When I grow up I wanna be….a PR professional

The industry of Public Relations is one that I still struggle to explain to anyone when they ask where my degree will actually get me in life.

So the way in which I describe it to others is to tell them what PR means to me.

What PR means to me…

Public relations is having growing media representation within today’s society, whether that’s through online brand content or on the streets of your nearest city, public relations comes in many forms and is all around us, yet not may actually know what it is.

Image result for public relations"

It is becoming extremely important for organisations to have a PR strategy in place, in order to get their brand out there and increase the reputation within the industry and to their publics.

Producing a single definition of PR, to me, is impossible, there are many different interpretations of PR and so many different definitions by different organisations.

There are two top public relations organisations within the UK, the CIPR and PRCA, and even they define public relations differently.

The definition that sticks with me is the CIPR definition, as it states that public relations is about an organisations reputation, and is ‘a result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you’.

  Image result for cipr" Image result for prca"

Initial Interest 

The first time I had heard of the term Public Relations was when I was finishing my A-levels and discovered a local girl from my area who was studying a business and PR course at university and had created a blog where she discussed all things PR related. Through reading her blogs I realised that, while I had no clue what she was talking about, the topics she was discussing really intrigued me. That girl was Orlagh Shanks, now the UK’s top PR blogger for 2018 and 2019.

I then decided, (after a rejected nursing application) that I was going to apply for the Communication Management and Public Relations course at Ulster University. Even though, at this stage, I didn’t know much about public relations or what it was, or even what kind of job it would get me, I just knew that I really enjoyed reading PR related content, and that was enough for me to apply.

To this day I am thankful for that rejected nursing application, as I have been really enjoying my course at university.

Creativity 

One of the main reasons a career in PR interests me is that it allows you to be creative.

‘In the UK, public relations practitioners work in an industry with millions of pounds spent by organisations and clients to pay them to be creative and practise creativity’ (Green, A. 2010).

A job in public relations would allow you to express and show your creative mind through the development of PR strategies and campaigns. This is an aspect of mu university course that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Developing a PR strategy or campaign is exciting, it allows me to express my ideas and come up with innovative concepts to make a brand stand out and gain engagement, which in turn will benefit the organisation as it will influence a positive opinion of the brand. I have always had an interest in writing and producing online content, which is why I developed my own blog two years ago – https://siobhanmckerr.blogspot.com/. This interest will benefit me within my career in PR as it will assist me when writing press releases for organisations to be used by journalists and other media.

Public relations is an industry that is very fast paced, things change all the time, which for me is exciting. I have always viewed a job in PR as ‘fun’, and something I would love doing everyday, which would make me feel more motivated within my job. A day working in PR would never be the same as the last, the world of PR is constantly developing, things happen everyday that involve the use of PR, in news, media and online.

Social media as a tool

Another aspect of a job within PR is the use of social media. Social media can be used as a tool, whether it be to improve an organisations reputation or to grow their publics in order to gain customers, if social media is done right it can achieve all of these things.

Social media is something that I enjoy on a regular basis like most of us, however, through the development of my blog, I have also been able to see the side of social media that can be used as a tool for businesses. I often find myself looking up local businesses on social media sites, whether that be to see a menu or to see their latest promotional offers, and often I end up thinking to myself about the ways that the local businesses could improve on their social media sites in order to gain more engagement and traffic to their site and promote their business further.

Running an organisation’s social media sites would be something I would really enjoy, I would love to be involved in raising a brands awareness online and creating more engagement and watch this all improve on analytic sites. This is something I would thrive on, and I also believe, do well.

Image result for innocent social media"
Innocent smoothies are a company that have really changed the game when it comes to social media campaigns and they have really grown their social media presence in the last few years due to their fantastic reactive marketing campaigns and their use of crisis management in scandal situations, such as the ‘conker milk’ scandal. 

Versatile 

A degree in Public relations can take you down many different paths and can allow you to work within many different sectors of the industry, whether that be within the voluntary, public service or private sectors, or in-house vs agency.

Right know the path that interests me the most is Influencer Marketing. I want to learn more about the process of influencer marketing, such as why people online are so influential to consumers through the use of sponsored content. I would also love to learn more about how businesses and organisations work with influencers to promote their brands and become more successful online.

While this is a stem off the idea of a career solely in public relations, I feel that a job in influencer marketing would also incorporate PR as it involves working with publics and forming relationships in order to improve an organisations reputation. I hope to be able to explore many different paths within the PR industry as this would open many doors for me as a PR professional and would enable me to gain overall insight into the industry. This would also encourage me to stay motivated and inspired within my career.
Image result for career paths"

Feeling valued

Having a job where the work you do actually is important and means something will help you to feel respected and valued within the organisation you are working for. Everyone needs PR, so everyone needs your ideas and creative mind to ensure the reputation of their business stays at a high standard.  At some stage, every organisation will need some sort of content creation, promotional content, crisis management or an entirely new PR strategy, meaning that as a PR professional, you will always be valued and have meaning. This is something that is important to me when discussing a career, as feeling valued within the work place will enable you to work to the best of your ability with the team around you. This will also ensure a healthy and exciting workplace.

