Last night, during the #PowerAndInfluence chat few people asked about networking tips. Networking is never easy at first, especially for students. I remember I was extremely shy and nervous at my first event at university. I was scared to talk to my lecturers, not even mentioning the practitioners that came along. However, practice makes it perfect.
1. Go to industry events
Events are a great way of practicing your networking skills, meeting like-minded people and building your professional network. Once you sign up to an event, check the speakers on social media and see what they like talking about. This way, you have a topic in mind when you approach them at the event.
At such events, you will have to get out of your comfort zone. Sounds scary, I know. But just remember that all those senior people were students before. They understand how valuable it is for young people to communicate with successful professionals like themselves, and they will never refuse talking to you. Ask questions about their job, the industry or a recent campaign. Listening and learning is part of the networking process.
If there are no local events that you can go to, ask your lecturers to invite alumni, who can share their journey since graduating. You will get the chance to network and get tips on how to break into the industry.
2. Connect on social media
Thanks to LinkedIn and Twitter, networking is easier than ever. Students can connect with practitioners and follow their careers. Join the conversation and comment on some tweets/posts. Again, ask questions. There are so many successful PR practitioners, who are always willing to talk to students and help them. You just need to approach them. Don’t be afraid to talk to people.
Ella Minty, Stephen Waddington and Richard Bailey are just some of the people, who will always find time to answer your questions.
Once you have built a rapport on social media, you can invite them for a coffee meeting. Face-to-face networking is better as you can discuss a variety of topics and build the relationship.
3. Follow your peers
If you are afraid to jump into the deep waters immediately, start by following your peers from other universities. For example, blogging is a great way of approaching like-minded students. Jessica Pardoe, Orlagh Shanks and Marcel Klebba are fantastic examples of PR bloggers, who have excelled at networking. Read their blogs, connect with them and ask for their tips. All of us have panic attacks when we need to speak with strangers, but by talking with people at your age, you can practice.
For more tips, read Marcel’s posts on networking. And if you have any questions after that, just ask.
For all Bournemouth students, who want to practice their networking skills, come along to “Meet the Professionals” event on 18th March. Book tickets at: https://bumeettheprofessionals.eventbrite.co.uk
No, unfortunately I am not secretly a pop star like Hannah Montana. My life revolves around studying and working in PR. At the same time. Bold move, right? Just says ‘yes’, I like to think that I am very brave for doing both things.
When I was near the end of my placement year and few months until I go back to writing essays, I realised that I will miss working. Never thought I would say this at my age, but it was true. I loved working in PR: getting coverage for clients, talking to journalists and discussing everything new and juicy in the industry. Therefore, I decided to get a part-time job in PR whilst being a final year student. I didn’t want to miss the connection I had with the industry and have a gap on my CV for a year.
Now, 5 months into final year at university and my job, I can honestly say this is the best of both worlds. Yes, I admit it’s very challenging and difficult, especially in some weeks, full of deadlines, but all the pressure is worth it.
World 1: University
Few months until handing in my dissertation, I can say that I will miss university. Final year is definitely not easy, but I learnt so many new things. For example, statistics. Yes, I studied correlations and regressions on a PR unit. Even though I disliked it at 2-3am on some nights, now that’s over, I realise how valuable it was. Data insights are freaking important for campaigns and I would have never known that if it wasn’t for Data Driven Marketing (Thanks, Joyce!). For example, now I know how human values can influence climate change beliefs in Russia and Sweden. A bit random topic, but the analysis can be very useful for sustainability campaigns. And knowing how to analyse data can be very beneficial for me in the future. It’s certainly a skill that I am putting on my CV.
A university degree in PR is a great starting point for a career in the industry. I know that there are people arguing the importance of it, but I believe that at university, you push yourself to get high grades and you develop yourself. For example, you learn how to meet tight deadlines (who said you can’t write a 5000-word essay the night before the deadline!?), how to do a proper research and you might overcome your fear of public speaking during presentations. And you meet amazing people, who support you along the way.
World 2: Part of the Crowd
I work part-time as a PR & Marketing Executive at Crowd, a global creative agency. It’s not a PR agency, so I don’t have a mentor or someone to teach me new PR skills. Instead, I am putting everything I learnt on my placement into practice. I do PR for Crowd and being the sole PR person for an agency with 12 offices globally, it’s not easy. But it’s different from what I have done before and this keeps me excited and curious. I get first hand experience on how creative agencies work and at the same time, I work in PR. I write press releases; opinion pieces and I secure coverage in top-tier publications. Even though my job is mainly media relations, I gain an understanding of how digital marketing campaigns work.
