The day you stop learning in PR, is the day you should stop practicing

University library

Learning is for life, if you’re not learning at least one new thing each day then it’s time for a change. Part of this means having the confidence to throw yourself into situations, occasionally opting for the ‘agree now, learn how to later’ approach. If you’ve got a drive and passion, an inquisitive mind, and a highly controlled inner ego that only wants to be recognised for high quality work, then these are some of the ingredients needed to succeed in the PR industry.

In reality though, what do any of these things mean? It’s emotive. If you were entering other professions such as law or accountancy, then you would have a logical framework to follow for entering the profession. A particular set of qualifications or work experiences needed, even a form of competency framework that shows you the core skills needed to progress from A to B.

In this respect the PR industry needs to work to identify the core competencies required in a role, the various ways to enter the profession, along with an effort on Continual Professional Development (CPD). To my knowledge the piece of work that gets closest to outlining the capabilities required in PR is Global Alliance’s ‘The Global Capabilities Framework Project’ – although do leave a comment if there is more recent research to read.

Both industry bodies, the PRCA and CIPR, offer CPD programmes and to complicate matters further, various agencies run their own development programmes who have accreditation with either industry body. Given this complicated landscape of qualifications and CPD programmes – how do you make sense of everything?

PRCA Industry vs. Academics Debate

To (eventually) help find an answer to this question, the PRCA ran their first ‘Industry vs. Academics’ debate in London last month. Chaired by Stephen Waddington of Ketchum, the panellists were:

Faith Howe, Director & Partner, Head of Talent Development, UK and Middle East at FleishmanHillard

Chris Owen, Director, M&C Saatchi PR

Dr. Nicky Garsten, PR and Communications Programme Director, Greenwich University

Robert Minton-Taylor, Senior Lecturer, School of Marketing, Public Relations and Communications, Leeds Becket University

A deliberately contentious title to draw in the crowds – It worked. Around 120 people filled the room, a mixture of academics and practitioners, many of who have gained industry recognition and influence for their dedication to the subject. It was a unique opportunity to catch up with old friends and contacts; all united in the belief that the PR industry needs to formalise education and career development.

The event led with the question ‘Is it necessary to have a PR degree?’ and obviously the answer is no… But the panel’s two main focuses were how people enter the profession and dealing with attrition later in a PR career. Particularly how PR education is often guilty of focusing too heavily on theory without giving practice enough attention. For a full write-up of the event visit Marcel’s blog.

The evening was not short of discussion and occasional moments of debate, particularly from some passionate supporters (mostly on Twitter) who saw PR degrees as providing the critical foundation knowledge for entering the profession. Although where higher education can provide a theoretical foundation of knowledge, it was noted many students lack the necessary ‘soft skills’ needed for activities such as holding conversations on the phone.

Even though I invested £20,000+ in a PR degree, it’s clear that there are many ways you can enter into PR. These days you could argue ‘degree required’ entry-level roles actually inadvertently filter for the same old ‘blueprint’ candidates. In this area the fabulous work of the Taylor Bennet Foundation to get Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) graduates into full-time work is critical – the fact this initiative is needed at all is a little embarrassing, why isn’t the industry diverse already?

What’s the answer?

The big question students were asking at the event was ‘Have I wasted my time and money on a PR degree?’ – my answer to that is no! I’ve blogged about that before here, my PR degree has paid off well for me so far and has probably accelerated my career journey in many ways.

There were many answers to the ‘industry vs. academics’ debate:

  1. To improve the quality of people entering the PR industry, there needs to be a better working relationship between practitioners and academics (often there is a blend between the two)
  2. There is a responsibility of managers and HR teams to recognise the importance of accepting a wide range of candidates to PR roles – don’t just get drawn towards the same white middle-class degree laden mould
  3. Despite the innovation brought by digital over the last 11 years, we’re still slow to accept the fact developments in automation (among other things) could have severe consequences to our bottom lines
  4. Given the importance of grounding PR work in theory, in my view there isn’t enough theory being updated to account for how digital has changed everything
  5. There are many ways to enter the PR industry, each way in relies on experience and eventually contacts

Ultimately, the day you stop learning in PR, is the day you should stop practicing.