Success 

For me, when a think of a PR professional, I think of success. We all want to be successful and this is something I see as achievable when I think of a career in Public Relations. It offers the opportunity to progress within your career through the possibility of promotion, starting as a PR assistant and working your way up to a PR manager or even director. This means that within the PR sector there is always the opportunity for improvement and also for learning throughout your career, which is important to me as it reduces the likeliness of hitting a dead end with your career and will help to keep me motivated throughout and in return will hopefully enable a lot of success within my future career plan.

Here are some motivational quotes from successful women to inspire you!

 

Siobhan McKerr is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @Siobhan_mckerr, LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/siobhan-mckerr and Instagram: @Siobhan_mckerr.

Pending: A Career in Public Relations

1

My earliest memory of my career aspirations stretches back to when I was 7. I entered a drawing competition at my local Credit Union and the topic was ‘What I want to be when I grow up’. At the age of 7 career ideas aren’t overly varied, usually ranging from a nurse, to a singer or maybe a hairdresser, but I was pretty confident that I wanted to be a superstar. With my goal in mind I drew a picture of myself on the red carpet. Despite being a shy and quiet child with no confidence whatsoever, I was pretty set on this path for myself and it was clear I had a creative mind, which ultimately led me to win the competition with £50 In my pocket.

Following my Credit Union success, I went on to win the drawing competition for the school magazine cover. I relished in my creativity and was constantly complimented by my peers and teachers for my flair. I was always able to develop and materialise my visions through drawings and would later on apply this attribute to writing. You would expect I would’ve taken an artistic route through school and university however; I was no Picasso. Through primary school I was never top of the class, but eventually found my brains in secondary school and excelled across the board. From my teen years I realised I was an academic person, I always wanted to succeed and enjoyed putting in hard work to subsequently reap the benefits and celebrate my achievements. Without realising, this mindset would stand me well in my future career aspirations.

4

I discovered Business Studies when I started my GCSEs and fell in love with the subject. It was a new world for me, and every aspect seemed so interesting, even the more maths-based topics such as Economics and Accounting. I always performed better in more literature and creative based subjects therefore, I immediately took interest in learning about marketing and public relations; this was the beginning of my journey to studying Communication Management and Public Relations (CMPR).

It wasn’t until I started studying CMPR and diving into jobs that I realised over the years I’d cultivated skills needed to succeed within the industry, however it also helped me to develop into a person I never thought I could be. As mentioned before, when I was younger, I lacked confidence and was very shy. These are typically qualities at the opposite spectrum of what makes a person suitable for a career in public relations. 5Through forcing myself to take up jobs which required exuding confidence and social skills, I grew into a person capable of taking on the world of PR. I found the potential within myself and learned to love meeting new people and making connections through the industry, something I did a lot of during my placement year.

Developing these new experiences and growing as a person has made me keen to see what else I am capable of which I’m yet to discover; this is something I feel embodies a career in public relations. Working in PR is always an uncertain journey. You don’t know what is coming your way next, whether it be media related, your next client, new skills and new experiences, this is why I want a career in public relations. I can constantly level up my skills and blossom into a newer and improved version of myself, which will hopefully always be as rewarding as the previous revelation. Every day is never the same within the PR industry, day-to-day jobs are different. Your next client has a different focus and brief from the previous and through working in this environment, I will be able to realign my work ethic and apply a different skill and new knowledge to achieve a happy client and hopefully a success story.

I mentioned that during secondary school I realised I was an academic person, I loved to succeed in every project or exam I laid my hands on. Through using my goal driven mindset, I feel I can contribute to great things in the public relations industry and dedicate a lot of time to creating the right campaign and message; a quality which is vital within PR. Flexibility and long hours are key to driving success in public relations. By utilising my passion for doing things well and overachieving, I believe one day I can launch a campaign which impacts the public and an organisation’s reputation positively. Knowing that these are the expectations I have set for myself; I want to become a part of an industry that recognises achievements and good work. I want to be able to turn on the news or read a newspaper and see a project I have worked on, then watch the feedback unravel and take pride in my contribution. Public Relations opens doors for people to combine personality qualities with intellectual to create a unique piece of work. This has always intrigued me, and I know this is the path I want to continue to pursue.

Microphone and thoughts of person speaking isolated vector

Along with developing key skills required for a career in public relations, I enjoy how dynamic and fast paced the job can be. I’ve met many people over the past 4 years with a career in public relations, but within different industries. The common advice they have all shared with me is how it’s a job with limited rest. You must always be prepared for something new to crop up, which is why it’s vital to keep up with trends. Luckily for me this is something I enjoy doing, I’m an avid social media user with profiles on multiple platforms.  I use them to keep up to date with the latest news; whether it be political, social, entertainment, fashion, technology, maybe even football, especially if I see a lot of trends and my curiosity drags me there.

