Converging Careers Conference 2015 at Southampton Solent University

Converging Careers Conference 2015 at Southampton Solent University

 

Almost exactly a year ago, in 2014, I was a student and I graduated from the PR Masters degree at Southampton Solent University.

One year later and the situation had reversed, rather than sitting in the lecture theatre ready to take notes, I was the one giving the talk. Talk about a one eighty!

I was invited back to speak about the way PR, advertising and marketing are starting to merge together to form a hybrid and to explain the necessity of having a wide skills set that cover these fields.

This blog is what I took from the conference, my perspective and what I found valuable. Livi Wilkes, from Solent PR, has already shared all the golden nuggets of information about employability in the following two blogs, which are definitely worth a read:

SSU Converging Careers Conference Part 1

SSU Converging Careers Conference Part 2

My journey has been a long one, with many experiences which has contributed to where I am today. it sounds cliched but it’s true. That experience wasn’t invalid, I just wasn’t aware of that until recently. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?!

I think, for me, it was also important to show other people who are about to enter a creative industry that the path isn’t always smooth and straight. It’s not easy to open up about struggling. I had tried so hard to get in to PR through various means and although at times I felt I was never going to get there or that I was on the wrong path, I never gave up. So coming back to my university and being able to relay my journey and where I am now was really exciting.

When I was there I met one of the 2015 graduates from the PR Masters and she shared her feelings with me via Twitter, and it was a reminder of how powerful face to face interaction and social media can be. Remember that you aren’t alone, it’s ok to be ‘lost’ sometimes and to take the road less travelled. Not everyone is living that glossy life they so readily portray to the world on social media. Not everything comes easily. Most of the best things don’t come easily. Trust your intuition.

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Catherine Sweet, my wonderful lecturer and mentor, opened the conference by explaining the changes in the industry and why they were important. Her career in PR/Marketing/Advertising/Marketing/Politics is incredible and she has topped it off with lecturing at Southampton Solent University passing on her knowledge.

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Steve Woodgate, Solent University MA Graduate and Marketing Manager at Microsoft UK, who was the first guest speaker advised the attendees at the conference to ‘be a squirrel, gather nuts of knowledge’. This struck me like a lightening bolt. I had been a squirrel, foraging, learning and gathering nuts of knowledge along my journey.

A varied set of skills will make you more robust and ready for any future roles.

He also identified four sub-sets of characters within the creative industry:

  • The Scientist
  • The Storyteller
  • The Socialiser
  • The Strategist

Steven said you would predominantly be one of these characters and that it would be helpful to identify which one you were so you are able to identify your strengths. I completely agree with him, identifying your strengths is very helpful but I think that some people may cross these sub-sets.

The last major thing I took from Steven’s talk was that he said:

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“Digital is more significant than the industrial revolution. We just don’t know it yet.”

I was up next and I had to rapidly overcome my public speaking fears (and the monster cold I had!).

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I used my journey, examples of other people journeys and current client work to show just how important a varied skill set is and what I had learnt along the way. The time flew by and soon I was back in my seat not knowing what just happened, hoping it went ok.

Thankfully I had some positive feedback after the talk and some really lovely tweets!

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Following my talk was Dr Emma Wray, the new head of PR and Communications for Southampton Solent University. She was engaging and told us about her incredible experience (just ask her about working at the BBC during the Olympics!) and the changes she is seeing to the PR and communications industry and how we can adapt to survive them. Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 22.36.50Emma also had some top tips for those about to enter the creative industries…

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Caroline Barfoot, from Solent Creatives, concluded the talks with a focus on getting work experience and freelancing. She drew attention to this years John Lewis Christmas campaign and it’s multi-faceted nature.  She also made the point that ‘at the heart of everything is the consumers. Products only work if the consumer wants to use it.’ This phrase is great to take with you throughout your career, remind yourself of it to keep you focused and critical when working on projects.

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After the talks the conference was divided in to two to debate current PR topics. I helped panel the debate which questioned the valued of earned and shared media. It was really interesting to see what a cross section of the current university students studying creative topics and a number of business people thought. It was concluded that there is value in a combination of the both earned and shared media. A lot of emphasis and importance was placed on being critical of the source.

It was a great day and I was honoured to be invited to take part, honoured to be able to give something back and honoured to represent the company I now work for. I am lucky to work for a company who can see the value in giving back and leading the field. I am extremely thankful to Catherine Sweet for believing in me and guiding me through my Masters and to Lee Peck Media for giving me the opportunity to work in PR and to experience a converging career!

#Ebookinaday goes live!

#Ebookinaday goes live!

 

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Holy Smokes! #ebookinaday is here, completed and ready to rock your socks off!

I still can’t believe that all the content was created by Southampton Solent University Public Relations Students in ONE manic, epic day.