Reconnecting theory and practice in public relations

In many situations public relations practitioners and academics are isolated from each other. I’ve experienced this first-hand; graduating from a public relations degree in 2012 which was 80% theoretical, to working for a number of organisations who seek experience.

On my career journey I can count on one hand how many practitioners I met who had an in-depth knowledge of the industry’s theory and could apply this to working day examples. This isn’t to say unless you understand the theory you can’t carry out good work, but it does present a number of difficulties (in my mind):

  • Areas of contention remain without absolution (e.g. debate over AVEs)
  • The stagnation of popular theories (mostly from the 80s) as they are not challenged in a digital environment
  • The PR skills gap (are courses teaching the correct skills? Are we attracting the right talent?)

Most importantly, practitioners and academics can learn from each other.

To plug this gap the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has started a Facebook Group community which 72 hours later boasts 250+ members, 100s comments, and 15,000+ words. The project was initiated by Stephen Waddington who explains in his blog post why cooperation between academia and practice is needed.

One of the initial barriers to entry I can see for practitioners and academics alike is the time it takes to debate these issues. If you’re working 50+ hour weeks it can be difficult fitting anything else extra in – I’m not sure how many have found the time already. Anyway, on the train home last night I contributed the following:

It’s thanks to the genius of David Phillips and Richard Bailey that I’m a practitioner today – it feels good to be contributing to these discussions and my primary focus is continuing to build digital practices into the workflow of PR. This includes testing theory to work in digital contexts, securing the future of PR through upskilling workforce/students, and challenging the ‘traditional’ practice areas of PR in the marketing communications mix.

In exploring the relationship between academia and practitioner I believe I can offer a fresh perspective to this group having been a recent grad of the CIPR Approved Course system (2012). It may be due to my particular skillset, but my contribution to agencies has so far been the result of my technical skills; network analysis, website builds, data analysis/measurement, etc.

In this sense I’ve contributed towards client work by providing agencies skillsets that are traditionally ‘new’ but none of these skills were taught on my PR course. Why? Probably because when the course was designed these skills were not a requirement. Not to say that the degree was meaningless, I apply it every working day – but I felt the gap was with the course. Having said that my dissertation was on semantic analysis…

Grads need new skills and increasingly this is more about the whole marcomms mix than just media relations. If we’re trying to bridge the divide between theory and practice, let’s make an effort to apply this to digital practice areas as well.

Before any smart readers flag it I’m aware that part of the industry’s problem may be a semantic one; we really shouldn’t be defining practitioners and academics as separate groups. I consider myself both, and the best academics I’ve met have a solid track record of advising organisations.

Why a Public Relations (PR) degree is worth your time and money

Printing newspapers

My parents have three sons. All three of us have achieved first class degrees, except mine isn’t in law or science, it’s a public relations degree. A degree I would describe as 50/50 academic and vocational. It’s for this reason that I’ve never had a problem with employment.

Before I graduated I had a job waiting and it’s been like that ever since. Every month I’ve had a salary hit my account as a direct result of PR related work. I don’t intend to boast. I’m from the University of Gloucestershire class of 2012 – entering education as the recession laid agencies to waste. The world hadn’t recovered on graduation.

Like most, I had little understanding of PR before studying. It was a last minute choice after my passion for computer science was extinguished after seeing a class of overweight sweaty males tapping away at computers during a university open day. I escaped to my true passion. The one I could not live without; writing.

A journalist at the University of Lincoln explained how most people live their life in a box: they drive to work in a box, type in front of a box, go home to watch the box, and then eventually end their life in a box. A life of a journalist would allow you to escape the box.

I was sold. However, had real concerns about choosing journalism as a degree.