I feel like it’s hard for me to miss any trend, especially without my acknowledgement in some shape or form, whether it’s a simple like or retweet on Twitter. I always like to delve in deeper to huge trends or news stories on Twitter or Facebook, as it allows me to gather a greater understanding of what people from around the world are thinking and how their thought processes work. Being open to global public opinions, beliefs and views enables me to expand my knowledge and my social awareness. I am able create my own views and back them up with reasons offered by my own experience or those influenced by others whom have unknowingly educated me through the web. Building an awareness of what’s happening in the world is so important within public relations. You must always be ready to create a reactive or counter message to a breaking news story or recent internet trend, particularly to maintain a positive influence and potentially deal with any crises your client or organisation may face.

The reactive nature of public relations excites me. The ability to work with the media to discuss current news and public affairs is an opportunity which I look forward to in the 2future and hope to do a lot of. Not only will I be able to continue to strengthen my social skills and communication skills, I can create a better understanding of the world of media, which I see as a massive tool in what makes the world go around. Being stuck in the centre of this fast-paced world would be immense pressure. However, the thought of going into work and being able to talk to a variety of people from different organisations and media outlets, plus tackling something new every day is a driving factor in what motivates me towards entering a whirlwind career in public relations.

Despite my CV being full of work experience from customer service jobs, I still value them as they have allowed me to evolve skills which are frequently used in PR. I’ve worked with a variety of internal and external customers from different demographics, I understand how customer needs vary, I’ve assisted in delivering company promotions and I’ve developed a love for helping people and making a difference to their day through good customer service. Yes, all these examples are in the context of retail however, all these transferable skills and experiences have prepared me for a future career in public relations. I hope to one day be working in a public relations and influencer marketing team at a global cosmetics brand, but for now as I approach the end of my degree, I eagerly look forward to my future and what it holds for this potential PR practitioner.

 

Marie-Claire Leung is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn –  Marie-Claire Leung

Eat, Pray, Love PR.

Pursuing a degree in PR was not at the top of my list when going through the University prospectuses. In fact, I was so sure I was going to be a psychologist or at least something related to that industry and that was it. Fast forward to results day and what seemed to be my dreams of a psychologist shattered to pieces was only a blessing in disguise. Reflecting back, I realise now I hadn’t even taken the time to do proper research of psychology careers or any industry for that matter. Whether that be down to my school not being overly eager on help or my own fault, I’ll not point any fingers.

Image result for public relations gif

It was on my year out that I learned to become more independent, gaining a full time job which taught me to understand people, anticipate needs, adjust to my audience, and toughen up for rough feedback-attributes I now know will be extremely useful for the PR world. I got involved in social activities and took more time for myself to do the things I enjoyed. I also focused on properly researching careers that I was interested in and that’s when PR stuck out for me. Having started to pay more attention to the news and using social media in a more constructive way that’s when I saw the brilliance behind PR campaigns. This is when I thought “here is something I want to be involved in”. Being able to share your creativity and inspirations with others where they will have such a huge impact, I thought that was amazing.

Over the past three years my knowledge and interest of PR has only strengthened, realising that PR is one of the most misunderstood professions. You can find PR in every industry there is yet it still remains a unique management function. Amongst the many competing definitions of Public Relations, Grunig and Hunt (1984) suggest it is ‘the management of communication between an organisation and its publics’. This tells us that PR is not limited, although many people outside of the industry would believe that PR is all about updating social media sites, handing out flyers and getting you onto nightclubs guest lists. As fun as that part is, there’s more to the career that interests me.

Image result for social media pr job

PR interests me as it is a wealth of a career known to have a wide range of versatile and exciting opportunities which only matches my motivation. For a person who gets bored easily I know it is the right path as no day will ever be the same in the fast paced environment. It remains fresh and exciting as there is a great variety of what can spark your interests. From promotion to campaigns, advertising and media releases it makes the path of PR a lot more exciting. It gives you the chance to fixate on an area that you would prefer to specialise in. My focus at the minute is the role of a PR Specialist and with my enthusiastic nature I know that long workdays aren’t going to be a problem nor the possibility of having to do overtime. Sometimes in this role you may be expected to travel and for me that would be a perk of the job. Why wouldn’t I want to do something that I am really interested in?

Public Relations is known to be part of the creative industry and in this ever changing media environment the need for improved and engaging creative work is important. A lot of PR involves creating engaging content: writing blog posts, creating social media posts and developing written pieces. I got to do this more actively on my placement year and it was one aspect of the job I thoroughly enjoyed doing.

Image result for writing blogs

From a young age I always loved having the opportunity to share my creativity with others. Throughout school there were chances to create short stories and poems for competitions which contributed to developing my writing skills – an essential for working in PR. I went on to study English Literature at A-Level which not only strengthened my skills but allowed for a deeper analysis of any work I had to study; looking at written pieces from different points of view. This will be useful in the future when dealing with publics and ensuring a fair and balanced opinion is provided.

Modern day PR is so much more than just crafting press releases, pitching journalists, and getting media hits. Today, in order to ‘win’, the best PR pros I’ve seen are willing to… ask themselves: ‘Who do we want to reach…and how do we measure success?’ This train of thought is a highly creative process. It’s not a one size fits all approach.” (Fowlie (1), 2016). I am fascinated by the surge of creativity that a PR path entails and believe that as more people understand the industry the more diverse, creative tasks PR professionals will have to take on.

