Hot off the press!

To PR people, the concept of not keeping up with the news is unthinkable.

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Source: KellyB. (Flickr)

Whether its via broadsheets, tabloids, online or offline, keeping on top of the latest news is a key part of our day. How else would we be able to follow all the developments in current trends, let alone see the opportunities or face the challenges that might influence our clients’/employer’s brand(s).

I even know of one girl studying for her masters in PR whose primary source of news was Instagram – something that deeply shocked me until I realised that (given her passion for celebrity fashion and beauty trends) it was actually a pretty understandable outlet for what she wanted.

That being said, when I read this article over at Clareville Communication‘s blog, I was stunned to find that a whopping 10 per cent of Brits don’t keep up with the news and that this number DOUBLED in the last year alone.

*ENDLESS FACEPALM*

What is going on Britain? There is more to life than Celebrity Big Brother and what little ‘news’ that works its way onto Facebook to be scrolled over for want of yet another prank/cat/baby video.

Check it out anyway and let me know what you think and why you can (or can’t) be bothered.

 

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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

 

The top three WORST things you can do as a PR graduate

People can be their own worst enemies sometimes, and new grads are no exception. In fact, I believe new graduates can be very hard on themselves. After finally getting over the stress of your final year at university, you’ve now ticked that academic box of (hopefully!) success and have been firmly thrust into a dauntingly big pond. *Hint: You are the little fish.

There’s an awful lot of competition out there and everyone is vying for attention; so, rather than adding to the swathes of articles/blogs/columns touting what you *should* be doing, I have made a list of the top three worst things a grad can do to damage their chances and nailing that sought-after role.
1) Assume you have nothing left to learn

This is key. Don’t be arrogant and assume that now you’ve graduated or attended a prestigious school that you’ve got nothing left to learn. PR degrees have become increasingly popular over the last few years and although some of them are very good (I like to think my MSc was), you don’t need one to start a career in PR.  In fact, you don’t need a degree at all.

Yes, you’ve earned that certificate saying you know about your subject but knowing the theory for why something works doesn’t always translate into being able to do absolutely everything entailed in a role.That often only comes with hard graft and experience.

Employment is a learning curve but common areas for personal growth once in a PR role include:

  • Phone skills and ‘selling in’ to journalists.
  • Email Etiquette for different stakeholders depending on your/your agency/client’s relationship with the recipient.
  • Technological capabilities – There is a HUGE number of programs and tools out there that you won’t have had access to whilst as a student.
  • Client management
  • Confidence in your abilities – This is something that comes with time but being a new hire and a new entrant to the industry understandably comes with a bit of insecurity and if you’re like me that means you might overthink things on occasion. Trust in yourself and and don’t be afraid to ask for help/support/a second pair of eyes.

2) Sell yourself short

That being said, don’t let yourself feel that you need a degree from a prestigious college to be successful, or that you need to live up to your peers’ achievements or that you need to have all these skills going in. Without sounding trite, everyone has their own journey and although yes it might feel frustrating to feel like you’re struggling, good employers will make a point to support new hires in building these skills. After all, it’s a win-win.

It’s a balancing act of acknowledging your areas for improvement and demonstrating the confidence, initiative and passion for the industry you want to succeed in. A lot of the time it’ll really come down to being willing to learn so have confidence in yourself and go in to interviews with a positive mindset.

 

3) Disengage from your personal brand 

This is something I will openly admit that I personally struggled with once I started working. Managing all of my personal branding and research on top of a jam-packed professional day was difficult to adjust to, particularly given that I was also battling long commutes and a landlord with a vendetta against modern technology…

Seriously… no wifi?! How is a girl supposed to connect with the world?!

It should come as no surprise that my mobile data plan was wiped out within days…

The first tip for countering this is to try taking some time out of your weekend to write. Depending on what you can juggle around, you can either write a post a week just giving updates or you can write a few posts and then schedule them to be published during the week whilst you’re at work – the latter being more successful in practice for us PR folks I think.

As for my second tip, it isn’t really what I’d call a tip but more of a tool.

*Disclaimer: If you haven’t come across ‘If this, Then that‘, prepare to have your mind blown!

IFTTT (as it’s more commonly known) is an online and mobile app that connects your platforms to each other and basically does what it says on the tin with very little in terms of faffing.

Once you’ve set up your preferences the way you like, the app will automatically respond to you doing ‘this’- ‘this’ being anything from uploading a picture to Instagram or posting a Tweet – by doing ‘that’ whether its sharing that photo on your blog (*See below) or sharing a blog post to Facebook.

It’s a great way to make sure you integrate all your online platforms so that your online profile is consistent and up to date.