I would be lying if I say it’s very easy to manage a job and university. It’s not, but it’s possible and worth it. Experience is everything when you enter the working world after graduation. People from your course or other universities are competing for the same jobs as you. So, you need to stand out from the crowd somehow. Moreover, I certainly improved my time management and organisation skills while juggling my assignments with working three days a week.
To all students out there, no matter what year at university you are in: get work experience. I can’t stress enough how important it is to show on an interview that you have at least a faint idea how an agency operates. Try and get a few weeks of experience during the spring or summer break. And if your timetable allows it, get a part-time job while studying. It’s possible to get high grades and work at the same time.
Yes, this exists (I Googled it, must be real). I am at the point in my life, where I can do whatever I want, but I am scared to do anything.
The past 23 years have been planned for me – elementary school, high school and then university. I knew what’s next and I knew what I had to do to achieve it. But now I have so many choices for the future that I am not sure which one is the right one. Do I continue my education and enrol for a master’s degree? Do I apply for a graduate scheme? Do I apply for a normal entry level job and start climbing up the career ladder?
So many questions and I do not have the answers for them. I know that many students experience my issues and have similar worries. And I understand that this anxiety about the future is a normal stage of everyone’s life. But I cannot help but wonder if I am making the right decisions.
There is one thing that I know for sure – PR is the career for me. I have no doubt in that. I loved my placement and I love my current job (although, it’s quite difficult managing studying and working at the same time). I love the feeling when I secure a coverage in the media. I like meeting new and exciting clients. It’s an industry that changes every day and I cannot wait to be part of it, but first I need to decide – what’s next?
After three years at university, I am not running with open hands towards another degree. But I cannot get rid of the feeling that this might be a good option for me. In Bulgaria, my home country, having a master’s degree opens so many doors, so I might be partly biased. And my parents are keen on me continuing my education. I am considering a master’s degree only because I am not sure that I will ever go back to a university once I start working. I know that I cannot foresee the future, but I have this feeling that one dissertation in a lifetime is enough. But on the other hand, having a master’s degree gives you this additional expertise that you might need to go to a managerial position later. I am not saying ‘No’ to this option yet, so I have chosen few degrees to apply to just in case.
I think that graduate schemes that are 12 months, just like placements, are fantastic option for students like me. Students, who have no idea what to do with their lives. I like the rotational schemes, where you get the chance to work across different departments and gain knowledge about a variety of PR sectors. This way, you find out what you like and what you hate. But, unfortunately, there are not many companies offering these schemes. And I am not sure if a normal graduate job is for me. Of course, if I find some amazing opportunity in an agency that I really like, I will accept it. But what if I start working and then I never go back to university to do a master’s degree. My fear from the previous point will come and haunt me.
I have experience only in B2B PR and media relations. I haven’t worked in Consumer PR or any other sector, so I would love to try a different area of PR before choosing a master’s degree.
Around the world
I know that students take the time after university to travel and see new places. I would be lying if I say I don’t want to travel the world, but I don’t want to have that gap on my CV. It might be stupid, because you learn new things while visiting different places, but taking time off is not on my list. I would prefer to get a job at a global agency that will allow me to go and work at one of their offices in another country. Every day can be an adventure in the PR industry!
Although, I am extremely happy that Harvard referencing might not be part of my life after June, I am scared. I am excited for the new challenges ahead, but I just hope that whatever decisions I make, they will turn out to be the right ones. But as soon as I choose an option, my life crisis might be over and a new chapter begins.
Challenge accepted, Richard!
After PR Place’s challenge on ROI of blogging, I started thinking of all the reasons why I launched my website. And there are some that might help future students to gather the courage they need to start their own blog.
Blogging has definitely helped me to get my name out there. I have made so many valuable connections thanks to my blog. And being recognised while still a newbie in the PR industry feels like a good pat on the shoulder.
My newest blog series #10QuestionsWith allows me to talk to well-established practitioners and authors in the PR industry, and that might not have been possible without my website. I gained a lot of valuable and different lessons from those interviews as everyone has a unique experience.
This may sound weird but blogging actually helps me to manage my time more effectively. Being a final year student and working part-time is difficult and overwhelming sometimes, but scheduling another blog post feels rewarding. I know that I’ve ticked something off my to-do list and suddenly planning becomes easier. And working on my blog doesn’t feel as stressful as my assignments, so that’s a bonus.
Blogging gives you a key selling point during interviews. It is an evidence that you can adopt a different style of writing (not an academic one!), you are up-to-date with hot topics in the industry and you are persistent enough to do something in the long term.
I started my blog while being on placement and it already helped me secure a part-time job. It’s just that one thing that can make you stand out from other candidates.
Being part of something bigger
As Lucy mentioned in her latest post – you become a part of a community. Thanks to Richard, all PR students can join the #PRstudent #bestPRblogs on Twitter and connect to fellow bloggers. That’s how I came across Orlagh, Jessica and Marcel, who have slightly influenced me to start my own blog. Jessica was very supportive when I launched my website and gave me great tips.
