Check out this CIPR event!

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CIPR Midlands is giving you the opportunity to hear from a range of video content experts who can advise on getting the most from video content.

Not only will you get to hear from Vermillion Films MD, Lee Kemp, and Rob Glass from Flotilla Video Training, but you’ll also get the chance to see a campaign showcase of inhouse and PR agency work incorporating heavy use of video content, as well as take part in an expert Q&A where you can quiz the experts themselves.

What’s more, if you’re a CIPR member, you’ll not only get a cheeky discount (lowering the price to a mere £19.75) but attending will also earn you 5 CPD points!

WHEN: Tuesday, 2 February 2016 from 18:30 to 20:30 (GMT)

WHERE: Vermillion Films – 20 Victoria Works. Vittoria Street. Birmingham B1 3PE

Book at Eventbrite

 

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Let’s get digital (and social) with #MyDigitalCareer

So it’s been almost a week since the end of #MyDigitalCareer 11703358_632840450085757_8939266814298482214_nand I feel its  probably time to put my thoughts to paper (or the online equivalent of paper anyway).

Now for those of you who don’t know – which may well be many of you, the #MyDigitalCareer event (the brainchild of London-based Cloudnine Recruitment) was aimed at providing students and recent graduates with insights into social and digital roles, and advice on how to break into the industry.

At each evening’s talk (as the event lasted five days across a variety of London locations), twenty of the most influential and interesting leaders and practitioners in the Social Media & Digital industries, including: O2 Social Media Manager,1513681_632846740085128_3830231672129821664_n Rachel Kneen; Associate Director at Edelman, James Poulter; Head of Social and Community at The Guardian, Laura Oliver; and Salesforce digital guru, Jeremy Waite, author of “From Survival to Significance” (which I highly recommend by the way), gave us a breakdown of their experiences and insights into what’s important for those looking to follow in their footsteps before taking part in a short Q&A session prior to networking over drinks and nibbles.

I will admit, even before arriving last monday, 11694776_632840490085753_6290195808492707933_nI had high expectations of the event – not least because I knew Ketchum‘s Chief Engagement Officer, Stephen Waddington – who recently judged Behind the Spin‘s National blogging competition (in which I secured joint Second place) – would be one of the guest speakers.

These expectations however were far far surpassed.

As such, I thought it only fair to share with you my top ten key take-homes of the week. So, in no particular order (as they’re all great points to remember):

1) Read! Read journals, read blogs, read up on current affairs within whatever sector peaks your interest. As Jeremy Waite stated on Friday, “It matters most to be informed.”

2) Write; and (perhaps just as importantly) spellcheck. Not only does it demonstrate your interests, your industry knowledge, and your business awareness, but it is also highly regarded by both employers and their clients.

3) Be yourself! Without being loud or obnoxious (I mean how off-putting would that be), be confident enough in your ability to stand in a room and make yourself known for your deeds.

4) That being said, also be very conscious of what aspects of yourself that you present – particularly online where years-old drunken photos and ramblings can rear their ugly heads once more.

5) Pick a path but be ready to move with the times. Knowing what you love and going for it wholeheartedly is admirable after all, but we must not tie ourselves to one way of doing things in case it restricts our future growth. Time always changes things after all.

6) Network. Network. Network. This point in particular hit home for me as almost every speaker stated that every job they’d secured had been recommended to them via their networks.

7) Find a mentor; someone who will support, challenge and prove a helpful sounding board throughout your career.

8) Know that there’s no such thing as a work/life balance.

9) That being said, Learn how to say no, and try to maintain some semblance of one. That, or risk burning out early on in your career.

10) Stay curious. Whether it be about new trends, new tools, or new technology, staying curious will keep your knowledge, industry awareness, and skillset up to date and relevant. It is this (so they claim) that will set us apart.

