What a PR degree won’t teach you…

Flickr – tanakawho

My Tuesday started in the bleakest of ways yesterday, after a late night emergency visit to the vets for my beloved little kitty and a hefty price tag to go along with, I have been feeling more than a little sorry for myself.

And then look what comes along to brighten my day:

Official proof I’m a charmer!

My lovely mum always told me that manners cost nothing, and she also told me a smile can travel lightyears.

I’ve never personally met Richard, and it never crossed my mind that I HAD to thank him for his kind words – that’s just something that should come naturally, no?

Flickr – viZZZual.com

Being friendly, polite, positive and personable is something so incredibly important in any career. Nowadays (thankfully) it’s rare to find a boss who continually cusses, is ungrateful for your contributions and couldn’t care less about you as a person – no one gets terribly far with a bad attitude or bad people skills.

Unfortunately, being a nice person isn’t something that university will ever teach you, it’s something that comes with life experience. While I’m only 20 years young I do feel as though I’ve seen a lot of working life, especially so in the last four months here at Creo.

Working in the real world has made me realise that there’s so much that a university degree can’t give you…

Manners

Flickr – Sharyn Morrow

Being polite, remembering to say please and thank you, removing cuss-words from your vocabulary and respecting others (either above or below you in seniority) is either something you’re born with or something you can master. Looking down your nose at anyone isn’t going to get you anywhere. If you’re not getting jobs you apply for, maybe check your attitude, are you overly-confident? That can come across as arrogant and rude – both a big no-no!

Remembering where you’ve come from…

I personally find humility a really lovely trait in a person – although some people take it too far and only fish for compliments – always remember where you’ve come from, even when you’re at the top one day. The people who are your juniors are in the position you were in once, so remember to treat them with respect. Be a normal human being, don’t let power get to your head when you’re trusted with new tasks – you’re trusted, so don’t blow it with overconfidence.

Client care

Flickr – Jason Theodor

University will never teach you how to deal with someone aggressive, someone rude or someone who’s quite frankly a *cuss-word*. Unfortunately, the world is full of these people and you’ll inevitably meet them when you start dealing with clients and suppliers – just remember to remain calm!

I’ve personally dealt with situations that have become heated and legal action has arisen as a result, the best thing to do is be professional – what you do and say in situations like these will stick with you for the rest of your career.

Dealing with difficult people is a real part of the job, you need to be confident and diplomatic in confrontational situations. Just think before you speak, ask yourself:

Are you within your legal rights to say what you’re about to? 
Will saying it affect your reputation as a PR practitioner?
Will saying it lose you business, either now or in the future, with valued clients?

Another customer care issue you will come across: those who ask too much.

Flickr – Vic

Sometimes deadlines creep up on you from nowhere, but sometimes it’s from a panicked client who’d forgotten a deadline and requests your help with a few hours to spare. And, with a charming and ‘happy to help’ attitude, you, of course, accept. 

I’ve found that sometimes clients ask for more than is specified on their agreed timeline of work, but you should always be happy to go above and beyond with extra tasks. After all, busy means business! 

It can be difficult to hold your tongue when someone is being rude to you, and understanding how to be diplomatic only comes with time.

Flickr – quietlyurban.com

The most important this to take away from this is try to be charming! Positivity, humility, manners and consideration of others – it will all help you cement yourself in people’s minds that you’re a lovely person, and that’s something to be really proud of.

You can read Richard’s post about the importance of being charming here.

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PR Students – Stepping out into the ‘big, bad world’

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog you will have noticed my absence for a few weeks now – why? I’ve joined the work-clan.

Sunderland Software Centre – the office! Flickr – ndl642m

It’s been a busy four weeks with my internship at Creo Communications, but four great weeks. While I’m not too fond of this whole ‘commuting’ malarkey, I’ve not once dreaded coming in to work. I’ve never had that Sunday night sunken heart at the realisation of work 9am the following day – in actual fact, I quite looked forward to it.

I was delighted that in my last week of my internship I was asked to stay with the company for the rest of the summer full-time and negotiate a part-time arrangement for when I return to university at the end of September – as you can imagine, I struggled to keep a Cheshire grin from my face.

I never thought for a second before I started my internship that I was ready to be a fully fledged PR, but as it turns out I’ve been trusted and tasked with so much more than I anticipated. So, as I sit in the office now, blogging on my lunch break, I’m thinking about what the past four weeks have taught me. Maybe I am ready for the real world?

Walking the walk…

Flickr – the Italian voice

It’s always tempting to get a bit hyperbolic on your own CV, but you’ve got to live up to those expectations. I’ve known a few friends fall foul to over-promising and thus disappointing. The first thing is getting the job so make sure you can truthfully do the job you’re pitching yourself for.