So instead opt’d for PR after being convinced by the top-class teaching at the University of Gloucestershire. Crucially my degree also had the backing of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). An institution that is pushing the PR industry forward and isn’t afraid to join important debates. Alongside the CIPR was the PR student community driven magazine, Behind The Spin, of which I’ve just been made an associate editor.

My degree was probably cheaper than yours, tuition fees stood at £3000 a year (plus accommodation costs). Today a PR degree will cost you up to £9000 a year and that’s for an industry whose average salary is £33,680. Whilst other professions will earn you more, I’m willing to bet that employability in PR will be higher than other subjects such as law or English. Although this is an assumption.

My own course had a sandwich year, which was a one year placement in industry. Without a doubt this year is worth it. In my case I was earning a decent salary and could wave decent work experience on my CV to put me a step ahead of ‘academic experience only’ competition. My sandwich year also kept me in plentiful supply of cigarettes and alcohol for the final year of University! The first habit I’ve now kicked. The second has flourished.

So yes. Big success story. Sound the trumpets. A PR degree will give you glory, as it did for me.

Maybe.

I cannot praise the value of a PR degree enough but also realise that it’s been a while since I was a student – so how has the standard CIPR accredited degree changed? Also, the PR industry is changing so rapidly, is it possible that now other degrees are becoming more important for the survival of the industry? Ultimately, PR’s first aim is to win the budget battle in the company boardroom; by proving its value.

My role today is purely digital and social media. I work in an integrated team that offers online and offline solutions. Just because it’s integrated doesn’t mean that it’s balanced, digital projects keep coming. It may just be that the computer science degree I first rejected is becoming more important than my PR based skills. The amount of online data that digital teams need to chew through to reach client solutions is astounding and growing in complexity. PR degrees must offer in-depth digital marketing training; including social media, search engine optimisation and online advertising to be of real value.

So you tell me, are PR degrees still worth it today? I hope so. But only if digital accounts for 50% of work. And yes, the other half should all be about creative writing, media relations and researching.

I wrote this blog post after being inspired by Live Love Laugh PR’s ‘10 blog post ideas for PR bloggers

Do you require excellent writing skills in PR?

The below is an extract from an email conversation I recently had with a student considering changing their course, instead to follow a career in the PR industry. After replying, I thought this might be of interest to readers of the blog, so here we go. It’s brutally honest in places…

… to this end, don’t let this blog allure the PR industry. I spoke to an experienced peer of mine last week that boasts 35+ years in the industry. Starting in the 1980s, working through the 90s, he now finds himself in the position where most of his colleagues are dead. In his words, ‘The human body is only able to take so much, many couldn’t take it, and only a few of us are left in adequate health’.

The hours in PR are long (10+ hour days common), plenty of monotonous research, varying/questionable pay grades across all agencies and an unstable media environment, usually resulting in low job security. 90% of the time the industry is not glamorous, and despite the positive vibe of my blog, my own moods some days can be horrifically depressive.

Feel put off? Don’t. I love the industry due to the countless developments in online and digital technology. In terms of corporate PR, the internet poses an all-encompassing opportunity and threat. C-suite executives require plenty of advice, brands need to re-think their communication strategies and all disciplines of marketing can now be delivered through PR.

Now that the scene is set, in answer to your specific questions:

My degree and employment required good writing skills. PR requires excellent writing skills. How do I improve?
I couldn’t read or write properly until I was eight years old. For years I was behind my primary school classmates because I have dyslexia. To this very day, dyslexia impacts my life in both good and bad ways. In some areas my mind is able to perform in the top 10% of adults (spacial and visual), in other areas it performs well-below average (auditory memory); because of this, writing has always been a passion and a chore. I strongly believe that the only way you improve is by reading a mixture of fiction and non-fiction books, delve into newspapers frequently, and learn the technical elements of the English language. You then need to try writing in different styles, start a blog or write a private diary. Writing is creative, even if you are just drafting the copy of a corporate website.