Top 10 tips for a tip top press release

A staple tool in any PR Exec’s toolkit; the traditional press release is something we are – or will soon become – all too familiar with. There are lots of dos and don’ts that new entrants need to master however to avoid triggering journalists’ pet peeves and get the maximum amount of coverage possible. After spending a day or two considering what would irritate me as a journalist (are therefore the main areas I feel I need to keep in mind as a PR grad), I thought I’d share my top ten tips with you guys on the off-chance I include something you’d not considered. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Contact information

When it comes to pitching and selling in press releases, don’t just leave your email, leave your phone number. Journalists work to tight deadlines and losing out on coverage because you didn’t refresh your inbox in time isn’t going to sit well with your superiors or your clients.

Titles: Keep it catchy

Disclaimer in advance: the title PR’s suggest is very rarely going to ever be used in the final published piece.

Keeping this in mind, the purpose of the title from a PR perspective is to basically grab journalists’ attention and spur them to read on. So, stick the title in the subject box (of the email), cut out the company name and any unnecessary words and you’re pretty good to go. This strategy makes it easier for journalists to establish from the get-go whether they want to keep reading, and (because of this) forces you to get really good at coming up with simple snappy headlines really fast.

Interesting Introductions

The general rule of thumb is to try and keep it under 25 words. When starting a job or internship straight out of uni, this might a tricky task; after all, you’ve most likely spent a solid three years learning how to bulk up your writing to meet word counts. Now you’re being paid to be concise, its a challenge. If your story is newsworthy though, it’s a doable one, so practice, practice, practice and you’ll soon have the technique down.

Who’s your audience?

Consider who would really care about this? Pitching to industry-specific websites/publications who are already going to be interested in your client’s work is going to be far more effective at securing you coverage that blanket pitching to every Tom, Dick and Harry publication regardless of your relevance to them.

Let’s be honest here, if you’re client is a fashion boutique, you’re going to have a MUCH harder time getting them coverage in an engineering magazine unless you come up with a really strong, interesting and relevant angle.

Focus on facts

Facts are important to make your press release interesting, relevant and useable. Make sure to only present information that is true, correct and doesn’t mislead the reader. Forgoe this point at your peril. You will be found out and it’ll not only damage the reputation of your client (which they will not be best pleased about), it’ll also damage your reputation with the media.

Quotes

It’s an industry faux pas to quote people who aren’t available to interview, but aim to include at least one quote in every press release. It gives your client more credence and your story more personality.Without doubt, the more interesting the quote, or the more unique/memorable its source, the more likely you are to get coverage. But!!! Keep in mind the relevance and credibility of the source being quoted. People are going to pay a lot more attention to Alan Titchmarch’s opinion on a gardening product or landscaping company than they are Joey Essex.

A picture tells a thousand words

Supplying journalists and editors with a range of high quality photos that are relevant to your story/client is going to earn you a lot of goodwill. After all, everyone wants your piece to look good in print/online, and a couple of great visuals are going to do just that. Also consider that saving journalists/editors effort by taking the time to collate these images yourself is going to go down brilliantly and is going to go a long way to spurring them to use your piece.

Avoid jargon

Enough said really, but to spell it out bluntly, not everyone is going to understand the techno-babble of your client. Using plain language without the frills is going to open your piece to a wider audience as it means your story is more likely to be understood – both by the reader and the journalist you are pitching to.

Proofread to perfection

Typos and grammatical mistakes are unprofessional, irritating to correct and off-putting to read. Be sure to proof before pitching and clean up any accidental mistakes. Do not rush this stage.

Keep it simple. Keep it snappy. Keep it short.

The whole point I’m trying to make here is that to get coverage, you need to make publishing your piece as relevant as possible to the journalist you’re pitching to, and convenient as possible for them to actually use. So my final tip in this top 10 is going to have to be that you aim to keep it under a page in length.

From my journo training, time constraints and deadlines mean we have to quickly scan press releases to establish whether they are worth pursuing/using, so I know that when working in PR, keeping a press release short and to the point is going to be much better received than something that reads like a bad memoir.

Building your PR portfolio: A cheat sheet for those without the opportunity of a student-led firm

Having a portfolio to take to interviews is a clear advantage for any budding graduate.

Having a portfolio that is brimming with great examples of work is no doubt better.

