Now an Assistant Account Executive at Red

I am pleased to announce that I have accepted a position at Red as an Assistant Account Executive in the technology team! I believe this role will compliment my existing skills and will allow me to develop further as I make the transition from student to a fully fledged PR Professional. I shall be beginning my new role mid-June where I shall be located in London full-time.

Red has always been one of the PR agencies which has stood out in the PR industry due to its highly creative approaches to fulfilling client objectives, which has led to a number of different awards. In 2011 it was awarded “PR Agency of the Year” by Marketing Week and this year it was awarded “UK Consultancy of the Year” by The Holmes Report.

After the initial graduate application and assessment day I was interviewed at Red by two of the agencies’ Managing Directors. An ordeal which should have been nerve racking but the agencies’ flat structure soon shone through as I was eased into a job interview which was a conversation rather than an interrogation. I quickly became aware that the job being offered, the clients available and the sort of work they do would be perfect.

Deciding which company I should work for is heart over mind decision for me. My initial emotional reaction to a workplace will invariably be a large contributing factor to my final decision.

I am gracious and fortunate to have found a graduate job before I have even left University. However it did take a lot of work. Through the final few months of University I applied to roughly twelve different agencies (all graduate schemes); job applications, telephone interviews, assessment days, real world interviews, work experience – I did the lot. I got a few rejections, some interest but my final decision would have always been Red.

My days as a student have come to a close. University is over and a new job awaits. I cannot wait to start working for Red and I am delighted that they want me to be a member of their talented team.

Its time for me to prove my worth in the PR industry.

Don’t fall at the first hurdle…

Elly Russell is a final year student at the University of Brighton who is studying (BA) Hons Business Studies with Marketing. She has a strong interest in Digital Marketing, loves scuba diving and is starting her search for a job for after she has graduated. She has kindly provided this article for the blog giving job advice for the newly graduated.

As a final year graduate at the University of Brighton, I am fully aware of the quiet panic that is going through every soon-to-be graduate’s minds at the moment (along with passing exams) – how to I nail the search for graduate jobs? This is a tricky area and so many people make such stupid mistakes that can so easily be avoided. I’m here to give you some tips on cardinal sins that people are still making and for you not to do the same. According to a study conducted by The Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania, there are three mistakes that were the most detrimental to succeeding in gaining a graduate job.

39.9% of graduates were not dressed properly for the interview
This is something that can be so easily fixed. This is a professional situation when you are invited to a company’s office for an interview or Assessment Centre, therefore you must look the part as this is going to contribute towards their first impression of you.

Think about what you intend to wear and go even smarter. This means a suit with a shirt and tie for the boys. The use of an iron is essential and make sure there is no evidence of novelty socks, as hilarious as they are. For girls this is a bit more tricky; keep it simple and if you don’t think you can handle wearing heels then don’t. It’s never worth risking falling on your face in front of your new employer so stick to what you know. Festival bands, tattoos and piercings should be covered up as much as you can – it is not necessarily considered professional and employers are not going to be interested in them so it’s worth keeping them hidden for the day.

29.1% of graduates are late for the interview
This is another area that can be so easily avoided. Aim to arrive at the office 10 minutes before you are expected to show up, so you appear punctual and you can gather your thoughts and your nerves before you go in. If you are travelling by car, keep up with the traffic reports and obviously make sure you have enough petrol and a sat nav if necessary. Parking can take a while as well, so I would leave the house 30 minutes earlier than expected to avoid any unforeseen hiccups and you can still arrive to the interview on time. For those of you who are travelling by train, make sure you don’t miss your train times and try and get an earlier arrival so you can find the office in good time.

25.9% are not prepared for the interview
This is probably one of the most damaging mistakes a graduate can make, as this can imply a lack of interest in the role and creates a negative impression before you have even given them the opportunity to show them what you are capable of. Look up all the information you can about the company, in particular the field that you are going to be working in. It is also worth knowing what competitors they level with and what their angle is in the market in comparison to the company’s capabilities. Sign up to their newsletters and request a brochure if you can, so you have an idea of what their trading operations are. Make sure you have some questions that you are going to ask the company; prepare about 10 or so and memorise them so you are ready when they ask you: ‘Do you have any questions for us?’

So there you have it. By conquering these, you are already ahead of most of the competition in the graduate jobs market and you don’t make yourself look like a fool! Sounds simple enough, eh?

 

Review of Microsoft’s new social network ‘so.cl’

After years of being beaten by the competitors Microsoft have finally decided to join in with the social networking revolution with the release of their network so.cl (so cool… get it?). The network is meant to target young people as a ‘sort of’ academic resource. Users on so.cl share stories with each other which sees Microsoft’s social network become an amalgamation of Digg, Twitter and Google+.

