Tag: careers

SPINNING PLATES: THE IMPORTANCE OF MULTITASKING IN PR

PR is an incredibly exciting profession to be a part of. Each day is different and there is never time to get bored. With news angles changing by the hour, the industry is relentlessly fast paced. Add to this the fact that we have a portfolio of clients spanning multiple sectors, we must remain constantly alert. All of this while simultaneously managing numerous campaigns and social media platforms. It’s no wonder that working in PR is frequently likened to ‘spinning plates’.

If you feel a little out of breath already, you’re not alone! But, with some careful preparation and a lot of practise, the pace of PR becomes second nature. All while remaining as exhilarating as ever.

Plan, schedule and adapt

Keeping on top of each of these elements requires a lot of planning, so being prepared in this profession is a must. Only by creating robust schedules is it possible to consistently deliver all that is needed for our clients.

That’s not to say that there aren’t unexpected things to deal with too. In fact, much of our work involves little notice and short deadlines. Unfortunately, the news agenda waits for no one. If we want our clients to be on the correct side of it, being responsive and adaptable is vital.

Love to learn and learn to succeed

A love of learning is essential in PR, especially if you work agency side. Not only is it necessary to build on your understanding of the industry, but with each new client there are further opportunities to grow.

Devising social media and content marketing schedules for brands, PR has quickly become the profession responsible for subject matter experts and thought leadership. This means we need to be well versed in topics that we may never previously have imagined.

Being adaptable and willing to learn is a must for anyone wanting a career in PR.

Review, revise and thrive

Just when you think a task has been ticked off your ever-expanding list – think again!

To uphold the highest standards, approval processes are stringent. At Open Comms, regardless of seniority within the company, nothing leaves the building without having been seen by another set of eyes.

Each piece of content is then sent to the client for further approval. While this usually hits the mark, we are always open to revisions. After all, we want everything that we produce to be as close to perfect as possible. That way, our clients receive only the very best from us.

With feedback coming thick and fast, resilience is a really important quality for anyone working in the industry. Each client has their own style, so being able to adapt and respond to the needs of different personalities is certainly a skill worth having.

If you’d like to hear more about our spinning plates and juggling tendencies, or are interested in hearing more about the serious side of Open Comms (although we do find that a little giggle from time to time goes a long way) – visit the ‘what we do‘ page, give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact a member of the team on info@opencomms.co.uk.

WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT WORKING IN PR

What I love most about working in PR

Since earlier this year, I have had a lot of time to think about what I love most about working in PR. I’m not entering a mid-life crisis, although I am quickly approaching 40. My husband and I have adopted a baby.

This life-changing moment in our lives has given us both the chance to look back, as well as forward. During these last few months, I’ve been reassessing my priorities. Although family have always come first, I really appreciate the importance of work to me now too.

I thought it might be useful to share more about what I love most after more than two decades in the industry.

 

Variety

The first thing I love about PR is that no two days are ever the same. I’m not the kind of person that manages well with monotony or jobs that come with rigorous and defined process. What I enjoy is the variety of clients, objectives and tactics that we get to work with every day.

It could be a campaign to launch a new snack or a crisis that has the potential to bring a business to its knees. PR is a specialism with many benefits and that means we need to be on our toes. It’s not a job that you can plan for and know what’s going to happen each day.

There is always a list of things that you know will need completing, but there’s also the unexpected tasks that invariably impact on our working week too.

We have the pleasure of managing accounts for a huge array of clients and that supports variety. They all need something different and that makes PR really exciting.

 

Challenge

I wouldn’t say that PR is for the faint-hearted. It never stops. Never sleeps. Cannot be ignored. Putting you head in the sand when you work in PR is not an option.

Managing the press office for a number of clients is a challenge in itself. After all, how many people can say they are trusted with a brands reputation? It is arguably the biggest asset an organisation has.