This is possibly the best advantage of blogging – meeting amazing people and learning from them.
Below is my entry for this year's PRCA Reginald Watts Prize for Insight. Unfortunately, I wasn't shortlisted, but I would like to share my essay with you.
Already looking forward to next year's topic!
The public relations (PR) and communications industry is constantly evolving, as is the media landscape, today with a bigger focus on digital platforms and social media as communications strategies.
The role of PR as management discipline has been firmly established within the industry for over a century, especially by the CIPR and PRCA’s definitions based on the Bernays’ “management function, which tabulates public attitudes, defines the policies, procedures, and interests of an organisation…” . However, earning the public understanding and acceptance has become more difficult.
Millennials and Generation Z have grown up with digital technology and social media, making their use of it more natural and them more comfortable with the application of emerging technologies. As advancements are made in the artificial intelligence (AI), PR needs to adapt. Technology is already impacting the PR work in many ways and in the near future, some actions such as monitoring for coverage, writing press releases or social media content might become fully automated. For example, Brandwatch finds patterns in social media posts and quickly determines the sentiment, whereas Google Analytics helps us measure the outcomes. And young professionals are more likely to be early adopters of the new digital services, so the PR industry will be disrupted exponentially.
PR is no longer just “sending articles or press releases to newspapers to win favour for a client” . Relationships are still at the core, but the industry has changed from straightforward communication to multi-way conversation. Social media allows organisations to communicate directly to their target audience, a shift in communications that has added another part to the practice. It gives a bigger opportunity for owned media, content that companies are in control of, rather than leaving the task of sharing key messages in the hands of journalists.
Hence, today’s professionals must think more broadly. Firstly, they must have multi-disciplinary skillset as they are now digital communications experts. The PRCA Digital Report 2017 states that 56% of in-house respondents expect their PR agencies to deliver social influencer outreach and 51% expect online reputation management as part of the offered services . Professionals have to be able to mix traditional PR with social media and even advertising. Secondly, more strategic thinking should be required on how these elements solve specific business issues – not just the communications ones. Practitioners must have a greater understanding of business, leadership and digital platforms. The delicate combination of PR with these interactive web tools and social media is the way a company gets its brand messages out in the world now. As a matter of fact, the report reveals that 73% of in-house respondents use social media to increase brand awareness .
In the past, journalists have controlled the story and brand image perceived by the public. PR practitioners have had to build relationships with them to provide content and shape the narrative. While that hasn’t changed much, companies have much more power now over sharing their messages due to blogs and social media. And thanks to those platforms, digital storytelling is more influential than ever, and the PR industry should use that to its advantage. The art of storytelling involves using messages that inspire conversation and engagement among the target audience. It’s one of the most effective ways to communicate and ultimately stimulate the audience’s attitudes and direct them towards your key messages.
Social media has also allowed PR practitioners access to reporters and influencers. There are now more platforms to get your message in front of a targeted writer, beyond the standard email pitch. You can now follow journalists, use relevant hashtags or just send a direct message on Twitter. Essentially, this means that the traditional earned media is no longer the primary way to reach the audience. One tweet can get the brand’s story in front of thousands of customers. As a result, many publications have shifted to a digital-only format. More and more people seek out their daily news from their mobile phones or tablets. Therefore, there is the emergence of whole new sectors of online outlets and blogs. Some bloggers and online influencers have more followers on social media than some top tier publications. The influencers’ importance in the PR and Marketing industry continues to grow, and practitioners cannot avoid that forever. They should take this opportunity and develop relationships with a whole new world of online influencers to help share the right story with the right audience. Because sometimes a single post with a company’s name is way more effective than a feature article on a newspaper .
The rise of digital has introduced brand new outlets, channels and potential strategies for PR professionals to pursue. PR is not about blasting noise and information but creating engaging stories and giving them life through new digital tools. It is about finding innovative ways to connect the client with its target audience. And that’s the magic of digital communications: the combination of great storytelling and multiple channels executed together. PR practitioners need to think much more broadly about communications.
In an age of revolution in digital communications, Public Relations is (should be) a strategic management discipline that builds a positive reputation and public image via engaging storytelling on multiple traditional and digital channels. It establishes a beneficial relationship between an organisation, its publics, the media and online influencers.
 Breakenridge, D. (2009). PR 2.0. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: FT Press.
 PRCA Digital Report 2017
 Kahn, E. (2018). How to work with influencers in 2018. [online] Prweek.com. Available at: https://www.prweek.com/article/1453015/work-influencers-2018
Hi there! Welcome to my blog about PR and things that I find fascinating.