But when you are a student undertaking a Bachelors or Masters qualification on a course that doesn’t provide the opportunities to participate in a student-run PR firm, building a good portfolio can be a task which is easier said than done. For any student, finding the opportunities to gain experience (not to mention pieces for your portfolios) is a challenge, so I thought I’d put together a post containing a few potential starting points to consider.

1) University departments Every university (especially in the last few years) has made staffing cuts. However few are willing to let these cuts infringe on the quality of their marketing Therefore, is there a department looking to start (or that needs to start) using social media, or one which is actively searching to increase course/event attendees? Consider asking your lecturers or the Head of your course if they know of anyone who could benefit from your services.

2) Campus organisations Every university has a Student Union; a fact which every student becomes aware of after the first week of attendance (also known as Fresher’s Week). The Student Union is student-led (or graduate-led), and organises often bi-weekly (or even tri-weekly) events which require promotion. Similarly, university societies are always seeking to increase their membership and promote their events. Both are of course limited in terms of capital and so are often going to be jumping at the bit for support from someone who knows how to market and promote beyond the basics of Facebook and Twitter. Offer your services for free and use university tools to promote the event, and you’ll soon be both indispensable and with a portfolio brimming with good copy.

3) Small businesses Check out organisations in your area that you like or which have just opened to see if they could use some help. Not only are you building your experiences and portfolio, you’re also giving back to the community and helping support local business.

4) Not-for-Profit organisations Also giving back to the community, you could research local charities seeking to raise their public profile and increase support and/or donations. Create a list of organisations and contact them about the services you can give them, such as creating a media kit, writing press releases, or even improving their social media presence.

5) Public Organisations It’s pretty easy now thanks to the Internet (God bless you, Google!) to find the names of people working in the Communications Departments or Media Teams of public organisations such as your local Police station or Town/County Council. Make some enquiries and see if you can arrange a meeting to discuss whether there might be an opportunity to volunteer or intern within their team.

If they have the space (not all do) and you seem fairly capable of being of use, they’ll often help you figure something out; or at the very least, be able to point you in the direction of someone who can.

When arranging a specific project though, keep in mind that you need to:

  • Set up expectations right away including: what they require of you, how often you will be in communication with them/meeting times, and clear deadlines.
  • Don’t overcommit to work you won’t have the time or energy to do, as it can damage your (and your peers/university’s) reputation.

The main point I’m trying to make is:

A) Be proactive.

B) Think outside the box.

C) Get in early.

Marketing ‘vermin’: Strategies to combat a plague-ridden reputation

sellings rats
Rats.

Not the easiest animal to convince people make good pets, but ones which I’ve found in the four or so years of owning them to be the cheekiest, most playful and surprisingly easiest small pet you could own.

A quick list of their benefits can include:

  1. Unlike Hamsters, Degus and Chinchillas, they’re not nocturnal and so will be awake when you are.
  2. Personality-wise they are a cross between a dog (playful, attentive, loyal) and a cat (wants cuddles/to be stroked, relaxed)
  3. Each rat has their own individual personality that can be developed depending on how you respond/act with them.
  4. Once you’ve gained their trust, they will consistently want your attention/to play/be stroked.
  5. They are very food-orientated as a species. No pet meets ‘the way to your heart is through your stomach’ mantra more than a rat.
  6. They are as clean as cats, especially if you litter-train them.
  7. They eat (or will at least try) pretty much anything (though high fat diet or citrus foods will have negative health effects).
  8. They grind their teeth together when happy (bruxing) and (when really happy/relaxed) they boggle their eyes.
  9. They’re both friendly and independent so bought in pairs or a trio, they will play with themselves when you’re doing other things.
  10. They are ridiculously intelligent. Check out the video below and see some of the many tricks you can teach them.

But, admitting to owning rats as pets does come with some interesting (and occasionally offensive) stereotypes – mainly born out of fear or even sheer ignorance.