Add campaigns, crisis, marketing materials and social media posts to the mix and you have a complex balance to manage every week. An old director of mine once said PR is like spinning plates, and I agree. Making sure they don’t fall certainly keeps the blood pumping.

 

Meeting people

It helps to be sociable when you work in PR. It isn’t a prerequisite; however, it does make life easier.

With colleagues, clients and journalists to work with, you need to be able to get on with others. That’s even before you consider influencers, partners, suppliers and brand buddies.

The positive to this is that you get to meet some really interesting people. As well as famous celebrities, I’ve met individuals that have had a profound impact on my life. Those that have taught me life lessons I will never forget. In addition, I’ve made some life-long friends.

I don’t think that is something that you should discard or take for granted. A career in PR will create experiences like few others and that’s another reason I love it.

 

A sense of achievement

In my opinion, it’s time to look for a new job when you stop getting excited by the results you can achieve in PR. Securing coverage, attracting an audience, featuring on broadcast, creating campaigns that get people talking. It’s all part of the mix.

I love that feeling of butterflies when you know something has gone well and you get the chance to share your achievements with clients and colleagues.

It’s not about showing off. It is about being proud of what you have achieved and knowing that you’ve done a good job. There are few better feelings.

 

Shared success

At Open Comms we have clients that have trusted us for years. As such, we have shared in their success. The reward that comes from this can be quite overwhelming. Whether it’s a charity that has changed beyond recognition or a brand that launched and is now a multi-million-pound business. Each client we work with gets our full attention.

Knowing that your efforts and hard graft has delivered for a business is genuinely fulfilling. PR is a specialism that can change opinion. It can influence decision. Grab attention. Provide a brand with purpose.

All of these things make it an incredibly powerful tool and that is a further example of what I love most about working in PR.

WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO WORK IN PR?

Why would you want to work in PR

It’s a fair question. PR is challenging. You never get chance to switch off. As part of the day job, you must manage multiple relationships. It’s about working to other people’s deadlines. There is a constant feeling of being accountable for your own actions, and sometimes those of others. So, why would you want to work in PR?

We work in an industry that is constantly changing and that makes it exciting and unpredictable. It also means that we need to keep abreast of any new tactics that could benefit our clients. This puts us in a position where we are constantly learning.

For those that like to push themselves, PR is a perfect career path. It isn’t for the faint-hearted. Unless you have worked in the industry, it’s somewhat of an enigma. The assumption is you write copy and send it to a journalist, but the reality couldn’t be more different.

The traits of a PR professional

Becoming an exceptional PR professional takes time and experience. I don’t believe you can ever stop learning and so, as a practitioner and business owner, I make it my mission to read, listen and digest.

Working in PR for more than two decades has changed me. I have had to adapt my style, consider my approach and ‘give my head a shake’ on many an occasion. Although I was as eager as the next graduate when I started my career, I can now see I was naïve and inexperienced.

I now appreciate that taking a step back, however urgent a deadline, will almost always benefit the outcome. Attention to detail is essential and sloppiness unforgiveable. Having the ability to communicate with a person as they prefer is a skill. Listening is as important as sharing your thoughts.

When we look for PR professionals to join Open Comms we don’t have a carbon copy that we replicate. There is no one size here. We know that to provide our clients with the best results, we need a team that has a variety of personalities and experiences.

The common denominator for us is that people work hard and that they have shared values; to do a job and to do it well.

Where the PR industry is heading

The future is an interesting path. It’s not one that we can predict with any certainty. This year of all others has shown us that. We hear a lot that digital communications will continue to dominate our lives and that this will be how consumers access information.

The way that I see it, rather than predict how an industry will change, we focus too much on a single medium. When we look at the reality, PR is more about the message, it’s content and timings. The medium is the vehicle, the PR is whatever it is you need to deliver.

The future for PR, as I predict it, will continue to focus more on the story, whatever the medium.

