GET INVOLVED in blogging! Behind the Spin’s #BestPRBlogs competition launches for a third year!

Blog yourself a job!

Autumn has officially hit and the new academic year is about to launch itself in earnest, bringing with it all the lectures, seminars and assignments that become the staple features of our lives as we strive towards the best possible grades we can manage – after all, its those grades which are going to be the deciding factor in getting us a graduate job….aren’t they?

I’d actually argue that its in fact the ‘extra-curriculars’ which set you apart from your peers and get you that all important foot in the PR door.

Don’t mistake my meaning; securing a decent qualification (especially one that you’ve invested a considerable amount of money and time in) is of course important in showing people that you know what you’re talking about. But, saying that, in my job-hunting experience at least, my grades (despite being good) were always only a MINOR part of what grabbed employers’ attention when it came to my applications.

Instead I discovered (admittedly to my shock) that it was my social media presence and in particular my blog that secured me my interviews and, eventually, my role at London-based agency, Houston PR. I know that my position at Houston in particular was gained in this manner as I was invited to interview via Twitter after Managing Director, Hamish Thompson, read through some of my posts.

However, what my interviewers and employers may not know is that without Behind the Spin‘s annual ‘Best PR Student Blogger’ Competition, I might never have stuck with my blog long enough to fall in love with writing and appreciate the ways that my own unique ‘voice’ can break through the noise.

My love for blogging is by no means unique however, as last year’s winner, Livi Wilkes (whose blog ‘Live, Love, Laugh PR‘ was commended for its “honest and engaging” writing style) shared this love claiming that:

“I blog because I love it’… …’ being recognised so highly for something I love doing is such a lovely feeling!”

So what IS #BestPRblogs?

Offering aspiring PR students the opportunity to learn, practice, build their networks, and promote their expertise within a lively community, Behind the Spin’s contest now enters its third year of highlighting the best blog posts written by UK-based PR student bloggers.

Keep in mind:

  • It doesn’t matter if your blog has all the fancy bells and whistles that make it visually perfect.
  • It doesn’t matter if your posts are written as an assignment or in response to something topical you’ve seen or read.
  • It doesn’t even really matter if you don’t manage to write something each week (though the more you post, the more chances you have of being chosen as a weekly winner.

The important thing is that you are interested in what you’re writing about; that you have proofed your work before publishing (Typos never look good); that you use social platforms to promote and try to build a community around your work; that you reference the source your images/videos if they’re not ones you’ve taken yourself; that you use relevant hyperlinks when appropriate; and (without sounding ridiculously cheesy) that you have fun – after all, it’s enjoying the experience that makes it easier to type out the cacophany of brilliance in your head.

WORKING

Each week, PR academic and Behind the Spin‘s Editor, Richard Bailey, will browse the #bestPRblogs and #PRstudent hashtags, and collate a selection of the best blog posts written by UK-based PR students (plus the best photo taken by a PR student (usually taken from Instagram)).

Weekly winners will be recorded in an ongoing leaderboard which will determine the final shortlist of talented writers announced next April. These five bloggers will then be given just four weeks to polish, edit and impress the discerning and digitally-savvy, Michael White (Associate Editor for Behind the Spin and Digital Account Manager for Lansons), who will go through each of their blogs with a fine comb before announcing Britain’s Best PR Student Blogger 2016!!!

There are plenty of blogs out there you can use for inspiration such as:

If you’re still really stuck on where to start after reading all those though, you can always read: How to write a blog post, which outlines all the basic things you should be paying attention to.

Happy Blogging!!!

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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.

Britain’s Best PR Student Blogger of the year: SECOND PLACE!!!

What some (but not many of you) may be aware of is that seven lonnnnng months ago, PR Practitioner and Academic, Richard Bailey (who is also the Editor of online PR magazine, Behind the Spin) kicked off this academic year’s #BestPRblogs competition to promote the work of student bloggers (like myself) who are passionate about public relations.

One month ago, Livi Wilkes, Lauren Old, Morta Jablonskaite, Simona Novokova and I were shortlisted. I couldn’t have been more pleased! After all, I’ve only really been blogging properly since last September so to have my work deemed strong enough for the shortlist of a national contest with over fifty talented entrants was a really nice surprise.

Anyway, we had a month to impress Stephen Waddington, Chief Engagement Officer for  and regular blogger in his own right (Seriously, check out his blog!), who was judging us based on:

  • Our content,
  • Our effort to build a community
  • Technical competence in the design and function of our blogs

Today, the results were announced and Britain’s Best PR Student Blogger of 2015 was named in a dedicated blog post by Stephen…..

Morta and Simona achieved joint status as runners-up for their blogs Just PR (Morta) and SN’s PR Campaigns blog (Simona), both of which are beautifully designed and contain in-depth insightful content on a wide range of areas.

Me, myself and I? I placed (joint) SECOND/Highly Commended alongside mature student, Lauren, whose blog shares her experiences juggling her studies with being a mum. Her posts often make me smile, particularly her posts (like this one) relating her experiences raising a two year old to aspects of public relations.

Stephen’s feedback was very kind and reinforced areas I know I need to improve. He said:

Ashley’s Comms and Caffeine blog uses the Adele WordPress template. It’s a good portfolio design with links to her social media profiles. She’s a prolific blogger often posting several posts per week. The content is a mix of campaign analysis and insight into areas of practice. Ashley isn’t afraid of controversial subjects; a recent post takes on the Protein World campaign. Her next job is to work on engagement around her content to generate comments and inbound links.

Engagement has always been my weakness and I think my confidence is a strong possible cause for this. So, after my exams finish, I am dedicating (at least part of) my summer to improving the engagement surrounding my content to expand my reach and gain increased exposure for my work.

That only leaves the girl who secured first place and won the title of Best PR Student Blogger of 2015,

LIVI WILKES!!!

I’m so darn happy for Livi as her blog, Live Love Laugh PR, is a personal favourite of mine (I get to admit that now!). The open passion and clear love she demonstrates for PR is something I share wholeheartedly, and I love both the clean simplicity and overall ‘prettiness’ of her blog’s design as well as the down-to-earth tone she takes in her posts.

Overall, its been a pretty wonderful day and I can’t thank Richard enough for running this project over the past seven months and inspiring a new generation of public relations bloggers. Not only has this experience shown me how easy, interesting and FUN blogging is once you get started, it’s also really helped me gain confidence in my own personal ‘voice’.

The only way is up and thanks to Behind the Spin, I’m one step closer to making my mark in the industry.