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  • Assuming my home is filthy because of their presence?
  • Assuming they carry diseases like rabies and the plague (yes, as in the bubonic plague…which was carried by fleas.. not rats..)
  • I even had one classmate warn me that they could escape and attack me and my partner…

Don’t get me wrong, I can semi-understand why some people might find the tails off-putting, or why some may not like the threat of being bitten; but then saying that, you have a threat of being bitten by any pet if you hurt/upset it enough and the tails… well they’re easy to get used to after a while.

My original and aptly-named ‘Rat Pack’ consisted of five boys which I semi-rescued from a woman living in Sheffield (luckily for me she agreed to deliver them on the understanding that I’d pay petrol costs). Ranging in age and temperament from about 6 months and almost feral (never been handled) to approximately a year and a half year old love-bug, they quickly stole my heart, particularly after one of them suffered a stroke/severe fall shortly after arriving and so spent three days cuddled in my pocket so I could feed him medicine mixed in yoghurt every two hours.

The downside to caring for rats (or any rodent) however, is their short lifespan which averages at about 2-3 years, so my original rat pack are now all what is known as ‘over the rainbow bridge’ ie) rattie heaven.

Houdini (left) and Pebble. My current babies.

Houdini (left) and Pebble. My current babies.

I do however currently have a very licky, very attention-seeking, very food-orientated pair of boys whose faces I couldn’t resist when visiting Pets at Home last November.

*Saying that, I really do not recommend purchasing any small animal from a Pet store, particularly rats, due to the high risk of health or temperament issues that come from those environments – many pet store rats are bred and treated as snake food. Seriously, if you’re a novice or don’t want to risk having to trust train them, buy from trusted breeders; you’ll be saving yourself a lot of stress and hassle.

Very quickly, Houdini and Pebble came home to live – Pebble, named for the colour of his coat and the way he often sleeps (curled up in a ball as if about to do a forward roll), and Houdini who came by his name for the ridiculous speed in which he managed to escape not one but three of the cases I was expected to carry him home in.

Winning over the hearts of those who are afraid or flat-out dislike rats however, is not an easy task. Historically they’ve been a species cursed with a bad reputation, and counteracting the ‘plague-ridden, aggressive, you-will-die’ stereotype is often a task that meets a lot of resistance. People are comfortable in their own world view and questioning that/showing them that a belief/fear that many have held since childhood is false, isn’t always appreciated unless approached with care.

There are five key strategies that I have tried to take in building and defending ratty reputations. These are:

1. Be authoritative

Communicating strongly and knowledgeably goes a long way to making everyone else believe you understand what you’re talking about and that you’re the leader and authority in your area. Conveying your message with powerful, emotive words as well as with conviction will make you more believable and will make your audience more receptive to your message.

2. Be specific

Your message needs to be clear and easily conveyed. In this case, that’s pretty easy given the simplicity of both the subject and the stance ie) ‘Rat’s are awesome and everyone should love them!’, but in most cases, issues and brands can have more complex, more multi-layered connotations and thus need focused and specific communications to be believed by the recipient audience. It’s no good telling someone how great rats are if you can’t explain to the person why you like them and what makes them a good pet.

3. Be consistent

Being consistent when showing pictures and videos that contest the ‘ewwww gross’ mentality reinforces the message and shows people how loving and playful rats truly are without overcomplicating or confusing the issue.

4. Be honest

Every pet (and brand for that matter) has annoying quirks and habits. Being honest about them (they chew anything rubbery or wooden, and will use your clothes to make nests given half the chance) and admitting the downsides (they can smell if not cleaned regularly) increases your credibility and means that when you talk about the good things, you’re more likely to be believed. Integrity goes a long way after all.

5. Be relentless

Commit yourself to getting the positive message out there. People are inundated with a myriad of messages each day and when it comes to rats – lets be honest – the vast majority are not going to be positive ones. It’s not only critical therefore that you try to stand out amongst the static but equally that you are not forgotten. Follow up with people you’ve had past discussions with to reinforce not only your message but also the relationships you are building.

Overall, I’ve had a lot of success.

I mean it’s hard for people to retain the belief in the evil/disgusting/diseased stereotype when they are faced with the grabby-handed puppy eyes of two very adorable fluffballs.

