Getting into PR: What to expect on a work placement

Getting into PR: What to expect on a work placement

This week I had the amazing opportunity to go back to Southampton Solent University to lecture about what PR students should expect on their placements and how they can maximise the opportunity while they are there. I wrote about the lecture on behalf of Lee Peck Media:

Placements, internships and work experience are all part and parcel when it comes to getting onto the PR career ladder. Having experience continues to be an important pre-requisite to entering the PR industry. It’s the chance to impress, network and find out what the industry is actually like at the same time as adding vital skills to a CV.

In 2015 alone the amount of placements rose by 10.2 per cent, according to a survey of leading employers by High Fliers Research. Although employers are offering more opportunities the number of applicants has also increased with some roles attracting thousands of candidates. In a competitive job environment experience can provide the edge required to beat off those other candidates for that sought-after first job.

This week Lee Peck Media’s Rebecca Henderson was invited by Southampton Solent University to give a talk to second year PR students about being a PR account executive and what to expect when on a placement.

“Embarking on a work placement or PR role for the first time can be a pretty daunting prospect whether you are fresh from graduating or not. Having some relevant tools and advice before starting will help you stand out from the crowd and impress your potential future employers, which could help you land your first proper PR job,” said Rebecca.

Rebecca undertook placements at a number of different companies at the start of her career, including time at the Clinique press office and the communications team at Hampshire Fire and Rescue. Here she shares her top five things to expect on placement:

  1. Admin – This may not sound like an integral part but this is the bread and butter of PR and what justifies our work. Media cuttings, reports and keeping plans up to date are an important everyday essential that, if not done properly, will catch you out later down the line!
  2. Press releases – Practice, practice, practice! Don’t feel down if you get critiqued; use it as a valuable learning experience to improve. Remember your managers will have been writing for years, so don’t be disheartened.
    Press releases
  3. Events – Be prepared. Carrying around essential tools, i.e. stationary, spare press releases and contact details, could avert disaster and prevent you from missing that important PR opportunity.
  4. Selling in to journalists – Get that telephone manner down! Use your charm, wit and guile to hook a journalist on to your story.
  5. Be ready to learn – Ask questions and get involved. There are some topics like budgets and crisis management where the best form of learning is from others on the job. Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you can learn why that’s the approach to take in that instance.

Rebecca added: “All these tips will help but your attitude matters. It may sound obvious but be proactive and enthusiastic. You’d be surprised by the amount of people who don’t and how much it matters!”


Laura Bradley, the new PR_SSU Blog Editor and second year Public Relations & Communication student has also written about the lecture for the Official Southampton Solent Univeristy blog, click here to read it!

 

Kim Kardashian ‘breaks the internet again’ with more vanity PR…

Kim Kardashian ‘breaks the internet again’ with more vanity PR…

Kim Kardashian‘s latest mission to gain some media attention was a ‘naked selfie’ posted on Instagram on 7 March and within a day it had over 1 million likes. One hell of a powerful (and nothing left to the imagination) selfie.

Sorry to further the Kardashian noise even more, but if you did manage to miss it or couldn’t be bothered to seek it out, it’s below.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 19.01.43

Kim Kardashian has built a career out of vanity public relations. She has no traditional tangible skill, talent or trade, she is literally promoting interest in her. Her life, her looks, her family and her loves.

I wrote in a previous blog ‘People taking selfies can become powerful stakeholders if they gain adequate enough attention.’ However, I’d like to add to this theory and say that to sustain power, the person must continue to draw attention to themselves to keep themselves in the public eye or find other mechanisms to support attention being put in their direction.

Kim Kardashian has done exactly that, her fame now sustains itself through several other mediums, her social media accounts, broadcast, print and her family to name but a few.

She brought herself in to the public eye so much that she landed herself a reality TV show, she married one of world’s most famous rappers and perpetuates herself further with vanity PR, such as the naked selfie above. As Kim shows on a daily basis the humble selfie can be a very powerful tool in PR!

