Hello and welcome to the second instalment of the “Thursday Thoughts with…” series on What Charlotte Said.
As a student I have so many questions to ask people who work in the industry, as I’m sure you do too, because we inspire to be successful in our career paths. And if you’re like me, you always want to know; who, what, where, when, why and how.
In this series I wanted to pull together some of those questions and speak to professionals who work in the industry to dig beneath the surface to find out why they chose PR, because you might be able to relate them to yourself.
I also wanted to find out what keeps them motivated in a world where things more at 100 miles per hour, as well as finding out the all important question, what tips do they have to help you pursue your career. I want people to feel inspired and to learn something new, whether that being about themselves, about the industry or about the person being interviewed. Because that’s what it’s all about, right?
This week I’m giving a warm welcome to former Sunderland PR student, Beth Smith.
1. What sparked you interested in PR and how did you get into it?
My journey into PR is quite a different one to be honest. I think at the age of 16 or 17 at college or sixth form most people are far too young to be choosing what you want to be doing for the rest of your life.
When it was time to apply for university and I wasn’t completely set on what to do but applied for PR, but unfortunately the course didn’t run that year. In the end I chose to complete an undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism, loved it, but I just knew PR was the one for me. So from then I went onto the PR masters degree at Sunderland University and have never looked back since!
It’s been quite a journey!
2. What is your current job role? Is it what you imagined it would be like?
Currently I do a combination of PR, Social Media Management and Influencer Marketing at Clear Editorial, a Digital Marketing Agency based in Whitley Bay.
I was actually very lucky to land my current role, it started with a three-month internship through the university straight after my first degree. This helped me to decide that PR was for me, so I went ahead with my masters degree and my boss offered me the opportunity to freelance two days a week alongside my masters and then onto full-time where I’m at now!
ADVICE: I’d always say get some hands on experience working in PR while at university before making the leap because it’s never going to be exactly what you expect and everywhere is different!
3. What do you love about your job?
I know everyone says it but the fact that every day really isn’t the same! Working with clients from so many different sectors who need different things on a day-to-day basis really is great. I’m always busy but I absolutely love it.
I do just love social media in general – how reactive it can be and the speed of the industry is just on another level. I work in a fairly small agency so something else I love, which I think is quite rare, is how much input I have for each client in terms of socials. It’s great to be gaining experience through different platforms in different industries.
4. What is your typical working day routine?
I’ve got quite the drive into work and don’t get me started on how bad that can be some days! But once I actually get to work, I spend the first half an hour or so checking through the news (Newsnow and Flipboard are golden in checking the news from different industries – fast!), having a catch up on all clients social media platforms, responding to anything and giving any updates.
It can then go anywhere from scheduling content, Influencer outreach, content creation, pitching to journalists, writing press releases, creating graphics or videos – it really does change day to day.
5. What has been the biggest learning curve for you so far?
Sorting out time management!
Especially when working with different clients at an agency, you need to make sure you’re not spreading yourself too thin and getting a good job done.
Making to-do lists and spreadsheets are honestly the biggest god send to keep on top of things. I’ve now fully turned into a list person whereas before I was more of a do now think later.
Also, as much as you might hate it at university, public speaking and being good on the phone is a must! You have to speak to people.
6. Being part of the PR Place’s UK Best Student Bloggers in 2019, how did that make you feel?
It really felt like a community! Nowadays the online world can be quite a harsh place, but using the #PRStudent hashtag and getting involved in the competition connects you with like-minded people and experts. I can’t thank Richard enough for his support and I can’t encourage current PR Students enough to get onboard with it.
Blogging has always been a great talking point when it comes to interviews too – the amount of messages I’ve received on LinkedIn etc from my student blogging really has been great, it gets you practicing your writing skills in general and keeping up to date with the industry!
7. If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
Stop stressing! I’ve always been quite the worrier about anything whether it be through school or where I was going to end up after university! Find what you love to do and stick with it, it will pay off in the end.
8. What three tips would you give anyone wanting a career in PR, whether that someone who is thinking about going to university or is studying it now?
You’ve already made a good choice, but my top three tips would be –
1. Talk to people! I can’t stress how important it is to get networking. Speaking to people already in the industry or even just other PR Students around the world, you really can learn a lot from other people! Twitter really can be the perfect networking tool too – follow PR people on Twitter to see what they do day to day, ask about their role, ask for advice. Or find out what events are going on locally that you could attend!
I have found PR to be a very welcoming industry, fellow PR people have been more than happy to share advice, feedback or just chat about PR. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
2. Create a platform for yourself – whether it be through a Student Blog or on Twitter/LinkedIn, these are the perfect way to stand out and express yourself.
3. Land some work experience of any kind – as I previously mentioned my freelancing during my masters degree led to my full-time role – get your name out there, spend a week at different organisations (both in-house and agency) to get a real feel of what it’s like to work in PR.
9. What aspect of PR do you love the most? and Who is your inspiration?
I love how immediate and how much of an impact PR has on a business – something I don’t think I fully understood before working full-time in it!
It’s really hard to choose a biggest inspiration in PR because there are so many people doing great things in the industry and I’ve learnt a lot from different people I have met throughout my (albeit quite short so far!) career.
10. Where do you see the future of PR heading?
A big question!
I think PR needs to be ready for quick changes in the industry, especially in terms of social media and influencers. As we’ve seen in the past few years PR meet Influencer marketing for huge impact. The rise of social influencer, particularly on Instagram, means PR professionals will begin more than ever integrating this increasingly common tactic into their own programmes – the perfect partnership to help directly access a specific target audience.
Also with the rise of platforms like Tiktok, who knows what platform will be next! I’m actually very excited for the future of PR and how it evolves over time.
Thank you so much for your time Beth!
You can follow Beth on Twitter, here.