Having finished university for the summer and finding myself a myself a part-time job, the next logical step was to spend my time getting some essential work experience in the world of Public Relations.
Previously, through the university’s Professional Mentoring Scheme, I was matched with Kieron Goldsborough, Managing Director at Press Ahead as a mentor. He introduced me to his PR team and I spent one day a week over a 6 week period with Press Ahead getting some experience. I also met with Sally Pearson, Head of PR, as part of our day celebrating winning the CIPR International Douglas Smith Student Award (yes, I’m still going on about that and probably will be for a long time!). Sally told us about how she got into PR as a career and shared some top tips and her expertise. This time round I contacted them again and luckily for me they invited me in for two weeks – I guess I can’t have made that bad of an impression!
I know how important industry experience is, especially as I am going into my final year and soon to start job hunting, so I was very excited to join the team for a little while. Press Ahead are a PR, marketing, research, creative and media consultancy. Their clients range from Sunderland City Council to Berghaus and from Arena Racing Company to University of Cumbria, so I knew I was in safe and experienced hands. From what I have seen of the way they work before, they are a very creative and pro-active team that all support each other and this positive environment was something I was looking forward to.
I was keen to get some practical experience. We spend a lot of time in university on theory and learning the skills, which of course is both interesting and essential, but I was looking forward to getting my hands on some real-life clients (not literally, might I add!) and experiencing how PR practitioner really does work. I think this is something books can’t teach you, only experience can.
I felt extremely nervous going into the office on the first day. After a friendly welcome from Lisa Nixon and getting a bright “good morning” from everyone on their way in (despite it being a Monday morning!) I felt a lot more comfortable. First off, I joined the PR team meeting, where they each set out their plans for the week. It introduced me to what sort of things they were up to and what I would be assisting them with. It was interesting to see how they plan their week and the huge range of tasks that agency life demands, including writing press releases, juggling clients and heading out to photo shoots for the media.
Sally set me on my first task of the week and I began tapping away at my keyboard. Doing work for “real-life” clients has really made me think in much more detail about the style and tone of my writing, as well as making it relevant to my target audience. It set me off on a very enjoyable first day with the team.
Day two has been a media monitoring day! I helped to organise and print media coverage for a client meeting and organised it all into one handy powerpoint presentation. As the press releases that we write at university don’t actually get sent out to journalists, tracking what happens to releases that are sent out is something I am very interested in learning about. It’s an essential part of PR to ensure your stories are reaching the right places. I was also set on a task writing a press release (one of my favourite things to do!) which finished off another very interesting day. I already feel like I am getting a lot of great experiences and learning the best ways to work. The fact that I am enjoying it too is very reassuring – PR is the career for me!
I’m certainly looking forward to the next two weeks I have here at Press Ahead, watch this space for more updates!
Until next time…