So this made me decide to re-post my blog about the selfie revolution and vanity public relations called ‘But first, let me take a selfie’ featured below.

But first, let me take a… The Chainsmokers and the infamous #selfie song!
But first, let me take a… The Chainsmokers infamous song!

Love them or hate them, you have to question what kind of culture they are fostering online? And is it restricted to gender? Tragically a man recently became a selfie recluse and tried to kill himself when he couldn’t obtain what he deemed to be the perfect picture. It’s an extreme example, but an example none the less. This sounds like it has taken the form of addiction but in the case of Eat Pray Love star, James Franco, he know’s exactly what he’s doing. An article in Marie Claire has researched that he is full aware that in the age of hyper-connectivity and online noise, attention is power. Cornelissen, author of Corporate Communciations: a guide to theory and practice, identifies a power, urgency and legitimacy model when it comes to stakeholder salience. People taking selfies can become powerful stakeholders if they gain adequate enough attention. Last night James Franco posted an almost nude and very odd selfie and removed it an hour later (Marie Claire have captured it though, take a look). What did it create? Attention, everyone’s currently talking about…James Franco. Everyone will be paying attention to his twitter account for a little while, so whatever he says is going to have an enhanced focus and a larger reach and therefore when you are trying to be heard amongst the crowd this can be a powerful tool. Large companies are starting to recognise that they could potentially be a profitable trend too. Samsung have identified that selfies are powerful and have decided to capitalise upon it releasing a selfie-specific camera. To be fair, the camera is actually very cool, with some super features, but it does lead to asking the question what or where next for the selfie?

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 19.32.00
Space selfies already exist – what next?!

There is also the element of people who are fishing for compliments. Cancer Research UK not only identified this trend but also harnessed it as a PR campaign, which ultimately used vanity PR and converted it into direct donations, the charities main aim. It played upon women empowerment, image and personal identity. By women posting not only were they saying they were confident enough to show the world their face make up free, warts and all but they could also align themselves with being a better person, it just screamed ‘Look everyone, not only am I confident, but I’m generous!’ Through the nominations aspect, other women questioned their peers, willing them to participate, but are they really asking ‘Are you a confident and generous person too?’ No one wants to be seen as insecure or a scrooge! Ultimately it generated a lot of money for charity, which can only be a good thing, I’m just not sure I fully agree with the method, but no one can deny it was a clever PR campaign.

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 19.34.55
‘THAT’ Oscars selfie!
Do you pout?
Do you pout?
Or do you look longingly?
Or do you look longingly?

Having not grown up in the age of the selfie I can’t help but think of the impression it may have had on me. Teen Vogue take a psychological stance and address the issue of low self esteem recommending a shift in perspective if all you are looking for are comments. The advice they give is healthy, they don’t say selfies are bad but to make sure they are fun and avoid excessive use. I think it’s important that influencers like Teen Vogue do put out positive messages like this so there is some guidance for people growing up in an ever-image obsessed world. The ‘What I see’ project discusses both sides of the selfie but within a feminist context with a dose of philosophical musings and makes for a very interesting contribution to the debate.

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 19.31.17
Would Marilyn Monroe have taken a selfie?
Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 19.31.46
Will selfies become modern art?

Grace Dent who writes for The Independent also makes the argument that selfies are about self-branding, celebrity-alignment, social climbing and proof of happiness. The more I read the more negative it gets. Are there positive aspects to the selfie? Perhaps I don’t understand the selfie. Do we need to prove to other people that we are happy? What constitutes happiness? Do people want to see others pouting in front of the camera?

What do you think?

Share your comments below, or if you find any good articles or points of view please post them too!

Blog Lovin’ – a blogging curation and networking service

Blog Lovin’ – a blogging curation and networking service

The battle of keeping up with all the blogs you want to read may have just taken a step closer to being a bit more manageable.

Blog Lovin’ is a new service that curates blogs on topics of your choosing, the bloggers you follow and connects you to potential advertisers and paid blog opportunities. If you are short on time, and let’s face it who isn’t, this a one stop shop for keeping up to date with all your favourite blogs.