Getting your proverbial ‘ducks’ in a row is really very simple with a little bit of planning and once you’ve managed it, it’s even easier to fire off those CVs, wow the recruiters, and nail that all important interview.

If you’d like to look at a more comprehensive list that relates to both senior and junior professionals, I highly recommed Edelman’s latest post.

 

 

 

Day in the life

Making that transition from education into professional life can often be a struggle. Suddenly, you’re expected to hit the ground running and put all that theory into practice with often only the support of your colleagues and online career advice to guide you.

That being said, it’s important to get an idea of what you’re jumping into as an Account Executive so – taking into consideration that no day is really the same in PR – I thought I’d grant you all a small exposé as to what a normal day at London’s Houston PR (the agency which gave me my ‘break’ into the world of professional public relations) would involve.

6am – My first alarm which (unsurprisingly) I would snooze… repeatedly. Suffice to say, I’m not a morning person.

7.10am – Leave for the bus, usually running because I’d rather do that than spend an extra second standing out in the cold/wet.

7.30am – The bus arrives. It’s supposed to be an hours journey by (perhaps typically for the London rush hour) it never is; luckily I’m early enough on the route to regularly manage to get a seat for the majority of the journey.

8.40am – Arrive in central London and buy coffee no. 1 of the day as well as a bagel or small salmon baguette. The baristas in both Pret and Cafe Nero know me on sight, but Cafe Nero wins the morning coffee slot with their extra shot – something I definitely need.

8.45am – Arrive at the office (just around the corner) and check national news websites, my to-do list for the day and my inbox (both in-case of something urgent that needs attending to and also in case I’ve heard back from any journalists).

9.10am – Weekly staff meeting to discuss updates on all clients as well as where we are within our new business pipeline.

9.40am – Quick briefing with my direct superior to go over my notes and discuss direct actionables for the week which I add to my to-do list in order of priority. I also provide an update on the progress of the bi-weekly insight sessions I currently run on social management and analytical tools.

9.50am – Check keywords for whether any coverage has been achieved overnight and (after verifying them) add any new pieces to the clients’ cuttings files and coverage documents alongside their respective details. We have a couple of clients who prefer daily updates so this is a common (and relatively simple) task for when I first get into the office.

10.10am –  A few responses have come in from a couple well-known magazines requesting more information about a client’s product line. There are also one or two blogger requests for items to review. I check their circulation; one has a high enough reach to be suitable so I fire off an email checking how the client would prefer it handled in terms of logistics.

10.30am – Called into an impromptu meeting by an Account Manager to discuss a new client whose meeting they want me to sit in on later today.

11am – Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. And I finally get the chance to eat the breakfast I’ve been picking at for the last two hours.

11.15am – Back at my desk and client has called in needing a list of all major technology publications so I start going through our online databases pulling out titles that are appropriate for their market, outlining their circulation as well as contact information for the most appropriate journalist, and collating them within a report to mail over.

12pm – A call comes in from a client requesting feedback on something I have been involved in but not directly enough to be able to help. She sounds stressed and expresses that it’s needed within the next day or two. I make a note of her request and forward it to the appropriate colleague with an offer to handle it if needed; they’re in meetings for most of the day but will most likely be checking email periodically. I also make a point to reassure the client and give a fair estimate of when she can expect to hear from us. I’m hoping that after a month or so of emails, she might remember me – she doesn’t, but she sounds a lot more positive by the end of the call so I hope she will do soon.

12.10pm – Back to trawling databases for leads. I’m now cross-referencing the list I’ve compiled against publications’ reach and the names of journalists with whom I know our agency has a pre-existing relationship. It’s always nice to skip the introduction stage after all.

12.30pm – Proof and make edits to a press release that is due to go out. It needs bulking out with more facts and/or quotes so I trawl through the hivemind of Google for something appropriate and tweak it before sending it back to my colleague to go out.

1pm – The coverage report I sent out for one of my clients was missing a couple of items that didn’t show up on our media monitoring. The client noticed the omission and – given that its the second time in as many weeks that our cuttings service hasn’t picked up everything it should – understandably they’re pissed and (because they know it’s not an oversight on our end) I’m tasked to recify the issue and liase with the media monitoring agency to try and find out where the gap is in their scope.

1.20pm – Lunchtime! Due to living in a glorified box without kitchen facilities, this is my main meal of the day so I take my leave of the office for a short walk and some “me” time (often used to plan these blog posts) before making a choice on what to eat… working on the Strand means the options are endless so today I swing by Koshari Street (an Egyptian street food cafe on St Martin’s Lane) for a Lentil and Swiss Chard soup.

2.20pm – Social media is an important and essential tool for both our clients and our business. To keep ourselves up to date with the myriad of tools and tricks out there, I host a bi-weekly insight session on key tools that would benefit specific clients but this means taking the time to research and assess their relevance before adding the relevant details to the powerpoint I’m designing.