Storytelling is becoming increasingly important as people want to learn about the personalities behind the brands they purchase from. Being better equipped to make informed choices is an expectation, not an exception.

With the more mindful shopper comes the need to share. The challenge arrives when businesses are expected to put pen to paper. Messages need to be concise,  copy compelling and sharing consistent. The tone needs to be reflective of the brand and the approach honest. Furthermore, at every step, the communication that is being shared needs to resonate with the audience.

It’s not always as simple as it seems.

Appreciating the complexities

PR isn’t a game. It isn’t ‘fannying around with press releases’ or drinking fizz at events. Nor is it freebies, new outfits, fast cars and lunches. And, it isn’t easy.

The landscape changes every day; mediums change, trends change, tactics that will work for clients change. Every. Single. Day.

Our specialism is one that fits within the wider marketing mix. It is a skill and requires professionals to deliver if they want to achieve results for clients. Anyone coming into the industry thinking it will be an easy ride is in for a rude awakening.

Working across sectors and with business to business, business to consumer and third sector organisations keeps us busy. At Open Comms we appreciate that every single brief, from every single client, is different.

This means we have to deliver our very best all of the time. We can’t take one model and apply it to the next company. It doesn’t work like that.

The benefits are that we get to create year-round plans and campaigns that have real impact. We work to objectives and then share the results. This means we can share in the success of each brand we work with.

That feeling is invaluable.

Consistent, compelling content will deliver results

There is so much more to PR than meets the eye. We cover so many different skills from event planning to activation, creative development to crisis management. No two days are ever the same.

The one consistent in our industry comes back to copy. If we want to deliver results for our clients’ we need to use copy to meet with objectives. Creating consistent, compelling content that can be shared across platforms needs to be our bread and butter. The thing that we deliver better than all others.

The message should build, the creative support and the overall outcome be excellent results.

Storytelling, finding angles and articulating the message in the right way, using the right medium, at the right time is PR.

It is exciting, quick-paced and fun.

Getting to the heart of a story and sharing it with passion and enthusiasm is a skill. Seeing copy in print, whether online or in print, is a real achievement. Watching campaigns gain momentum is exciting. Sharing this journey and the subsequent success it brings to business is what makes our industry so appealing and a great career option.

Trying it out for size

When I started my training in PR, we were told to find some experience.

We would be expected to give up ‘our time’ to gain experience from agencies. Not only did it give us the opportunity to put the theory to practice, we could see PR in action. This was a real turning point for me and made me realise this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

For others starting out, my advice would be to do the same. Be eager, aware, assertive, willing to approach businesses, to ask for experience and be willing to work. If you have what it takes, I can guarantee that PR will be a career that keeps on giving.

For anyone interested in learning more please do call a member of the team at Open Comms.

TRANSITIONING FROM JOURNALISM TO PR, ONE YEAR ON…

This time last year, I was preparing to leave my career in journalism behind.

A necessary change

After four and a half years in the industry, I finally made the decision to switch to public relations. But, as my former colleagues often taunted and teased me about turning to the ‘dark side’, I can safely say that the transition has been an extremely illuminating experience.

During my tenure as a business journalist, I was on the receiving end of the hard work of many PR professionals. Whether it was receiving press releases, organising interviews, collecting client comments or the often-tedious task of sourcing high resolution images, collaborating with PR agencies makes the lives of journalists a hell of a lot easier.

Although I’m sure many in the profession may be quick to disagree, or squirm at this admission, it is the truth!

Yes, journalism is a competitive, demanding and high-pressured job, but it can also be extremely exciting and rewarding. The thrill of being the first to break a story, working towards an impending deadline, meeting high-profile individuals, being privy to many major announcements and simply not knowing what the next day may bring were just a few of the things I thought I’d miss about being a journalist.

When my decision came to light, I found myself on the receiving end of the vitriolic questions journalists often pose to their target. But the majority of my contemporaries would simply want to know ‘why?’