The step-by-step process when you sign up guides you through adding your blog to the site. Don’t worry if you can’t find your blog at first. I emailed them and a few days later it was added for me and they sent me a lovely email to let me know!

To connect your blog you need to ‘claim your blog’ which then gives you a code. It then asks you to post a new blog post with that code which allows Blog Lovin’ to recognise your site and display your blog posts.

Once you’ve added your details, added a picture and changed the settings to your liking you are all ready to go. This was a fairly quick set up process for me, it took me about 15 minutes once my site was recognised.

When it connects it lists all your blog posts in a wall that can be clicked on by your followers, under a tab called ‘Everything’. It also shows all your followers and other blogs similar to yours under two separate tabs.Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 20.50.19

Along the top row are five headings, a bell symbol that lets you know when you have new notifications and a silhouette of a person or your image once you upload one, that takes you to your account menu.Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 21.12.44Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 21.12.38My FeedScreen Shot 2016-02-22 at 21.13.01The blog posts are laid out simply and are really user friendly…

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 21.13.44It gives you the option to read it by clicking on the title, save it, share it through social media or email and mark it as read so you can keep an eye on what you have read already.Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 21.13.37When saving it gives you the option to create a category so you can organise your saved blogs for when you come back to them later. This I find really useful because I don’t always have the time to read things but love to come back to post. Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 21.13.28Explore

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 20.51.51This gives you multiple ways to find new blogs. It gives some popular categories across the top, further categories under more, or you can use the top right hand search function to conduct some manual searches of your own…

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 21.27.41Find Blogs

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 20.52.06This works in a similar way to ‘Explore’ but rather than listing it by topic this is a search function for the person behind the blog.

Activate

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 20.52.28Activate allows you to instigate the networking side of the Blog Lovin’. By filling out your blog details it will match you to incoming PR and advertising opportunities, some of which are paid in money or gifted items.

Shop
Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 20.52.56This is another great feature of the site, it curates items from blogs and gives you the links or place where you can buy the products. Which instantly answers the ‘Oh my god, I love that, where can I get it?’ question that I usual have when reading blogs that feature amazing products.

It looks like a useful resource to discover new blogs, network, find new blogging opportunities and get more followers. I’m going to trial it for a few months and see if it helps improve followers to my blog. If you like it and create a profile don’t forget to add me too!

Click here to follow my blog on Blog Lovin’!

Know of any other good blogging sites? If so, please feel free to share in the comments!

Or if you want me to follow you on Blog Lovin’ then again please put your blog link and a message in the comment section.

I’ve joined Blog Lovin’

I’ve joined Blog Lovin’

Curation is a fantastic and helpful tool especially in the world of blogging. I am always looking for new ways to follow the blogs I like and find new ones. Today I’m trying a new service called Blog Lovin’.

I’ve got to post the link in a new post, here goes nothing…

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/14724953/?claim=fxpnsu84m39″>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I will update you with my progress and what I think of the service shortly!

Online activism – social media monster or force for chance?

Online activism – social media monster or force for chance?

In The Times yesterday I couldn’t help but be grabbed by the article by @ROSAPRINCEUK with the headline Social media monster could devour Corbyn.

IMG_8760

It backed up the point I often make that online public relations for a divisive entity or to support a cause or for ‘online activism’ can be a double edged sword. It either is destructive force or a driving motivation for change.

Social media can be used to make a point. Rosa uses the example of Corbyn encouraging people to take to Twitter to share their heart warming stories about junior doctors. It’s a clever move given the current climate but, let’s leave the politics out of this and focus on the powerful use of PR for change.

The #theyarethedoctorswho hashtag was used over 20,000 times and almost overtook the insane ramblings of hip-hop rapper Kanye West. This surge of support is powerful, people have actively gone online to take part, engage and share. It’s obviously a topic close to so many people’s hearts and it’s well timed on Corbyn’s part as he’s called for this ‘online activism’ at a time when emotions are still running high.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 20.00.46 Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 20.01.01 Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 20.01.22

As you can see people were tweeting some very powerful and emotive messages.