Compromising on the commute…

Flickr – thrill kills sunday pills

I used the Metro rail service to get to and from the office over the past four weeks, and while it did provide me with 40 minutes where I could do little but hunker down and enjoy my current Game of Thrones book, I didn’t enjoy having to leave the house at 7am or the less than pleasant fragrances of some of my fellow metro-goers. Public transport is generally cheaper versus petrol and parking, but now I’ve passed my test and insured my Beetle I know you can’t really beat the convenience of your own transport.

Whichever method of travel you choose, plan it. Turning up overly early is annoying, but looks far better than turning up late.

Be your own harshest critic…

Flickr – Nic McPhee

Submitting your drafts to your boss for review is nerve-racking when you start out – you don’t want to look like the novice you actually are. Highlight, scribble, re-read, tear up, read again and scribble some more – always, always, always proof-read your work, it avoids silly mistakes. It’s best to take a step away once you first draft – go make a cuppa or take a trip to the loo – come back with fresher eyes and consider it someone else’s work, you’ll pick up mistakes you’ve missed 20 times over.

Put your personality into it…

I can’t imagine anything worse than a silent office – I’m always either jibbering on about something in the news or quietly singing along to the radio while drafting releases or other copy (it’s a multi-tasking talent I’m so glad I have). Forge relationships with your colleagues, get over the awkward introduction stage and chat, they’re invaluable as resources of experience and knowledge that you simply don’t have.

Flickr – Capture queen

Always remember to never over-step the line – these are colleagues not brothers or lovers, they don’t need to know about your drunken weekend. Intimate relationships will always compromise either the relationships or your professionalism – even if they’re a model, just don’t do it.

Try put yourself into your writing – that sounds like the strangest concept but if you can get your personality into it (as long as you’re not a miserable recluse) then nine times out of ten it makes for more enjoyable reading. It’s a difficult art to master, especially when writing copy for big national papers, but give it a try, you’ll enjoy writing a whole lot more.

Going from the student lifestyle of waking up midday for 2pm lectures to working 9-5 and beyond is probably the biggest struggle you’ll face, trust me.

As long as you make the effort and think about what you’re doing, you’ll be fine. By the end of 2nd year I’ve managed to get a job as a PR assistant, and if I can do it with my constant radio sing-alongs then I’m sure you can!

PR Students: Why you should get blogging

Blogging. Nowadays it seems like everyone has a blog.

For me it was a way to get my creative side out when I was stuck behind a barrage of critical theory essays, and simply for the love of writing.

But why would I recommend PR students have their own blogs?

I’m not talking about setting up a platform to chronicle your dinner everyday or the movements of your pets (personally I keep that on my Instagram). Blogging is a realm to create debate, discuss issues with like-minded people and to find your voice.

For those of you wanting to set up your own blog but haven’t a clue, this short video below is really helpful for the initial steps:

Truth is, us PR students are constantly writing – whether it’s those dull theoretical essays, creative online content or structured news releases. A blog gives you the chance to start finding your own way of writing, to start figuring out a writing style that you can fit into any format to have your unique voice in every piece you do.

Having a blog can be a mini portfolio for employers to look at – see your writing skills, your knowledge and interests, and get to know you beyond your CV.

Most importantly a blog can help you get noticed. 

While it may be very commonplace now that everyone has a blog you can always try your best to stand out. When I first started this blog I wasn’t sure which way I’d attack it but it turns out giving student advice is something people want – so that’s the way it’s gone. It may not be earth-shatteringly original but for the moment I’m enjoying my time finding my voice.

I’ve now been featured in the #bestprblogs by @behindthespin twice and I’ll be honest, it felt really good to have someone recognise my work. But you’ve got to get out there in the first place!

Recently we had a guest lecturer at Sunderland – Anne-Marie Bailey. She came to speak to us about how to make our blogs stand out, after all, she is rather an expert.

Anne-Marie studied her masters here at Sunderland and she also set up a blog during her time here. Maybe a bit more courageous than most, she interviewed practicing professionals in the industry to have their tips and knowledge on her blog. Using #raisingtheprofile Anne-Marie continued the discussion with professionals across Twitter and was quickly noticed as a ‘rising star’. She was offered a job before she’d even graduated. Read Anne-Marie’s blog here: http://raisingtheprofile.wordpress.com/

It’s always nice having guest lecturers – a different face and a fresher knowledge base as most are still working in the industry. But knowing it was only a few short years ago that Anne-Marie was sitting in the same lecture hall I was and has already had such a successful career, well it’s inspiring stuff!

So PR students take heed – blogging can help your career. Just remember to leave the cats and selfies for something a little more private!