Leaving a legacy

In recent years the rollercoaster ride of being a journalist turned into more of a repetitive slog where the twists and turns were becoming less frequent and lacked the thrill they once provided. In a world of economic uncertainty and squabbling politicians, the same doom and gloom headlines dominated the news in a never-ending cycle.

‘What legacy is this?’ I often asked myself. The realisation finally came that it was my time to stop and get off the rollercoaster. Another force pulling me to the ‘dark side’ was the positive experiences I had during my frequent encounters with PR professionals from a plethora of different agencies. I was always intrigued about the variety of clients just one PR agency could work with and the diverse ways in which they strategically operate to reach a certain outcome.

Collaborating with multiple businesses; learning about different sectors; promoting beneficial initiatives; marketing the latest products or just simply learning and refining new skills are a number of aspects which made PR much more appealing to me than journalism. My days of finishing one story then going on to the next were over.

My PR journey begins

Not long after joining Open Communications, I was introduced to what it really meant to be an agency that delivered PR, social media and content marketing strategies for brands and businesses across a range of sectors.

The concept that public relations industry revolved around writing press releases and making phone calls all day was quickly eradicated. My reality check was quick. PR professionals are multifaceted, motivated individuals who need to prioritise their own time, strategically plan out each day and week and expect the unexpected.

The biggest eye-opener for me was initially monitoring the scale of the day-to-day tasks the team carries out and how they all form part of a results-driven process which is applied to every single client.

Gone are the days where I’d be churning story after story for newsletter after newsletter, hoping and waiting for the monotony to end. My daily activities now comprise a range of tasks I didn’t have the means to complete just one year ago.

With no two days ever the same, I can be writing copy for a clients’ new website; laying out a comms strategy to enter new markets or creating promotional content one day, to researching the latest innovative features in a specific field or carrying out a social media campaign across multiple platforms the next.

It is also worth mentioning that the good old-fashioned press release still plays an important part but it’s certainly not the sum of the piece!  This is the sort of legacy I want to leave, and I cannot wait to see where my PR career continues to take me.

My First Week at Work (by Ellie aged 15)

From the very start, here at Open Communications, we have made it our mission to give people a chance. Not everyone in the agency has come from a PR background but when people approach us, we take the time to think about the transferable skills that they have and how they could benefit our clients and the campaigns that we deliver.

It’s not all about degrees and qualifications!  

When it comes to young people, when possible, we like to give them the chance to experience the variety and wonderful world of PR through short placements. This isn’t just an exercise in CSR, it’s an opportunity to encourage, to nurture and to build the confidence of students that just may decide PR is the career choice for them.

And so, here is just one example of how we have done just that. Ellie (aged 15) is a secondary school student that lives in the same village as me. She was finding it hard to find a placement – and given that we live in a very remote part of the Yorkshire Dales, it’s hardly surprising!

Ellie approached me one weekend and asked if it would be possible to work at Open Comms. In the following blog (in her own words) she describes the week that she had with us and how in just five days she was able to draft a press release, write a blog, attend a client meeting and learn more about PR, an industry that before this experience she hadn’t heard of never mind considered as a career choice for the future.

 

My First Week at Work.

Finding a Placement.

A couple of weeks before work experience was due to begin, I found that it was more difficult than I had expected to find a placement, so I was going to stay at school for a week, which is really frustrating, because I was eager to get out and to learn outside of the classroom.

So, I decided to use my initiative to look for a placement outside of the local area. I was speaking to some family friends who have their own business and that is when Lindsey started to tell me about PR and what she does for a living.

It sounded really interested and I got really excited by the conversation. I had never heard of PR before, so this was completely new to me. I wasn’t sure if it would be possible, but I asked if she would be willing to offer me a place with her for my work experience. I felt so relieved when I knew I had a different place to go rather than school, nobody wants to stay in a classroom when they can experience something new and exciting!