Can you recommend any books or websites that I need to read where PR or writing in general are concerned?
A fortnight ago I listened to the Intelligence Squared podcast (episode 30/09/2014), which featured Steven Pinker, one of the world’s leading authorities on language, mind and human nature. He is a professor of psychology at Harvard and has recently published ‘The Sense of Style’, a short and entertaining writing guide for the 21st century. Do have a listen – it may help. Other than that, the book I have on my bookshelf at home is this one on advanced English language. As mentioned in my question above, I also tend to read plenty. This includes articles by Christopher Hitchens, books by Charles Bukowski and PR specific conversations through this CIPR portal.

As an intern at an agency what sorts of things will I be asked to do/write?
Every agency is very different, put simply; some agencies treat their interns well through providing plenty of experiences, others will take advantage of free labour. Generally you will write press releases, monitor for media coverage, pitch to journalists, write marketing content, take part in brainstorming sessions, and make plenty of tea and coffee.

Most vacancies I have seen require experience which I don’t have. (I’ve heard most people take portfolios of their work to interviews).  What can I do to remedy this? 
My strong advice is that you make time for work experience; otherwise an employer has no guarantee that you can deliver the work they are interviewing you for. You will also have a very limited understanding of how to do PR. It is an extremely competitive job market; you need experience and glowing references. Even if you just manage to secure a few days experience, it is better than nothing. Most big agencies offer structured work experience programmes, which would also provide more clarity to some of the answers I’ve provided in this email.

Keene offering graduates public affairs experience

Keene_Logo

Today Keene is opening its doors to graduates, offering them the chance to experience life in a busy public affairs consultancy. It’s a role with a flexible timeframe and the application deadline is 28 Feb.

The best bit? You’ll get to work in the same office as me! Watch as I crave coffee 24/5, get excited over very geeky technology and most importantly, join me pushing digital to the max.

Full details on the Keene blog:
http://www.keenecomms.com/2014/02/keene-keen-to-help-a-graduate-kick-start-their-career-in-public-affairs/

Key Information:

Your role will be to assist our public affairs account team to provide government relations programmes for a number of our clients. You’ll have the opportunity to gain experience on a range of policy areas and play an important part in executing cutting edge, digital public affairs programmes. You may also have the opportunity to help out our public relations team too, which focuses on the travel sector.

We’re looking for a recent graduate with a 2:1 degree or higher who can start immediately.

Knowledge and Skills Required

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the legislative and policy making process in the UK and EU.
  • Show understanding of the role of government relations in the business environment.
  • Provide proof of a strong interest in or experience of relevant policy issues (see below).
  • Have a demonstrable passion for social media and digital publishing.
  • Have the ability to swiftly absorb complex information and apply this knowledge to seeing opportunities to influence policy and promote client aims.
  • Be able to communicate orally and write to a high standard.

Day to Day Activities

  • Media, political monitoring and intelligence gathering for clients across a range of policy areas including aviation, environment, manufacturing, technology, the public and voluntary sectors, foreign governments.
  • Provide regular written reports for clients on activities and analysis of relevant issues.
  • Draft political correspondence, briefing papers and policy submissions.
  • Report on conferences, select committee inquiries and other political events as required
  • Participate in internal discussions and debates
  • Conduct desk research for new business pitches
  • Carry out general office duties on request

General office

  • This is a voluntary position from which you will receive considerable training and experience.
  • Salary: expenses

Graduate PR Schemes 2014

flickr-4647211575-hdAre you looking to get into the PR industry? Then for the fifth consecutive year running Ben Cotton has compiled a list of some of the best PR graduate schemes in the UK. Lots of the deadlines are for the end of January; so start applying if you haven’t yet! Each year is a race for talent from fellow communication graduates and others from more diverse backgrounds.

I know what it’s like getting into the media industry and if you would like any advice then do get in touch. Before you start applying you might be interested to read one of my posts from last year:

With permission from Ben I’ve published the latest updated list below. However do visit his blog to check for updates or new openings.