There are of course going to be a small percentage of people whose opinions will be immovably negative. The RepTrak Alignment Monitor, developed by Cees van Riel for The Reputation Institute, measure employee alignment and contribution to the objectives and performance of an organisation. It suggests that although 10% of employees will automatically respond positively to change and 70% respond given adequate persuasion, 20% will remain consistently negative in their response.

The key I think is making sure to reinforce the positive messages I’m promoting to the 80% majority whilst never giving up on winning over that remaining stubborn 20% to my way of thinking – after all, their stubbornness gives me plenty of opportunities for rodent evangelism on a personal one-on-one basis.

Personal Branding cheat sheet

Judging from the conversations I’ve had with my classmates these last few days, not to mention the conversations I’ve had in the past with recent graduates, its fair to say that few are aware of their ‘personal brand’. Admittedly, not many of us have consciously worked on building these brands, but they exist nonetheless. As much as the internet has aided our ability to communicate and share knowledge, so too has it become a digital store of every single thing we say, upload or share – no matter how old or seemingly innocuous it might be – and each one of these help form the way our ‘brand’ is perceived.

Facebook in particular, is a trove of embarrassing drunken club-night photos from our teenage (or, in some cases, more recent) years; photos which, if discovered by a employer or client, can damage our ‘image’ and reputation. The question therefore is no longer IF you have a personal brand, but whether you choose to manage and build that brand or let it be defined for you – both positively and negatively. UYB-Slide1

Being able to trust those that you work and associate yourself with is such a hugely important part of modern business, that to not attempt to at least manage your personal brand, can have far-reaching impacts on an individual’s professional and personal life. Its more than likely that whatever business or organisation you end up working or interning for after graduation is going to be using social media to recruit and source new employees as well as to increase connectivity and productivity. Googling variations on your name as well as working out precisely what your social media profiles say (and don’t say) about you is the first step in gauging what ‘image’ your digital footprint is promoting to your boss.

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After all, people want to do business with other people, not with corporations or ‘brands’, but, saying that, they also want to do business with people they can trust to do what’s in their best interests. As such, personal branding allows you to establish a reputation and an identity for yourself whilst maintaining the personalised level of trust and interaction with clients, employers and audiences, that social media allows.

Just as so with a traditional brand, personal branding requires you to find a ‘signature image’, a unique ‘voice’, and at its height, a particular written standard that readers, fans, and employers can grow to recognise. Once you understand how you want to be perceived, you can start to be much more strategic in building and shaping your personal brand. Below you can find the four key steps to get started in building a personal brand for the creative sector:

1) Cut, edit and paste your social media profiles to perfection

personalbranding

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, even Instagram and Pinterest; Look at what each of your profiles say about you. If your Facebook and Instagram is filled with drunken photos, either delete them, quit having photos taken of you when you’re worse for wear, or make sure that the aspects of your profile that could be negatively misconstrued are made completely private (though you will need to regularly check this as Facebook is notorious for its changing privacy settings).

In the creative sector, Twitter and LinkedIn are professional lifelines, and its important that you come across well on them. You’ll need to professionalise (particularly on LinkedIn) but try to keep some personality to your tweets/posts; after all, nobody wants to work with a robot.

2) Start creating your own content

WORKING

Employers want to see what you can do, particularly in public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism, so blogging is a simple and easy way of building your ‘brand’ whilst honing your professional ‘voice’. The key to this is writing a) about what you know, and b) about what you’re passionate about. For me, that’s communications; which, given my broad spectrum background in Journalism, B2B and B2C PR and my current studies in PR and advertising, has led to my blog covering a range of these sectors to try and demonstrate not only my industry and subject knowledge, but also my writing style and personality.

3) Find a niche and separate yourself from the crowd

penguintie

A strong personal brand is dependent on a strong narrative. If you have multiple areas of interest across your blog(s) and social media profiles, this can dilute your brand. Therefore, the strength of your story becomes even more crucial in creating a unified and consistent theme. Whether this is focusing your work towards a niche audience, such as in the case of Behind the Spin (which focuses on appealing to PR students), or diversifying the focus of your content in terms of discipline, such as, Internal Communications, or sector, such as: Food and Drink.