For Corbyn this is another strategic step in getting people on side and motivated enough to actually vote. It worked in the run up to his vote for the Labour Party leadership and now this is being used in a wider application to make him relatable, show him as sympathetic and fighting for the average hard working Brit on the street. Who can’t relate to that?

With this sort of endeavour though you run the gauntlet between social media being a force for bad or good. Again Rosa brings an excellent topical example to the fold, Stephen Fry. Even Fry, a national treasure, dramatically quit the Twittersphere after he made an inappropriate comment at the BAFTAS and received unprecedented backlash. It only takes one comment, or action, which doesn’t have to be online to make or break someone’s reputation. Ah, there we go PR fans, we’ve reached the heart of the matter, it’s all down to reputation again!

Now it’s already blown past as yesterdays news and I am sure it won’t be long until Stephen Fry will be back to brandish 140 characters with the best of them. But, the point to make here is that, even for the popular people of the universe, the online world can be a dangerous place. Reputation is fragile and not easily repaired as we already know. It is in these situations that PR is absolutely crucial.

At present Corbyn is harnessing social media but he’s never that far from the edge. Those that have opposed Corbyn online in the lead up to his Labour Party election have found themselves trolled and he had to make a public call for more ‘civility online’.  As you can see, it may not even be your own actions that bring you close to the edge online but those who support you too.

At the end of the day all Corbyn cares about is whether this online support gets people off their bums and to the polling station come the time that matters. If this kind of PR by social media works and becomes a motivation factor for voters then it could be a very powerful force for political change. Can social media, if harnessed in the right way, be the persuasion tool that sparks people to vote? It certainly helped Obama.

Whether Corbyn being voted in is a good force for change or a bad force for change, well that’s a different topic and debate altogether. I am not attacking either political party, I am merely using it to make a point about PR. This blog is about public relations not politics.

I also have to point out here that what Corbyn is doing here is a form of PR piggybacking, a topic I wrote about in my last blog. Corbyn is capitalising on the junior doctors strikes by engaging the public by encouraging to share their emotive experiences about junior doctors. Like many strategic political PR campaigns, he is rubbing salt in the wound of the current Government’s inability to resolve the junior doctors situation and trying to turn it in his favour to get more votes for his party. This sort of political activity is nothing new, it’s just being done through a different medium.

Online activism is the a great way to engage debate, talk and discussion on difficult topics which I hope is then harnessed to encourage positive change. However, activism in its very nature can also bring negativity, so I believe that honesty, transparency and being considerate are all key in maintaining reputation online and in most real-world situations. Social media need not be a monstrous place as long as we all take a little responsibility and think about our actions.

The Independent – The beginning of the end…

The Independent – The beginning of the end…

…or as The Independent calls it ‘the end of an era’.

The 13th of February hailed ‘the new wave’ of digital only journalism. It was announced in an article online that The Independent will no longer have a print edition from the 20th March.

1089

Read the article.

The digital revolution has changed the face of public relations and it continues to evolve with new online inventions and trends. The creative industry has seen traditional journalism downscale and roles within newspapers change, diminish and come under enormous pressure.

With The Independents move to digital, others will follow.  Could this be the end of newspapers as we know it?

I want to think that it isn’t the end for newspapers. Look at the resurgence in traditional printed books after the wave of e-readers hit the market. The threat was real. Multiple books held in a conveniently compact tablet readily available wherever you go. It makes sense on so many levels.

For a long time it looked like the Kindle had killed off the print press in one swift digital punch.

However, a few years down the line, the market is saturated and there are people like me who still prefer to put the screen down and get involved in a real book. It’s a pleasant feeling to go fully offline and not succumb to the continuous draw of online content. I like books, I like the way they feel, the way they smell and the fact they don’t run out of battery! And, don’t even start me on the damage caused by screens to your eyes. I now wear glasses part-time. Anyway, as always, I digress. Book popularity has started to increase and it looks for now that the book stores have weathered the digital storm.

