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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Mis-communicator of the week: Beyoncé

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‘Beyoncé has had a rocky few months’ quotes Edward Staite, founder of Staite Communications. In his article for PR Moment, he branded her the mis-communicator of that week. Mind you, this was in April 2013, rendering it slightly irrelevant now as it was almost a year ago. However, as an advocate of Beyoncé’s legacy (a position I’ve placed myself in as a long time fan), I must defend such extreme comments.

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Everything that the author mentioned did take place, however if it had happened to Rihanna or Miley Cyrus, this set of occurrences would have been deemed laughable. Since it was Beyoncé, who is known for her squeaky clean public, it was seen as an outrage.

Yes, Beyonce may have mimed through President Obama’s second inauguration ceremony (although claims have been made she was singing along to the pre-recorded track). To be given such a once in a lifetime opportunity, she should have positively taken advantage of it but as noted in Stalte’s article, she more than made up for it in her Superbowl performance in January 2013. The public praised her especially through social media and everything was well with the media’s portrayal of Beyoncé. This was until she banned press photographers from her ‘Mrs Carter’ world tour after unflattering images from the Superbowl event surfaced. She also asked for these images to be taken down from websites and blogs through her publicist.

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From keeping her personal life private to the revelation of her pregnancy, Beyoncé’s brand has always been carefully constructed and to some extent, built on superficiality so this shouldn’t surprise people, whether they are fans or not. Based on this, I really don’t think that Beyonce was mis-communicating anything at all. Also her star power is so big that those moments would be described more as ‘minor mishaps’.

In regards to the image scandal, as a fan, I would have advised her to leave the unappealing pictures alone as she is only human and it is nice to see that side of her especially since she always comes across as ‘perfect’. However, as her publicist, although the wrong action may have been taken, it may have been wise to act upon the release of those negative images as it was not in line with her delicately assembled public image.

Starting 2014 with TBF

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In my opinion, I have had a successful 2013.

Not only did I travel to Asia on my own, graduate with a great degree and pass my driving test but I had the opportunity to intern at BBC Eastenders (which I will talk about in an upcoming post).

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Exploring Albert Square

An amazing year indeed.

2014 is going to be even better. Although I do have plans to interail around Eastern Europe, my main goal is to focus on my career. As many of you may know, I have a major interest in PR and that is what I am currently pursuing. During my university studies and sometime after, I have been partaking in internships to further my skills and get my foot into the PR industry.

Just a few days into the new year, I was lucky enough to have been selected as a PR Trainee for the Taylor Bennett Foundation in association with Red Consultancy.

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At the TBF offices.

Taylor Bennett Foundation is an independent registered charity that delivers a 10 week communications and personal development training programme for minority ethnic graduates, made to strengthen their skills and provide them with industry relevant work experience.

I am only finishing my first week of the traineeship and already I have learnt a vast amount. I’m confident the next coming weeks are going to be very interesting!

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The 6 lucky trainees

Travel plans..

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In all honesty, I have no immediate travel plans. Which leaves me the question of what I should do with my blog?

Originally, the purpose of DamiWanders was to allow me to plan and successfully execute my dream to travel around South East Asia. I also used it as a way to help others who may need some tips regarding their travels. Now that I’m back in England and I have another goal (career-related), travel is currently the last thing on my mind. Mind you, I find myself longing to explore more of the world when I look through my pictures and videos. Sometimes, I realise that I’m either going through information about backpacking through South America, looking for internships in China or applying for AuPair positions in New Jersey. Actually, I do miss the spontaneity, freedom and interesting people that travel brings…

So, ok, its not the last thing on my mind. It’s at the forefront especially when applying for graduate positions. My interest is peaked when I find a role that may include some travel. In some cases, its all I need to read before I enthusiastically apply for the position.

So what’s next? I don’t know, we will see. One thing I am definitely sure about is I will continue with this blog and that travelling is the only cure available in keeping the travel bug I’ve caught at bay :).

From Bangkok to Ko Tao

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Over the past couple of weeks, I have been doing something I never thought I would have done whilst planning for the trip – exploring the Thai islands in the south. The original plan was to go to Chiang Mai in the north but as predicted, plans change.

In my accommodation, a few people I had met said they were going to the full moon party which was on the 25th and I ended up tagging along. Through a travel agent in Bangkok, I booked a bus and ferry to Ko Tao, costing 1150 baht. After two nights in Bangkok, myself and a lovely girl I met at my accommodation set off to the island at 5:30pm. The journey took approximately 15 hours as there was so much waiting around in-between the buses and ferry and we didn’t arrive till about 9:30 am.

Once I arrived in Ko Tao, I took a taxi costing 100Baht (which was extortionate) to my pre booked accommodation where I met a mixture of strange and lovely people. I found the islands are a lot more expensive than the mainland however, I justified the price due to how much fun I had. Ended up staying in Ko Tao for four nights where we climbed steep hills, laid on lovely white beaches and partied a lot. It was definitely an island I enjoyed as it caters for everybody and a place I would  love to go back to in the future.

 

Whilst in Ko Tao, we pre-booked our accommodation for Ko Phangan, a nearby island where the full moon party is celebrated monthly. This is where I would be headed to next with the new friends I made.

Arrival in Bangkok

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Its been a week since I’ve arrived in Thailand now and I’m having the time of my life!! So much have gone on in so little time…

On the day I arrived, I took public transport from the airport in Bangkok (City line train) and when I got to the last stop, a taxi needed to be taken to my accommodation. Even though there were many around, it took me nearly 45 minutes to take one as I was requesting they turn on the meter because they were trying to charge me upfront triple the normal price. Finally caught one with the help of a nice Thai guy and arrived at my destination (the place was at Khao San road). Immediately, I got in I had no time to rest. I met some cool people and got invited to a ‘ping pong’ show which I thought was actually a table tennis competition. Turned out to be a sex show with women taking blades out of their vagina and using it to turn water into coke… it was surprising to say the least. On the way there, we took tuk tuks which we ended up racing each other with and afterwards, we went to a bar and spent the rest of the night there getting to know each other. It set the precedence for what was to come. I have been having such an amazing time since.
I’m currently in Ko Tao right now, one of the gulf islands in thailand, on my way to the full moon party which is on the 25th of May. I had absolutely no intention to come here let alone spend a total of 4 nights but everybody in my accommodation seemed to be going so I followed, something I certainly don’t regret.
Ill definitely keep updating more regularly and keep you posted..
There’s so much to say..!!
ps uploading from my phone so expect a few mistakes