrities as a brand ambassador, are a popular way to get a message across and increase brand awareness.

Overall, the PR campaign is quirky, making it newsworthy and easy to place in the major tabloids. Seeing Joey Essex painted in gold would delight his fans and also allows the media to form a story surrounding the images. It also gives Pizza Express the exposure it craves.

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