I hope that newspapers may have this same experience of a resurgence, but I think this may have to be tied in with some kind of content revolution.

Perhaps the best I can hope for is that by only being online the concept of the traditional journalist will endure? Hopefully online newspapers will have the resources to keep more journalists employed and the skills alive.

The cynic in me thinks that newspapers going online only will dilute the news market even further, the few remaining journalists will get lazy and the press release will be used as ‘cover-ready-copy’ without being stat checked or formed in to a real story. This sort of practice can already been seen, so it wouldn’t really be that much of a jump.

Unfortunately I think this is the next big change for newspapers and in a few years the next generation won’t have a clue what a newspaper is. They will laugh that we read things on paper and fetched the news daily from a shop. They will think us ridiculous as all they will know is that news is available at the touch of a button and you need not move a muscle to get it!

What makes me really sad though is the thought that in the future no one will derive joy on a Sunday from settling down with fresh coffee, breakfast and The Sunday Times and taking a long leisurely read of what’s going on in the world. Online reading just isn’t the same. I know all the same information is available online and I’m not against that existing too. But, for now, I’d like to keep things just the same with the option of both print and online.

I really do think that going solely online is the beginning of the end for newspapers. Now that The Independent has set the online precedent the others will follow.

I’d love to know what you think, please share your thoughts in the comments section!

The art of PR piggybacking

The art of PR piggybacking

Piggybacking in public relations is where a brand capitalises on an event or situation or another brand to generate awareness.

A very famous example was when the brands released adverts and social media posts during the black out of the Super Bowl. Oreo was one of the best piggybacks with ‘You can still dunk in the dark’ which went out via social media.

Now public relations for a hotel’s isn’t always the most exciting out there, but in January 2016 Adare Manor Hotel got the best out of this everyday situation.

It’s often a way to turn a situation to your advantage to get some added value and public relations that you wouldn’t usually get. Let me show you a cracking example…

About a month a go a little girl left her stuffed bunny at a hotel in Adare, Ireland. The Hotel documented the bunny’s stay until she was reunited with her owner. I think the best way to show how this through the Facebook posts from the staff at the hotel. As you will see the cute bunny’s exploits at the hotel soon went viral!

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.33.38 Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.33.53 Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.34.03 Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.34.11 Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.34.19 Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.34.29 Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.34.51 Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.35.00 Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.35.08 Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.35.22 Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.35.30 Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.35.41 Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.35.58

All’s well that end well, plus it’s some pretty fun PR!

Sweetie darling, it’s absolutely fabulous!

Sweetie darling, it’s absolutely fabulous!

Wheels on fire, rolling down the road!

Absolutely Fabulous is back and bigger than ever as it hits a cinema near you this summer.

The reason I’m posting about Ab Fab is that I guess it was my first introduction to the concept of public relations. They were a completely over the top, champagne swilling, extravagant, ridiculous, faux drug-fuelled duo producing comedy gold. The Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley double act made me laugh until my sides were sore and I was always doing comedy sketches with my friends trying to impersonate them both. I’m not sure my first impression of PR was very good at all in fact, oh how the tide has turned!

This program certainly wasn’t my inspiration behind going in to PR, that came much later, but it was an early introduction of some sorts. It made me wonder how other people discovered PR, what their first views of it were and what inspired them to then go in to PR. If you feel like sharing (because sharing is caring!) pop me a comment about your very first introduction to public relations.

Bad Day? Here’s a funny You Tube comment to cheer your soul…

By putting something out on social media you are opening yourself up to a whole host of different problems that could arise. Some are bad, some are good, others are just absolutely hilarious.

This quick post is just one highlighting how funny the stakeholders you are interacting with can be.

For me, it was summed up in this post that was sent to me by a very good friend who loves Ed Sheeran and Harry Potter…

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 22.07.02