[UPDATE 13 FEBRUARY 2014: Keene is offering graduates the chance to experience life in a busy public affairs consultancy. More information here.]

2014 PR GRADUATE SCHEMES – UPDATED 7 JANUARY 2014

Babel PR
Open
Closes: 28 February 2014

Blue Rubicon
Open
Closes: 31 January 2014

Burson-Marsteller
Does not run a PR graduate scheme, but is open for internships all year round, many of which lead to permanent roles.

Chime Comms
Open
Closes: 31 January 2014

Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Open
Closes: 7 January 2014

Diffusion
Open
Closes: 7 January 2014

Edelman
Open
Closes: 13 January 2014

Fishburn Hedges
Open: TBC
Closes: TBC

Fleishman-Hillard
Open:
Closes: 28 February 2014

Four Communications
Open
Closes: 31 January 2014

Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Open: TBC
Closes: TBC

Hotwire Group
Open
Closes: 27 January 2014

Ketchum Pleon
Closed

Lexis
Open: TBC
Closes: TBC

MHP Communications
Closed

Octopus Group
Open: TBC
Closes: TBC

Text100
Open
Closes: 15 February 2014

Weber Shandwick
Open
Closes: 31 January 2014

 

Settling in, Shaping up.

It was only once I had started work that I realised my grade from University; a first class honours. In utter disbelief I rapidly found myself reaching for the phone to hear the words from the horse’s mouth itself,

“Yes Mr White, a first. Congratulations”.

In terms of a public relations degree I’m not sure if this shows an academic inkling or instead a vocational determination. Either way, I passed University. Considering this achievement was worth over £20,000 I was surprised the graded sheet through the door was only 100gsm, no sign of gold. In terms of a public relations degree I have to come clean, the grade was an anti-climax. Achieving a first was brilliant but the main worth of the degree isn’t about the letters I can now put next to my name but instead the process. Studying at the University of Gloucestershire has prepared me well for the working world but now my attention is on learning the intricacies of working in a public relations agency.

It’s not my first attempt at agency life; Microsoft required me to take the hot seat in a client driven world but having now worked for two organisations I can confirm the biggest learning curve is the nitty gritty. Organisational skills, planning, note taking and report building take up a lot of time as an Assistant Account Executive.

“You first need to learn the basics. Walk before you can learn to run”.

A PR degree, if served correctly, will inspire enthusiasm but I’ve had to mellow my approach, slow my step – I must get the basics right first. Everyone has to go through this process and only those who do receive more responsibility. To be a graduate who has stepped out of University and into his first job is an increasingly rare occurrence. The chance to prove myself is now.

It is also my chance to meet and start conversations with journalists. After all, on occasions journalists find PR people useful and everyday a PR person can find journalists useful. It is a necessary media relationship and if utilised correctly is beneficial for both parties. A PR person will attempt to maintain clear messaging and a journalist must interpret them. It is a highly transparent business, a relationship which requires honesty and the understanding all content is for an audience. If the content isn’t relevant, the journalist won’t publish and the audience is saved from an irrelevant article.

The notion of a PR persons’ “little black book” has been replaced with LinkedIn and Twitter. Sometimes a journalist may implore these methods but essentially the media industry is reliant upon the traditional technologies of email and telephone. These are the two contact methods which take up the vast majority of my time and produce the best results. Essentially because they are efficient but mostly because the social networking landscape is so noisy. The most effective conversations are one-to-one, the best are face-to-face.

Each day I get to know a few more journalists and I continue to develop as a “PR Professional”. It is a fast paced, occasionally stressful and rewarding business. Settling into the “real world” requires one to ditch all preconceptions of working life and to instead embrace each day as a new beginning.

How I landed myself a Graduate PR Role

It is my aim in this blog post to provide an honest overview of my graduate scheme search and how I landed my upcoming graduate role at Red. This is an extremely “transparent” post which covers my experiences precisely.