I love that the industry is so fundamentally social and networking is a core essential in the PR world. The idea of continually meeting new people is exciting and a great way of portraying your personal brand. Networking provides multiple opportunities and is not confined to happen in a particular environment. Building relationships with key stakeholders, journalists and other PR professionals can occur at the likes of an industry event, seminars and online. I see this as a great prospect in learning from others and a good time to build my own personal social networking skills, any opportunity for learning is only going to help me grow and this is what draws me to pursuing this career.

Image result for networking pr

I have learned that there will be a lot of ‘Uh-oh!’ moments throughout my career. I got insight to this on my placement as I was asked to develop and manage an event. Suddenly the stress bells were ringing and the sudden panic of realising that this was the opportunity to make a good impression to my boss, of course I needed it to be a success. These are the pressures you can face in your job, but the ending satisfaction of being able to organise such high prestige and successful events for others to enjoy and avail of is one you cannot beat. To be honest, being thrown in at the deep end is not completely insane, I found it was a very effective way of learning on my own and a key time to use my common sense wisely. It also taught me that it is normal to not know everything and a great time to develop my understanding and not be afraid to ask questions.

Many skills are required for being successful in PR. Good verbal and written communication, decision making, teamwork and time management are a few. I do find myself having acquired and developed these skills proficiently throughout my years of work and education which will be extremely useful when dealing with publics and other professionals. As a goal getter, having these skills will not only help with attaining a job but contribute to working my way up the corporate ladder. There are a complex set of factors and patterns that are important for success, including communication skills; diverse experiences and assignments; a proactive nature; and relationship-building, networking, and interpersonal skills. Such talent will always remain vital in an industry that is ever changing.

Image result for got skill gif

PR over the past number of years has been on the rise and the main reason is for its need to influence and create change. Organisations today need brand awareness, engagement with publics and media coverage and due to the majority of companies looking to achieve these necessities, PR will remain to play a key part to keep up with these current trends. The role of Public Relations continues to fascinate me and is only evolving; a 2017 USC Annenberg Global Communications study shows that 87% of professionals believe the term “public relations” will not describe the work they do in five years. Additionally, 60% of marketing executives believe PR and marketing will become dramatically more aligned in the near future. I am heavily influenced by PR and unknowingly implement the subject in different aspects of my life. The possibilities are endless and the opportunities to display my own personality in my job are what pique my interest in the industry.

Fionnuala Hegarty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @fionnualaheg,  LinkedIn –Fionnuala Hegarty, and Instagram – fionnualahegarty

WHY DOES A CAREER IN PUBLIC RELATIONS INTEREST ME?

CL42

First of all, what is Public Relations? The Chartered Institute of Public relations has defined Public Relations as ‘the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.’, in other words it is about ‘what you do, what you say and what others say about you’. Reputation is key in this industry, especially if a person or company want to survive and be successful in the field that they are associated with. Over the last few years studying Communication Management and Public Relations it has opened my eyes to Public Relations and how varied the industry is, we may not realise it but it is all around us in nearly every aspect of our lives and adapts to the twists and turns of society. In turn it has made me question myself as to whether I am suited for this career path, and if my personality moulds to this ever-changing environment as no two days are the same.

CIPR created a PR personality quiz which was very interesting and made me really think about my personality and skillset. One of the first questions was ‘Do you cope well under pressure?’ and to answer that I think that stress is very important to me and surprisingly I perform more efficiently, it gets my brain ticking and helps me to stay more motivated to complete a task whether it is completing an essay, studying for test or changing a layout in work with the newest clothes. The quicker I react the quicker something gets done essentially, which is needed for the PR industry as it is so fast paced and invigorating.

Another question which I found very interesting was ‘Are you interested in current affairs?’, with this industry growing and changing every day is essential that I am on top of what goes on in the world we live in and the current trends and issues that are happening around us and on social media especially. As social media is such a big part in my life, and is shaping the future of PR, I find that I am more up to date and aware with everything around me, I am in the now if you will. Whether it be politically or the latest scandal happening in the social influencer community, there is always something catching my eye. This will benefit me as campaigning and marketing is such a major factor and will contribute to my creative streak, in turn enabling me to have quick brain storming skills especially when it comes to advising a client, altering to their needs and creating a more in depth relationship with their audience.

My main form of social media would be Instagram and I feel that it fits well into a lot of PR strategies now days, as it is such a simple and huge platform for self-promotion, increasing brand awareness, or connecting with a chosen demographic as well as other influencers. I love to be creative and I feel the social media side of Public Relations is best suited to me and coincides with the job I am currently in as a ‘Social Media Assistant’, as it is teaching me to think outside the box and attract an audience. As Plannthat.com states, ‘Content is QUEEN’ and it tells a quick and snappy story to your audience, and that is exactly what I want to do.