3.30pm – I sit in on a client meeting with a manager and the MD. We have a couple of international clients so despite the difficulty of juggling timezones, regular conference calls allow us to better understand their needs and expectations as well as making sure they appreciate our role and where we are within their campaign.

4.30pm – The meeting took longer than expected so I start finishing up today’s To-Do list and make my final calls to journalists following up on coverage or pitches.

5pm – Before I leave, I tidy my desk space and write up the key actionables for tomorrow morning.

5.30pm – Leave the office and grab a sandwich or soup before I get to the bus stop. I can already see that the traffic is insane and – as more people leave the office – I know it’s only going to get worse.

7.15pm – Home. Finally.

7.30pm – Shower

8pm – Blog and skype my family and friends.

9.30pm – Put on a film and try to relax. More often than not I end up scrolling through Twitter and industry news sites.

11pm – Sleep.

Not so much baby steps as diving in with both feet.

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Quick selfie after arriving early at the office #keenbean

Starting a new job is always a bit of a daunting prospect. A new office, new colleagues, and new clients – each with their own quirks and idiosyncrasies; it’s a lot to take in and adapt to, particularly when you’re making the jump from academia to working life.

The last week or so has been jam packed with firsts for me as I’ve not only started a fab new role at Houston PR, but I’ve also made the jump from Leicester to the BIG CITY i.e. London.

*Note: the streets are paved with chewing gum not gold. I know… I was disappointed too.

What wasn’t disappointing (in fact the complete opposite) was my job. Despite being *almost* pee-my-pants nervous on my first day – which wasn’t helped by experiencing London rush hour traffic for the first time (despite leaving an hour early for a very short journey, I was still pushed for time) – I’m loving every minute.

Its still early days of course, but fitting into the team has felt completely natural – it still freaks me out that I only started on Monday; it feels so much longer!!! – and I’ve got some really interesting clients to work on. I’m even being given the opportunity to help towards the pitches for two potential new clients (my favourite part of the week so far), and have been asked my opinion on the effectiveness and capabilities of several systems and processes.

Overall, I’d say this week has taught me four key things:

  • Working in PR is very different from studying it and you’re expected to learn fast..
  • Being able to put what you know into practice is the best feeling.
  • Having done internships and gained experience beyond academic life makes things so much easier.
  • Finding the right agency/role for you is so important and, despite the risk of moving to the most expensive capital in the world, I know I made the right decision by joining Hamish and the team at Houston PR, and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Hold the front page!!!

  
I’ve been itching to post this for the last few days but, now that the official announcement has been made I feel I can finally announce that I have joined Behind the Spin’s editorial team as an Associate Editor.

Behind the Spin (for those of you who don’t know) is an online magazine that caters to public relations students and young PR professionals. As well as regularly updating with articles on anything from promoting MOOC’s and industry competitions to feature articles showing the intricacies of a particular role or a contributor’s perception and experience of a particular area of the industry, the publication and it’s Editor, Richard Bailey, are active in assisting with careers advice and ways for young and passionate PR folk to demonstrate their skills.

For me, it has become a valuable resource that I’ve highly recommended to my peers since my discovery of it last summer, but it is it’s provision of opportunities such as its annual national #PRstudent blogging competition, and Richard’s willingness to act as a ‘sounding board’ for any and all of my professional thoughts, queries, and questions that – I believe – sets Behind the Spin apart. Despite being an avid and voracious reader of many popular industry titles (Drum, Creative Review and PR Week to name a few) – something I highly recommend doing for any aspiring or current PR student or grad – Behind the Spin (for me at least) has become that down-to-earth insight into the positives, challenges and just plain realities of what the industry is like at the level WE are currently at.

Cue why being a part of it is all very exciting – to the point of my letting out a rather undignified squeal in the middle of a crowded train platform when reading Richard’s offer.

If you’d also like to get involved (whether you’re a PR student, a graduate, a PR lecturer or an employer), check out this open invitation to tell you how.

#BreakingNews Max Clifford has been charged!

Max CliffordInfamous former celebrity publicist, Max Clifford (72) has just been charged with another indecent assault that allegedly occurred in 1981, and will appear at Westminster Magistrates court later this month.

Based on evidence collected as part of Operation Yewtree, the charge is the lastest in a string of offences by Clifford, who was convicted last year of multiple sexual assaults and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS in London, Baljit Ubhey, said: “We have carefully considered the evidence gathered as part of Operation Yewtree in relation to Max Clifford.

“Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Mr Clifford to be charged with one offence of indecent assault. Mr Clifford will appear at Westminster magistrates court on 21 July 2015.”