 

It would be dishonest for me to say that the only graduate scheme I applied for was Red. Such an act would be lunacy in an economic environment drowned in talented graduates. For the last 3 to 4 years it has been necessary for upcoming University leavers to apply for as many job roles as possible. Graduate unemployment has hit its highest level since 1995; members of my class were not able to leave all their eggs in one basket.

The approach I took when applying for graduate schemes was to ask myself if they filled the below criteria:

  1. Would the role suit my interests?
  2. Does the organisation “feel” right for me?
  3. Will I be able to live on the salary?

When I started applying for schemes in January I made sure that I could answer ‘yes’ to each of these points. Thanks to a superb list of 2012 graduate schemes by Ben Cotton I had somewhere to start. Yet I only applied to organisations who appealed in some way to me. Each scheme I applied for provided me with different processes, different experiences and I am going to share some of what I learn’t within this post today.

Firstly it is important to note that the majority of public relations graduate schemes are not exclusively open to graduate public relations students. Indeed a graduate from any discipline can apply for a PR role. This doesn’t undervalue the worth of a PR degree (we are at an advantage with the skills taught to us) but instead makes the process a lot harder.

Edelman
I was one of the lucky thirty to make it through to the Edelman assessment day. Their process involved the initial application, telephone interview and finally the assessment day. Needless to say making it through to the assessment day alone was a an experience which I was thankful for. On the day I was interview by three individuals within the company, took part in a written assessment and did a presentation to a panel of eight employees. On the whole it went well, especially for my interview as I was rated in the top five.

Edelman was tricky though. Even though most of my assessment day was ranked highly I was considered to be ‘too good’ for their apprenticeship scheme. To this day I disagree with this observation as an experience in a multinational agency such as Edelman would have been extremely valuable. Yet it may not have pushed me considering my already in-depth experiences at Microsoft due to the structure of their scheme.

They clearly value their potential employees as HR assigned me to be interview by their Digital Team – a role which would have put my 9 months ahead of the apprenticeship scheme. Whilst my interview with them went really well I did not get the role with them – competition was too high and another individual (not necessarily a graduate) with more experience obtained the role.

Instead saw my skills to be better aligned in analytics (I did try and convince them that my maths aren’t that good!) so asked me for another interview but with the analytics team. Due to my experience at Microsoft doing Online Advertising I knew that an analytics based role was not quite right for me, after much thought I graciously declined the interview.

Edelman are a forward thinking agency who tried to find a part of their business to plug me into but at this time it did not work. Everyone I met at the agency in London were delightful, very bright but what they could offer me was not quite right in the end.

An undisclosed smaller agency
Out of all the agencies I applied for my most confusing experience was with a smaller agency based in London. Their assessment day involved a group task and presentation, successful candidates were then invited back for a final interview. In particular I found the group assessment nerve racking as one of the candidates (who studies law) recognised me from my blog. Whilst this gave me a push to perform to prove my ‘real world value’ to this follower, it did cause me to worry. Living up to people’s expectations can, at times, be worrisome.

Nevertheless I managed to obtain a final interview with this agency which went incredibly well. By chance I had already seen clients of theirs in the media and could rehearse the media impact of them in 2011 without strain. It is remarkable what stress, focus and the desire to please will do to the mind.

I left the interview almost certain that I would get a job offer from them within the next week. Whilst this delighted me I knew that I was still waiting back from Edelman and had yet started Red’s graduate scheme processes. I’ve never been one to settle for the easy option if a better choice existed and at this stage I was not certain this small agency was right for me – despite the friendliness of its staff.

After a couple of weeks though the agency didn’t get in contact – rather confusing as after a final interview the decision is usually quite quick. I then found out from the manager that the agency had already done some hiring and had yet to make a decision about me, to help make their decision I agreed to do two days work experience for them. Those two days seemed to go well although obviously, being a work experience student, most of the time you tend to feel like a spare part.

After the two days were up a few days passed and the agency revealed uncertainty about my position due to client movements, eventually they were going to award me a role which would start in August.