This relates to another question that is ‘Do you have a creative streak?’, and as stated above I feel that I do but I want to enhance on that, and I feel that having a career in PR could help me with that, as nothing is consistent or the same. Throughout school I was always interested in IT, Media Studies and Art which led me to my chosen course at University, these subjects enable me to create imaginative concepts and promoting. However I feel that a downfall would be my writing skills, I want to be able to grasp an audience whether it be during a press release or a post, language is key and it is within my best interests to portray a positive light on my client and send a message without there being any miscommunication. To improve on this I have started to create blog posts, my most recent one was on FOMO aka ‘The fear of missing out’ and ‘The Rise and Shine of Kylie Jenner’,  although both were quite informal I was still able to express myself and my opinions and essentially let myself go, but I am going to focus more on professional pieces to enhance my writing skills and the language that I use.

The next big question for me was ‘Do you enjoy socialising’ and although I love meeting new people and building relationships; which is essential in certain aspects of PR, I am a naturally shy person and can struggle to be vocal. As crazy as it sounds to me, there was a time when I wanted a career as a teacher but due to my personality, I felt that my skillset would not have been put into full effect. So over the last few years my perspectives have changed, and I would love a career where I am behind the scenes and am able to show my true self without any pressure, which is why the social media aspect such as creating posts and content has always appealed to me.

I envy the likes of Cathy Martin (CMPR) who is such a vocal character on social media and compels so many people to view her posts and watch her stories. I click on to her icon straight away when I see she has posted because she is such a vibrant character and can promote a brand or send a message without it feeling cliché or forced. Herself as well as many others are an example of ‘Good PR’. She comes across as very relatable and connects with so many people, which persuaded me to get in contact and do an internship with her and see first-hand the industry I could potentially become involved in. Although in my GCSE year at school I went to a PR firm for my placement, it was not a very good experience as I was just the young person sent to get coffees and file paperwork, so I felt that going to Cathy Martin would be an eye opener. I was there for 3 days and although I felt out of my comfort zone at the start, I was made to feel welcome and was given plenty of work to do, especially with the Belfast Fashion Week approaching. I was mainly given the task of social media activity, such as following people, liking posts and reacting to mentions, which was all pretty straight forward. As the next few days went on myself and other interns were able to create outfits for the fashion week, which really let my creative streak flare. Although this may only have been a small part of PR and the way Cathy works, it was still very informative and fast paced, therefore further influencing my opinion on this career path.

Like anyone they want to do a job that they love, and I want to get as much experience and insight as possible before I enter the PR industry or any industry for that matter. It is such a dynamic environment and although that can be daunting, I like a challenge and want to push myself in order to get involved in career that I know is ‘me’. I was able to easily answer questions about myself, but it is now a matter of proving that I can fit into an industry that never stays the same. To attract employers and show myself professionally I am setting a few tasks for the next coming months:

  1. Posting more blogs on the Ulster PR blog website (more professional than informal).
  2. Becoming more active on social media and making it a respectable network.
  3. Firing up my LinkedIn account to help increase my visibility and create my personal brand so employers can understand who I am professionally.

All of these are simple yet effective and with it being my final year I want to ensure I have the qualifications and the image to help me get into my dream job.

Chloe Light is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University.  She can be found on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-light-358421172/ and Instagram @Chloe_lightbulb

Why a career in PR interests me

My first introduction to the PR industry was reaping the benefits of free concert tickets and backstage passes to meet many artists thanks to my aunty working as the Sales and Promotions Manager in Cool FM and Downtown Radio for many years. As Morris and Goldsworthy (2016; pp.13) highlighted a career in PR can be glamorous, it can “involve lunches, receptions, events and parties which include many different people at a range of different locations.” Without really knowing what the PR industry entailed I knew that it was a very social job and the idea of having a social and interactive job piqued my initial interest around the time of my A-Levels at school.

PRcareer

I pride myself on being a strong communicator, someone who isn’t afraid to speak out and I find it quite easy to chat to new people which I have realised is a vital characteristic needed to work in the PR industry. From my placement, especially, I have learned that PR practitioners must be confident when speaking to a range of people. For example, throughout my placement I had to present to clients, negotiate with journalists and liaise with third parties such as designers and videographers. Naturally, I am quite a bubbly and outgoing person and I felt that I thrived in these situations. I’ve learnt that having the ability to communicate effectively is paramount in the PR industry and luckily this is something that comes effortlessly to me.

 

Despite always being interested in public relations and enjoying my first two years of CMPR it wasn’t until I completed my placement at a PR agency in Belfast that concreted for me that a career in PR was the correct choice. The interest and time my bosses invested in me has definitely instilled my love for public relations and its many difference aspects, which brings me on to my next reason as to why a career in PR interests me – variety. According to Jane Johnston and Clara Zawawi, there are over 20 potential roles and areas that you can specialise within the PR industry (Johnston & Zawawi 2004, p. 8). From creating billboard campaigns, to writing manifestos and front-page newspaper press releases to help host All Party Group meetings in Stormont and delivering social media workshops, for me one of the most attractive aspects of working in PR is the variety of work you do each day. Every day of my placement was different, every client is paying for your expertise in a different area of PR and for me this kept me interested and motivated in the job. I am not the type of person who could do the same thing in an office, 9-5 Monday to Friday and that is most definitely not the case with PR. Although I have realised that working in PR can mean working long hours for example, working 9-5 in the office then attending an event at 7pm. Therefore, the ability to be flexible is also key in this industry.