Logging into so.cl is a quick process as you activate your account with either a Facebook or Windows Live login. Once you have done this your profile is active and you are able to start posting content straight away. Once logged in users are able to search for stories, each search then publicly displays on each users’ profile. This isn’t an invasion of privacy but instead underpins the purpose of so.cl, to search and share with other users.

Every social network allows search, sharing and contribution. These are the values behind the web 2.0 era but simply describe function. A social network is not born to create money but instead fulfil a purpose and attract users by being unique. In terms of so.cl none of features are innovative. Posting status updates, adding comments and sharing media files are common place on every social network.

Therefore so.cl seems like a weak attempt by Microsoft to enter the social networking revolution, seven years after the horse has bolted. Like the network was created in a poorly equipped lap which built a clean but poorly functioned network. Just why did Microsoft bother creating so.cl? I’m not sure they even know as the market positioning is confusing at best.

It is separate to Windows Live, doesn’t integrate Microsoft services and its functions can be found across other well established networks. You can connect your so.cl account with Facebook (which makes the idea of so.cl being a ‘Facebook killer’ impossible) or connect with Windows Live (which has seen huge declines in activity over the last four years). The only social network so.cl threatens is Quora but even the hype around Quora has recently died to a timid hush.

Microsoft has yet again arrived late to the party but in reality so.cl is not their first social network. Windows Live has been around for donkey’s years but over the last few it has seen a rapid decline in activity and account registrations. People simply do not use Windows Live like they used to – better choices now exist on the market. Without a doubt Microsoft’s most popular social network is Xbox Live, yes, it is a social network. In Live subscriptions alone Microsoft rakes in over $1bn – insane!

What Microsoft may be attempting with so.cl is a new era of search. A time when people don’t ask search engines for answers but instead each other. However this already happens across every social network which makes so.cl seem pointless. The work Google is already doing with semantic search blows this tiny so.cl project by Microsoft clean out of the water.

Don’t take this pessimistic article about so.cl as truth though. Try it out yourself, you can even follow me.

Will I use so.cl regularly? Unlikely. It already seems very dated.

That’s it then, I’ve finished University

That is University. It didn’t last too long. Before the first year had even begun the clock had already starting ticking, like unlikely footsteps towards a graduation ceremony. Before you know it University is over. No more assignments, exams or nights out. A move which in all proportions shakes the very foundations of a student’s sole as education has been everything. From the age of three I have found myself subject to the education system. It comes with a hierachy of teachers playing god (especially in secondary school) and University being bridge between studying and the ‘real world’. By the time one hits their early twenties they have usally had enough – I’m twenty two.

Education is one thing but now the hard work really begins. Obtaining a degree, even though the process was mostly affirmable, was a necesity. In terms of the public relations industry a degree has prepared me to build up key skills, understand industry issues, growth patterns and has increased my contacts. Lets not forget that it was also through studying at the University of Gloucestershire that I was accepted as an intern at Microsoft.

The hard work begins with practising public relations, driving results for clients and to build up a strong portfolio of knowledge and experience. Within five years time the degree on my CV will be meaningless unless I can prove my worth by practising public relations. In the beginning this will mean living at home but hopefully, as my situation becomes more stable, I’ll be able to move out.

The biggest loss of University will be the people I have met. In some ways the blow has already been softened, by the time I returned for my fourth final year many friends of mine had already left Cheltenham. Therefore losing contact with people has been a staggered approach but not one I wish to repeat. I expect to keep in contact with the majority of people from my final year, especially through Facebook but undoubtedly I may not see some faces for a few years or ever again. Scary.

For those student who read my blog who still have time at University left – enjoy it. Make the most of your time because the clock is already ticking. There is nothing more daunting than being forced into the real world, nothing more exhilarating either.

Of course the only pressing decision I have to make now is how this blog should evolve. Its title is ‘Musings of a PR Student’ which clearly cannot stand for much longer as the PR student days are close to an end. So a name change is certainly due; should a small design change also take place? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

An insightful, intellectual and interesting chat with Neville Hobson

 

Neville Hobson

Neville Hobson first began blogging in 2002, a hobby which grew to incorporate how a business should communicate using digital communication channels. Today he has over 25 years’ experience in public relations, marketing communication and financial relations. His acclaimed statis is clearly exampled by his popular Twitter profile boasting over 10,000 followers.