Finding a niche is something that can be done simultaneously to creating your own content, or something that can come as a naturally forming secondary aspect once you have established an audience who respond and engage with your brand. Personally, due to the breadth of my experiences and academic studies, I have chosen the latter approach as I feel that firstly, building the foundations of my brand as a communications professional is at the moment more important, and secondly, that by measuring the success of each post I upload, I will better be able to gauge the ‘niche’ my audience and writing style best fit.

Its all about what works best for you.

4) Network like you’ve never networked before

networkingExpanding your professional network and engaging with social influencers is now more critical than ever. Whether its professionals already working in your desired industry/sector, social influencers with lots of connections, or simply people in great positions to help share your work, sparking conversations and making contacts is key in helping you grow and promote your brand.

Meeting people at events is great but no matter how you engage, be sure to follow it up either through email or LinkedIn to not only expand your network, but also to reinforce your contacts memory of you in a way that leaves a lasting positive impression.

Never forget to share your story, but be sure that each part of your story is one that is worthy of sharing.

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Skill-building for students: What we need to impress employers

One of my current favourite blogs, the ever-insightful Comms2point0, published a post on Friday by Sarah Stimson covering her perspective on what skills are currently needed for a career in PR; namely: ‘Likeability’, ‘Writing skills’, ‘An interest in media and current affairs’, ‘Attention to detail’, and being “savvy” with social media.

Whilst these areas are of course valuable, I don’t think the article perhaps addressed the nitty gitty specifics. Seeing a gap, I’m intending to fill it with a breakdown of a few slightly more specific things that we students/newbies need to be able to demonstrate when job-hunting – that’s not to say we need all of them however, as agency and role requirements vary to suit their and their clients’ needs.

I’m basing this post on a compilation of suggestions by marketing, journalism and PR academics such as Sheffield Hallam’s new PR whizz, @LizBridgen; DMU Journalism Lecturer, David Penman; and my own experiences facing what employers claim to expect skill-wise in interviews and job descriptions.

Some may be obvious. Some may seem like they’re unnecessary for any but the highest over-achievers. But I believe they all have great potential for being useful not only to initially ‘get’ a job, but also to succeed once in it.

Writing skills

Arguably the most important aspect of a communications/marketing/PR role – It would be idiotic to claim otherwise.

Writing doesn’t always come easy though, and your tone of voice in what you write needs to be adaptable. Creating your ‘personal voice; however is something that only really comes with practice, I find, so specifically, the following will help with that and in building your professional ‘brand’ as it were.

  • Create and regularly update your own Blog. Don’t forget to share posts via Twitter and LinkedIn.
    • Blog and tweet about current media issues and areas.
  • Review PR/marketing/advertising books on Amazon.
  • Write for a local or University magazine.
  • Write press releases and blog posts for University societies and clubs.
  • Write for a student PR magazine such as ‘Behind the Spin‘ or for CorpComms Magazine.

As well as practising and honing your writing skills (including your attention to detail), all of the above can be a way of demonstrating that you have an active interest in media and current affairs that goes beyond just reading Metro headlines on the way to the interview.

Creative skills (for Advertising and Marketing)

Practice. That’s all I can recommend. It doesn’t need to be perfect, you have time to hone your ‘craft’ but being able to show you’ve done some of the following go’s a long way to suggesting you have the creative/innovative and therefore useful approach that employers like.

  • Create a perfect portfolio. Only contain the best of your work; remember your choices are what are ‘selling’ your ability to an employer, show them what you can accomplish.
  • Practice creating under pressure. @OneMinuteBriefs I’ve found really helpful for this even if my attempts are usually notebook doodles rather than cut-past collage masterpieces
  • Draw/sketch/paint/design every day that you have the time. Some may be rubbish, but soon you’ll pick up on ideas and improve time-wise.
  • Visit Museums, art shows, theatre performances. Attend niche music events and watch independent films. Breaking out of a personal ‘bubble’ exposes us to a wealth of creative inspiration that we can use.