PRcollage

The knowledge and experience I gained throughout my placement year has been invaluable and has cemented a solid foundation for the beginning of my career in PR. From my placement I have realised that the ability to social network is essential. Being an extremely sociable and chatty person anyway I took to this quite easily and have already made contacts in the industry through meeting different clients, journalists and reporters when emailing and calling them to sell in press releases and stories. I think my personality suits the sociable side of PR and thus is another accrediting factor in me wanting to pursue a career in PR.

1

One of the most appealing aspects of the industry for me, especially being 21 years old, is knowing that anywhere I travel to in the world I will be able to get a job in PR and use the knowledge I have gained at university. The idea of working in a different country, learning new skills and having endless opportunities to meet new people and experience different cultures excites me and in turn would definitely make me a more employable person. I believe that having a degree in PR can open many doors and offer many different areas to work in. Already through my placement I have worked with private sector, public sector and voluntary sector organisations. PR gives you the choice whether to work in a PR agency where you deal with many different clients and sectors or within the one company in the Communication, Marketing or PR department and I find this an appealing characteristic of the industry. PR is a combination of media related jobs and the versatility of the job deepens my love for the industry.

 

I believe in doing a job that has an impact on someone or something and throughout my placement I have learnt that PR professionals are highly sought after and respected, often having the last word on major decision makings. PR has become a necessity to any organisation now-a-days be it through crisis management, creating content or event management and it is ever-growing and adapting to keep up with current trends in today’s society. Companies rely on and trust in PR practitioners to improve their business or service to make them more creditable and successful.

career

Growing up I was always the leader, organiser and problem solver and little did I know that these attributes would stand by me when choosing my career. During my placement year when I met with clients, I instantly had to take control of the situation and act professionally and this is something that I found came quite naturally to me. Clients were paying for our company’s expertise and advice and thus it was key that we acted in a confident and professional manner. I enjoyed the professional side of the job and dressing appropriately.

 

Working in a busy and popular PR agency in Belfast meant that I had to multitask and manage many different clients and tasks at the same time and this allowed me to develop my time management skills and ability to know which tasks to prioritise to ensure deadlines were met. Luckily, I thrive on deadlines and knowing that I always had a target to meet by a certain date or time helped me stay focused, interested and engaged in the jobs I was working on. Although the industry, and in particular some clients, can be very demanding and fast paced I enjoy this pressured but exciting side of working in PR.

 

The ability to be creative and write captivating and engaging content is vital when it comes to working in PR. Throughout school writing was something that I enjoyed and has always been a strong point for me. During my placement my boss always talked me through the stages of writing press releases and the importance of attention to detail when doing so. Thus, I believe my writing ability has greatly developed and by the time my placement had finished I had written many press releases that ended up as front page stories in the Irish News, Belfast Telegraph and Newsletter, as well as helping to script video campaigns and write manifestos.

PR

An area of the industry that I grew to love during placement was seeing through a project from the very beginning to the end. For example, the initial meeting with a client to discuss ideas for a Christmas billboard campaign to working with designers to create the visuals for the billboard, the copious amount of update meetings with the client in between to the finished result of seeing the billboards across the country. This instilled a great sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in me each time and I think achieving that is important in a job to stay focused and motivated.

 

In today’s society I believe crisis management is inevitable and is becoming a much bigger part of PR. If an agency can provide good crisis management expertise it makes it much more attractive to clients. The ability to acknowledge and identify problems is something that I find comes quite naturally to me and thus I do not panic when the situation arises. I think this is important as well as acting professionally when working in PR, especially when a client comes to you with a problem. I quite enjoy the buzz of working out a strategy to overcome the problem when the situation occurs.

 

Public Relations is constantly evolving and changing along with trends in society. It is exciting and fresh and there is no end to the number of tools and platforms to help improve PR practitioners daily. They need to keep up to date with social media, new technologies and trends and this is something that I find myself doing personally everyday through what I wear, what I watch on TV and social media outlets that I use.

2

Finally, I believe that the pinnacle to why a career in Public Relations interests me ultimately is the idea of working in teams and with many different people. I am a people person and thrive on being around lots of people. I enjoy the ethos of working with different groups of people and seeing the different skills they bring that all come together to create the finished product and end result. I look forward to pursuing my career in Public Relations once I graduate.

 

Niamh Mac Manus is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter – @niamh_mac_manus and Linked In – @NiamhMacManus

Why does a career in PR interest me?

“You could sell ice to the Eskimos.”

Although the correct term is ‘Inuit’, my nine-year-old self overlooked this faux pas in the Young Enterprise workshop as visions of world financial domination flooded my impressionable young mind. Before my eyes, my future as a brain surgeon and part-time lawyer morphed into the ambiguous and unimaginative title of ‘someone who sells things’.