Today my class and I were fortunate enough to meet him thanks to our lecturer David Phillips. Due to unforseen circumstances involving smoke and a broken car Neville Hobson met the class via Skype but this by no means detracted from him sharing his knowledge and insight. You can read his views of this event in his latest blog post, which is accompanied with a rather fetching picture of my face (pixalation is a godsend in this case).

During the one hour discussion which involved members of the class asking questions relating to the PR industry Neville Hobson shared his views concerning digital communication, intellectual property laws, ethics and his own online activities. Out of all the discussions my main focus point was the PR industry’s approach to online measurement.

I’m still unsure to whether Neville Hobson knows that I partially analysed his Twitter feed within my dissertation to example some basic techniques behind Latent Semantic Analysis (for more information concerning this technique visit this post). So listening to his views, especially his distaste for Klout, reinforced just how critical measurement is for the PR industry.

The insights he shared concerning measurement were rather similar to mine in the sense that agencies ‘in the know’ are attempting to reach their own standardisations, especially Edelman but pinpointing how reputation should be measured is difficult. Do 5000 Facebook ‘likes’ equate to reputation? Does positive sentiment lead to good reputation? These questions deserve blog posts in their own right.

A couple of members from the class put a heavy focus on the social connotations of social media. How these platforms could effect society as a whole through allowing collaboration in business, schools and in our personal lives. Neville Hobson indicated that it is still the case that the minority of people use these social tools but that minority is growing. Social media should compliment our work rather than become the main objective.

It was a very informative class and a wonderful opportunity to speak with one of the thought leaders in the PR industry. Perhaps the most important question I should have posed to Neville Hobson is “Do you fancy meeting in the future for a beer?”. Hopefully one day.

 

Wallit is a new Social Network which allows Virtual Wall Collaboration

A new social networking app, Wallit, shot up in popularity yesterday after it was featured in the Apple’s Stores “New and Noteworthy” section. The application allows users to create virtual walls which are locked to specific locations using the iPhone’s GPS locator. These walls can then be viewed by anybody logged into the Wallit app and be used for social collaboration.

The latest version of Wallit introduces a character index system which means walls accumilate their own character points which indicates the popularity of the wall and the social networking influence of the users posting on it. This means that Wallit uses an algorythm in order to understand your influence across Facebook and Twitter then applies this to a rating on Wallit.

Even though the app only went live on the 6th March it already boasts over 700 virtual walls with users using each wall as collaborating points across home and business. Over 127 countries are now using Wallit which probably means the initial starting figure of 700 virtual walls will soon be blown out of the water!

The Apple Store is right – Wallit is a noteworthy social network for us to keep our eyes on. At this stage the app is far too new in order to be used for any serious business means. However, once the userbase as grown larger, it could easily become a useful network to use at:

Events
You could create a virtual wall for people to collaborate with during an event. May be a good way for people to meet each other and introduce promotions.

Shopping
If you are a shop you could introduce a virtual wall to the high street to attract users of Wallit into making purchases.

Business
Allow your co-worked to talk with each other using a virtual wall. Wallit could be particularly useful for those who work in larger business and wish to build relationships with the colleagues they share a floor with.

Advertising
Could Wallit eventually introduce an era of GPS targeted advertising? Wallit could cause push up messages advertising nearby offers. Not to say that this is a good use of Wallit – GPS advertising would be annoying.

Wallit is a very new social network at the moment but it is worthwhile trying it out. Will it stand the test of time? Download it and try it out.

The Rise of Voucher Codes

The UK economy is in the midst of a recession, taxes are sky high and consumers are increasingly relying on voucher codes for their shopping. New research by Savoo shows that since 2009 there has been an increase of almost 40% in the number of people searching online for offers.

Savoo’s research goes on to show a staggering 85% of women surveyed would use a discount code or coupon in supermarkets if it meant they would get a better price – perhaps indicating the UK is heading towards the extreme couponing culture of the US. Traditionally polite Britons are also changing their attitudes to using voucher codes, with 80% of respondents not being embarrassed to make a saving on the items they purchase compared with 70% two years ago.

The voucher code market has one serious problem though, competition. Over the last couple of years we have seen the rise of Groupon, Living Social and Voucher Codes (which I personally use as an iPhone app). All these services are location based, have their terms and conditions and rely upon tempting users through price rather than product. A noteworthy point considering the popularity of the luxary goods sector who are still seeing growth despite the tough economical times.

I can vouche for the popularity of the voucher. As a final year student who has only has a month left of University voucher codes are proving to be golddust when wanting to treat oneself to a luxary. This is exactly the point though – during tough times we like to treat ourselves.

What will this mean for the voucher code market after the recession?