Networking

Some of us love it. Many students don’t. How do we get our identities known so we can get that elusive ‘big break’. The following are a few of the ways I’ve come up with for meeting and greeting (within PR particularly). They don’t take an awful lot of effort either if I’m honest. Easy peasy!

  • Join the CIPR (small fee for students, free membership for students of Uni’s with CIPR-recognised courses).
  • Join the PRCA (free for students I believe).
  • Research the agencies you want to work for and the people who work there.
  • Find current agencies and practitioners with personal blogs. Have an opinion! Ask for advice! Give feedback!
  • Follow and engage with relevant people on Twitter and LinkedIn. Comms chats like last week’s #measurePR discussion are particularly great!
  • Create your own business cards. Moo.com is cheap. Make sure to include your LinkedIn, Twitter, Email and Blog addresses or even a QR code.
  • Go to CIPR events and local business events.

Social media savvy

To me, the term ‘savvy’ never fails to bring ‘pirates’ to mind (thanks to a childhood love of Johnny Depp) but that’s probably the one thing I’d recommend not to do. I know it may seem low risk to grab that innocuous torrent but with the way things are going, in my opinion at least, its a silly thing to risk a reputation and finances on. The following however are skills with a potentially giant reward of getting your foot in an employers door, so keep these platforms and skills in mind.

  • Twitter. Enough said. For the few that don’t yet have/use Twitter, have you been living under a rock? For marketers, advertisers and PR execs, this is your bread and butter platform, so definitely make sure you have a profile and engage frequently in conversations with those you want to engage with.
    • Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. Both are great apps for making Twitter a lot easier to manage, Hootsuite is perhaps more commonly used, but I like Tweetdeck’s interface a lot.
  • Facebook. Not chatting to your mates of course, but learn how pages work and how to measure impact and engagement.
  • Google adwords. Research, learn, understand.
  • Learn how to blog using WordPress or Blogger.
  • Understand how to network and engage on LinkedIn beyond its use as an online CV.
  • Do video blogs and host your own YouTube channel.
  • Make use of Vine and learn the best ways to be creative/innovative. Experiment and see what works for you.
  • Learn the marketing potential of Instagram and consider how that relates to what you want to do/achieve.

Technical skills

For me, technical skills is a broad-brush term that includes all of the below plus many more I’m sure I’ve forgotten/haven’t come across. The perhaps annoying thing about web 2.0 is that its forever changing the goal posts BUT, saying that, its also a great opportunity to get really good, relatively quickly at a range of skills. Such as, for example:

  • Adobe Creative Suite, particularly: Photoshop, Lightroom and InDesign. For January only, Skillfeed are offering over 63’000 video tutorials for various software
  • Basic coding. It might seem daunting but websites like CodeAcademy are really simple to use and learn.

General skills

  • Language skills. Set yourself apart from your competition by learning a ‘business’ language i.e. French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin etc. It shows that you’re internationally minded and appreciate other cultures. It’s also a valuable commodity given that in the EU, we Brits are significantly disadvantaged in terms of foreign language ability.
  • Get a full drivers licence. Even if you don’t intend to ever own, drive or be in any way associated with a motorised vehicle, it ticks a super common box in application forms and is a basic technical skill of modern adulthood outside of inner-city London.

Experience

Very simple. Get some. It’s one of those things that shows you’re serious about what you claim to want to pursue a career in, and that you’ve impressed someone else within the industry in the past. Although payment for work is never guaranteed, and the jobs aren’t always the best, here are a few ways I’ve found work well to getting you noticed.

  • Volunteer to do PR for a local event or charity.
  • Volunteer in a local public sector business or for your University’s Media Department or Student Union.
  • Apply for internships here, there and everywhere. Though I’m a huge advocate for paid placements, if you can afford it, then widening your search to include unpaid short placements hugely increases your options.
  • Use your contacts and friends. Everyone knows someone and those ‘someones’ might well have your golden ticket to experience.