Young Richard Branson

Primary school Georgia: The next Richard Branson

As you can tell, I was never a particularly focused child. A magpie at heart, I latched onto whichever professional prospect shone brightest to me at that fleeting moment in time. However, the Great British Education System in all its stark realities quelled my buoyancy by bringing me down to earth with a dull yet resounding thump.

“Yes, Drama is all well and good, but science is where all the jobs are.”

“Business is a cut-throat world. Have you considered teaching?”

“Medicine applicants discuss uni here, law applicants there. English? I suppose you could go with the undecided group.”

In the words of John Lennon, “When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty odd years / Then they expect you to pick a career.” How was a will-o’-the-wisp like me supposed to commit to a lifetime of 9 to 5? Sifting anxiously through university prospectuses, one course subtly glinted to me despite the matte paper: Communication Management and Public Relations. I knew I could communicate, but PR? There’s a thought.

4 years later, I type this essay as a fully-fledged, eager beaver, signed sealed and delivered CMPR student – Public Relations career, I’m yours. Here’s what made this job-market Jezebel into an honest PR professional in the making.

Full disclosure, my indecision did not preclude me from the part-time work necessary to thrive in the 21st century – iPhones don’t grow on trees after all! Working in the opening crew for Northern Ireland’s first self-serve Frozen Yoghurt shop, I was adept at communicating its novel concept to all strata of society wanting their dairy-free fix. Whilst I’ve spilt more 10 litre tubs of liquid froyo than I care to recall, any tricky customers or awkward new starts were sent straight to me and left smiling. In a grassroots way, this was Public Relations 101.

Latte

My first attempt at a latte – perhaps the real reason I stuck to manning the till

As Public Relations is a tool used across nearly every industry, my flighty nature soars in this profession. Almost every industry is realising the effectiveness of Public Relations to their business, so successful PR practitioners can flit between locations and lines of business until they decide to make nest in a particular niche. With skills stretched and knowledge and connections amassed, the hard work will only serve to show your versatility.

PR is often tarred with the brush of impracticality, when in reality it is highly skill-based. The aforementioned skills and connections therefore are not only a desirable condition on job applications, but essential criteria. Many office-based jobs have set functions which rarely require upskilling from an employee unless new legislation or software requires it. A career in PR requires constant expertise updates, seldom through stuffy seminars but more likely through on the job training (often constructive criticism from experienced colleagues) and your own initiative. PR is a rare line of work where frequently asking questions and spotting gaps in your skillset is not an admission of weakness that will adversely affect your progression, but in fact shows ambition and an aptitude for successfully navigating an ever-evolving external landscape. Curious cats might find a reprieve working in a PR department and I would be happy to have them as colleagues (and long as they can give me tips on Google analytics)!

Daljit Bhurji in ‘Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals’ cites being a prerequisite quality of a successful PRP is that of a technology enthusiast, as PR often involves near-constant interaction over as many platforms pertaining to an organisation as possible. Now if you ask my mother, I have this in the bag, as in her opinion I’m in danger of all manner of health problems due to overuse of my phone. Whilst I beg to differ, I can agree that technological literacy is a trait that has been baked into me, as I bridge the cut off between ‘Millennial’ and ‘Gen-Z’ with a 1997 birth date. I have grown from MSN Messenger and Bebo into a stereotypical fervent Instagrammer, as expected of a 22-year-old. I love (attempting to) master different media platforms – why not get paid for it?

Even from my experience in an in-house capacity, PR practitioners are called to be all things to all people, with no daily workload the same. Yes, come Monday morning I’ll be wholeheartedly belting 9 to 5 in the shower, but in my opinion, the variety of PR work is second to none. Firstly, not only do you need to work cohesively with your own team, I believe cultivating personal connections in each business department can allow successful circumvention of internal issues and also provide expert sources for credible communications with external parties. Secondly, you are one of very few parties in an organisation given the proverbial hall-pass to step foot outside the office walls in everyday activity. After placement year, I cannot tell you how liberating a drive to a business park in Omagh can be as you smugly wave goodbye to your desk-bound colleagues! Thirdly, PR work keeps your ego in check, as you’ll be expected to chip in with anything and everything, especially when running events. Be prepared for early starts and late nights, parallel parking vans and sellotaping 500 sunglasses under chewing gum riddled chairs (don’t ask). However, facilitating focus groups in different areas of the country with a healthy lunch allowance, setting up photo opportunities in fishing boats and glamming up for awards ceremonies do more than make up for the grind!

PR Professional

A day in the life of a PR Professional

Being on the front lines of an organisation’s outward interactions gives Public Relations practitioners (PRPs) invaluable insight into how best to shape the future of a company, as they surmount mountains and molehills of disasters, frequently spotting them ahead of time to maintain a company’s image (just call me Olivia Pope). From this, PR is now being argued by modern scholars to be a highly effective management tool to inform organisational strategy. The dynamism of PR cannot outweigh the satisfaction of being able to look at an improved organisation and silently patting yourself on the back for a job well done.