To be honest my interest in them was dying at this point, not due to their business approach but because obtaining a graduate role with them was really drawn out. Even though I had spent in the region of £80 going to their various days (National Express Coaches and Oyster purchases) they seemed to find it difficult to make their decisions. Whilst everyone in the company was a pleasure to work with and meet I couldn’t commit any more time to processes and start dates were far too late.

Red
Red’s campaigns frequently receive attention in the PR industry; creativity is their weapon and their approach should be inspiring for smaller upcoming agencies. All of their employees were pleasant to speak with, their flat structure even meant speaking with managers to be easy and they were honest throughout the whole procedure. I left the Red assessment day and final interview with nerves and high hopes I wished to suppress. Somehow I knew that they were the agency for me and if they decided against my application it would have dealt a heavy blow.

Thankfully I got the job and cannot wait to start.

I did get rejections
I’m aware that I have only listed three agencies who I managed to get into the final stages for. In reality I also got rejected from a handful of agencies in either the first stages or after telephone interview. The fact I eventually obtained a graduate role in the end shows that every agency is looking for somebody different for their organisation. Whilst you may not make it through one scheme, another organisation may find you suitable for an assessment day and may even offer you a role.

Throughout my graduate job search I have placed a large focus on my emotional reactions towards agencies. This is the first step into my career and so I must take every job offer seriously but at the same time I must make sure that I will grow.

In summary my graduate job search revealed these lessons to me:

1# Check that you keep your top button on your shirt done up. When I attended the Edelman assessment day it was warm so I had my top button undone. Unfortunately I forgot to do it up before the interview. Despite this I was rated in the top five who were interviewed that day but pictures taken on the day revealed the unsightly undone button. Thankfully they didn’t mind too much (some graduates on the day were not even wearing proper suits!) but it is worth remembering the top button.

2# Finding a graduate job is important but make sure the agency is right for you. Some agencies may do fantastic traditional PR but their digital approaches may be lacking. Everyone in the PR industry has to take digital seriously. Think of your CV – do you really want to work for an agency whose approaches are still set in the noughties? No.

3# Don’t take rejections personally. I was rejected in the early stages of Blue Rubicon and Hotwire – yet Edelman, the world’s largest PR agency, accepted me for interview. Agencies look for different sorts of candidates and sometimes we are not the perfect match. Keep applying.

4# When applying for graduate schemes it is important to only apply for those organisations you are actually interested working for. On that note don’t just apply for one or two schemes. Apply for every scheme which takes your fancy. Some applications are deliberately made long to cut down the amount of applicants. Each PR graduate scheme receives between 300 – 700 applications, play the numbers game and don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

5# Understand your role, contract length and salary before applying. Someone I know from my class was offered a job at a salary of £16,000 a year. Man cannot live away from home with bills, food and travel on this sort of pay. The minimum salary for a PR graduate these days is £18,000.

6# The chances are that members of your class will probably be applying for the same jobs as you. Your class mates are the competition but don’t let this deter you.

7# During group interviews (which usually involve a task) always remain the courteous person you are. On one assessment day a graduate on my team was incredibly rude, overly competitive and a pain to worth with. He didn’t get the role because no agency wishes to have someone like that in one of their teams.

8# If you have a chance after an assessment day spend time talking with other graduates. Everyone is usually very friendly and talking allows you to gauge your competition. Competition for new talent in the PR industry at the moment is very high!

9# Don’t forget the skills you have learnt at University. Those who do not come from a PR degree tend to forget the basics such as objectives, strategy, tactics and evaluation in campaign planning. Use structures like this to really make your ideas stand out. Make sure you use a mix between traditional and digital PR.

10# The final and most important point of all – RELAX. You have nothing to be nervous about. Nerves can hinder your performance so remain relaxed at all times, enjoy assessment days for the attention you get and before not too long you will land yourself a job.

 

I hope that this blog post has proved to be useful and that I haven’t upset any PR agencies in its publication! Let me know if you have any questions. I would also love to know your best and worst experiences of job hunting.