The PR industry generates £8.5 billion a year, with the average PR person working 49 hours per week and earning and annual salary of £48K (PRCA, 2012). To help aspiring PR professionals gain entry into this thriving environment, the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) hosted a careers event at The Natural History Museum; an interesting paradox for an industry which is far from prehistoric.
The event started off with an insightful opening from PRCA Chief Executive, Francis Ingham and Chairman, Sally Costerton, who gave an update on current happenings within the industry such as the launch of the new PR apprenticeship scheme. This was then followed by a panel of experienced communication leaders from various organisations, including Action for Children, o2, MHP Communications and John Doe.
Head of Campaigning for o2, Emma Hart gave the audience a personal account of how she climbed the PR career ladder. Emma started out working as an account executive at a tech agency, switching to in-house press officer position at o2 and later gaining a senior management all by the ripe old age of 28.
According to Emma, this success is down to hard work , passion and focus. A key takeaway from her presentation was ‘be clear about your expectations of career progression when you start a job’. This was useful advice for us final year students who are about to embark on our own professional journey.
John Doe founder, Rana Reeves who rocked up with a couple of hours sleep from the NME awards in true PR style, discussed the importance of social media.
‘Social media should not be a buzz word, for it is implicit to the fabric of all communication activity,’ he said.
This was later supported by digital PR expert and account director at EML Wildfire, Danny Whatmough who dropped the following three bombshells:
1. There is no such thing as digital PR – it should be used to underpin every communication process and should no longer be classed as a separate entity. We live in a digital world.
2. Great companies don’t need to do PR – a good company will love its customers and they will love them back. Peer recommendation is the most effective sort of PR and companies need to directly communicate with consumers in order to influence this [we felt this point resonated well with Grunig’s two-way communication theory!]
3. Forget everything you have learnt in PR – the industry is constantly changing and it important for us to recognise and adapt with technological evolution.
With particular reference to bombshell #3, Danny recommends the following approach to PR practice to ensure we won’t get left behind:
- Be creative
- Network – it will help you one day.
- Learn the business
- Think outside the box – why not send a journalist a video brief instead of a standard press release?
- Try new things – make sure you are up to speed with the latest digital communication tools such as online pin board, Pinterest for example.
The final point raised was possibly the most important when choosing a career path. Senior account manager at Davies Tanner, Philippa Martin advised us to think about what we love, what we are passionate about and to choose a job or a company that matches this. This is indispensible advice for anyone looking to start a career.
All in all it was a useful day, particularly for those in first and second year who are looking for practical advice about the PR industry. However, the Careers Day also helped answer a lot of questions for final year students who have completed an internship and are preparing to step out into the work place.
For more information about upcoming PRCA events please visit, http://www.prca.org.uk/events or for regular updates, follow the association on Twitter @PRCA_UK.
-Esme Razzak and Emma Catchpole