Any Public Relations practitioner worth their salt will be able to spin an issue to present it favourably to particular publics. However, for a sustainable PR career, one must be able to do this authentically by genuinely connecting with interested parties, using credible sources to do so. Being stubbornly optimistic and grounded in a strong belief system, I am genuinely so excited to get down to the nitty gritty and sincerely endeavour to improve business operations. Sound a bit wide-eyed? From a cursory Google, Impactreporting.co.uk cites that “94% of Gen-Z think companies should address critical issues” and “55% of consumers are willing to pay extra for products or services from companies that have dedicated social impact plans”. Idealism is the new realism.

On this point, one of the largest employers for PRPs is the voluntary sector. I have always wanted to use my skills to benefit of others, so a PR career allows me to do so every day. Through the now broadly recognised importance of Corporate Social Responsibility, many businesses are creating mutually beneficial partnerships with charities spearheaded by PR departments. I find this issue so interesting I have decided to investigate it in greater depth through my dissertation in the hopes of carrying it forward into my PR career, either on behalf of or alongside a worthy cause.

Though less glamorous, Public Relations is more frequently being utilised in internal communications to motivate workers and involve them in the company’s vision for the future. From placement year, I learnt that truly motivated employees don’t feel like cogs in a machine, but valued contributors linked up with other players to achieve a shared goal. A PR job is perfectly placed for this, inextricably linked to an organisation’s vision, embodying it by giving it a voice and occasionally lending it a face. My PR ‘dream job’ isn’t specific, I only hope to be fortunate enough to immerse myself in a passionate, practical and positive company that’s willing to listen to others in other to maximise its potential.

And that, dear readers, is why a career in PR interests me. Have I sold you yet?

 

Georgia Galway is a final year student in Communication Management and Public Relations (BSc) at Ulster University. She can be found at – Instagram: @imthatgalwaygirl and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/georgia-galway-24a568153/

 

 

Is PR a Girls World?

According to The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), 92% of PR Practitioners in Northern Ireland are female. 92%!!! And as I look around those who are also studying my degree (Communication Management and Public Relations) I don’t doubt this statistic whatsoever. With only a handful of boys studying the course it led me to wonder why this industry is so female dominated and why we aren’t doing more to try and change this?

Can you imagine the uproar if this statistic was the other way around? The industry would be criticised for being sexist and would likely generate a lot of negative attention.

So why are there so few males in PR?

In my opinion, the most prominent reason for the lack of males in the PR industry is that it is not deemed to be the most ‘masculine’ profession.

Based on portrayals of PR practitioners in movies Dr. Jane Johnston, Professor in Journalism and PR at Bond University, coined the term ‘The Samantha Syndrome’, based on the character Samantha Jones from Sex and the City.

CM1

 

This refers to the misconception that PR is all about being a pretty girl who parties at events every day, travels across the world and gets to work closely with celebs. I can tell you first-hand from my placement year that working in PR is NOT always the glamourous and luxurious lifestyle that we see portrayed on TV (as much as many of us may wish that it was).

Matthew Alexander, Director of Matthew Group Limited who specialise in Personal and Entertainment Publicity, recently said, “I feel there is a lot of encouragement and guidance for women to go into men-led fields however there are notably fewer programs that encourage men to build a career in female-led fields like PR and nursing…”. I couldn’t agree with this statement more. Surely, we, as communication professionals should be trying to eradicate this misconception and try to bridge the gender inequality in our industry?

There is so much more to PR than what is portrayed by the media. Through my previous role as a Communication and Social Media Placement Student in the utilities sector, I gained a wealth of experience in the different aspects of PR. One minute I could be writing content for the company website and the next I could be on site, in the rain, wearing a hard hat and hi-vis vest photographing work vans. What is so feminine about that? I think that it is so important that we promote all aspects of PR to paint a clearer, more accurate, picture of the industry so that men are not discouraged from taking this career path.

CM2

So, what other aspects of PR are there?

Depending on the nature of the company you are working for there is a vast array of roles and duties that you can undertake. I’ll only go into detail on a few so as not to bore you but you will get the general idea.

-Crisis Management

If you can keep a cool head when under intense pressure and have impeccable problem-solving skills, Crisis Management may interest you. Crisis Managers develop emergency plans and oversee their implementation if, and when, necessary. For example, if an oil spill occurs,  the Crisis Management team would step in with a strategy as to how to rectify the incident as best as possible while also trying to maintain the Company’s image.

-Public Affairs

Perhaps Politics is more up your street. If that’s the case, Public Affairs may be the way to go! Public Affairs Practitioners manage a company’s stakeholder relations, such as politicians and local communities by engaging with these groups regularly regarding policies and legislation.

-Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

CSR improves the company’s brand image in terms of ethics, for example, environmental management, improving working conditions and employee volunteering. While on my placement year, I had the opportunity to volunteer one day per month (as did all other employees) as part of the company’s CSR initiative. I think this really gave the employees a sense of purpose knowing that the company valued the charities so much that they were enabling employees to take time out of their busy schedules to get involved. Additionally, it makes for a great social media post on the company’s accounts helping to improve the company’s image.

So there you have it, a quick guide as to what PR involves. I can only encourage you to research the industry more. Research each area in detail, you might surprise yourself and find something that really interests you.

 

Chantelle McKeever is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @ChantelleMcKee5