To download your copy for free…oh yes, FREE, your pennies are not welcome here, head to…

http://solentpr.wordpress.com/ebookinaday/

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The book covers the cutting edge tools for communication in the peer to peer PR world, perfect for practitioners, academics, marketers, business owners or those of you just wanting to find out how to be a better communicator.

It has 9 chapters for you to dive into and explore, and what’s great about it is that it’s still growing and evolving. Whether it is taking a selfie to post, leaving a comment or offering your expertise there is still a chance to be involved. Want to know how? Well then take a peek at the #ebookinaday project blog post and click on one of the chapters to find out more.

High-five’s and thanks go out to:
  • All my wonderful peers who gave a lot of blood, sweat, tears and ideas
  • Tom Fowler, the Solent Creative developer and technical genius
  • Stephen Waddington for giving us valuable advice and well-timed pep talks
  • But the ultimate, golden high-five, goes to Catherine Sweet for accepting Stephen Waddington’s challenge, all her hard work and for getting me involved in such an awesome project! Who else can say they are an author when they haven’t even finished their Masters yet? Not many!
Read it, download it, print it, share it or get involved…it’s yours, for free, forever! 
What a wonderful thought 🙂

EBook in a Day – A project brought to you by Southampton Solent University’s PR Students

EBook in a Day – A project brought to you by Southampton Solent University’s PR Students

I’ve owned this blog for 3 years and never posted anything. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip. The other day I was reminded of this fact by a Word Press email wishing me a happy anniversary. Oh dear. How could I not have written anything in 3 whole years? No posts. No writing confidence. No engagement. And I want to be a PR practitioner? Gee Whizz.

What changed?

On the 26th March 2014, I helped to create an ebook in a day. There are 8 chapters and all the PR Masters students had to pitch to win their chapter from the client and then pitch to gain undergraduates on to their team. This was tough. I had never pitched before. I created something silly; thinking that even if it didn’t work at least the person reading and watching the pitches would have a giggle. But, much to my disbelief, it did work and it engaged. I got the chapter I wanted to work on: Co-creation and attracted 7 students in to the team. Phew!

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Team Co-creation

45 people squished in to Solent Creatives to start what we thought was an ebook but turned out to be a PR movement. It taught me so much and sharing is caring after all, so here are the things I learnt from the ebook in a day…

  1. Be Organised

Sounds simple, but without having organised my chapter it would have been a disaster. There was so much to think about. It was about half way through the day that I was thankful my lecturer had insisted on a Gantt chart as it had got the old grey matter in to gear in advance of the event. I was prepared and it took the stress out of an overwhelming workload.

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The invite for the chapter demonstration
  1. Start Early

Being mean is not my style, but I insisted my team came a whole hour early as our demonstration I had arranged depended on invitations and engagement. We needed a good solid start. Thankfully the team showed up and it made a world of difference, especially when other barriers came in to play.

  1. Don’t Trust Technology

This is one of those pesky barriers I’ve been talking about. 45 students in a small space tested the University WIFI to destruction. It failed four times over the course of the day and this seriously would have hampered our progress had my fantastic team not turned up early.

  1. Imagination and Innovation is Powerful

The other students, staff, lecturers and industry practitioners were incredibly inspiring and creative. The ideas and advice they offered on the day blew me away. Working in an environment like that made me better. In sport they always say that if you train with people who are better then you raise your game to their level and in this case it was most definitely true.

  1. Social Media, is Social, so Get Involved!

I had never seen a multi-platform event from the ‘other side’ before and it was amazing to see every team obtaining high levels of engagement from only one days worth of effort. Sometimes I get fed up with the endless streams of content being chucked my way from social media, but when it’s focused with a proper stakeholder salience strategy applied it can be highly effective and engaging. It can start a conversation, a project or even a movement!

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  1. Be adaptable: from MA to Manager!

Personal challenges can come in any form. I have managed teams before, but it had been a while. So off came my student hat and on went my manager hat. How do you engage a student team who are not being assessed on a project? Food. It’s always a winner. The key here, know your audience! I even had some really lovely thank you’s…

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Twitter Thank You’s!

However despite all of these lessons it was the final parting comments of Stephen Waddington, president of the CIPR, that inspired me to finally break my silence and post this, my very first blog post.

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Stephen Waddington addressing #ebookinaday

He offered 3 tips for ‘making it’ in PR:

  1. Get on Twitter and build relationships
  2. Network and build your profile on LinkedIn
  3. Blog, this is important, it showcases your skills

Stephen made it sound so simple and through the experience of the PR masters I think I finally have the confidence to write. So here I am.

 

Here’s my pick of other blogs about #ebookinaday:

  • Stephen Waddington – Early lessons from the #ebookinaday project at Southampton Solent University
  • Lisa Duygu – Ebook in a day, a project, an event, a challenge, a success!
  • Livi Wilkes – Ebook in a day, the day so far
  • Bethany Ansell – The best of the week 28 March
  • Nikita Gagnon – Putting the public back into public relations