Leaving home for a week.

Because the agency is in Leeds I have had to stay away for a week. I don’t normally stay away from home for so long, but I have done it on occasion before so I know what it’s like. Because I have never worked in an office before, just the local pub in my village, I had no idea what to wear and no Idea what I needed to bring with me.

Rather than stress too much about it, me and mum just threw some of my nicest clothes in a bag and hoped that I would have an outfit each day that would be suitable. I had to bring some of my dresses, which I very rarely wear, and it felt weird walking into an office with clothes on that I felt would be more suited to a night out. Needless to say, it was quite out of my comfort zone.

First day.

For a start, getting up at 7am every morning was the first hurdle! I normally get up at 8am for school, so it was a bit of a challenge getting up and ready to leave the house so early.

Once I was ready – and I had managed to get everything in my bag for the day ahead – me and Lindsey went to Tesco’s to get some lunch before setting off on the 30-minute drive to the offices.

The estate the office is in (Nostell Priory Estate Yard) is lovely and the sun was shining so it looked even better. Once we are all parked up and got our bags out of the car, we came into the office and I had a little desk set up for me with a laptop, sticky notes and pens.

I sat down and got out my note pad out ready to get started. Just then, Ed walked through the door and came straight up to me to shake my hand. I wasn’t really sure what to do, people don’t usually greet me like this and it freaked me out a little. I literally never shake anyone’s hand and I don’t know why but it scared me to death! (I have been laughing about it all week).

The first task of the day was for me to watch Anna go through the social media accounts for HARIBO. When she goes through all the social media she has to reply to any messages on Facebook and Twitter. It was great to feel useful, as I helped her to choose what to put in the replies to each of them.

Some of the comments can be quite interesting, while others are quite funny and made me laugh, it just goes to show what a varied mix of fans the brand has.  

When we had finished that, Lindsey sat me down to talk about a press release; what it is and what it is used for.

I had no idea where to start and although I could have asked for help, I could see everyone was really busy, so I used my judgement and watched a number of podcasts on how to structure a press release.

I noted it all down and put it together like a facts sheet off the internet. I then put some time aside to do some research about the charity that I was writing the release for.

Before long I was ready to put it all together; my first press release done, and in wasn’t that difficult although it did take me a while.

So, my first day done and I have to say, my first impressions of the team where that they’re really nice people and so welcoming. They’re also talkative which I really liked.

Day two.

On my second day I finished off the press release. I was very proud of the completed piece and I went through it with Lindsey. Although she made some amends, I was still really pleased to see that much of the content I had drafted was used.  

We then sent the press release to the organisation that it was about for their approval. Within the hour the company had come back to us and agreed it was a really good piece.

It felt really good to have it approved because it’s my first ever press release that I have ever done and they liked it, so when they came back with such positive comments it was great.

The next step was to send it off to a selection of local journalists. We did this using a platform called Vuelio. It is a website that has all of the contact details for all of the journalists in the country on so you know who the best person will be to send a release on to and which publications are relevant.

Day three.

On my third day I came into the office and Lindsey suggested that I draft a blog about my experience. I think blogs are important because they give people a little glimpse into your personality and what you’re interested in. They also draws people’s attention to the website that you are posting them on and can be shared on other channels like YouTube or across social media pages.

By this stage in the week, I feel quite settled in the office now, I’ve had a chance to get to know everyone a little bit better and they are all so lovely and friendly. I love the fact that they all watch Love Island (even Ed!) and it’s the topic of most of the convocations we all have together! 

On my lunch break I went for a walk around the park and it was gorgeous, its’s quite different than at home because all the fields and land is filled with cows and sheep (and their muck) but here it’s so well looked after and it’s such a big area to just walk around and take some time to relax. 

When I got back I was asked by Emma to pack some boxes for a campaign that the agency are planning. I didn’t really understand why I was doing it at first, but then Emma explained that it is a way of sending products to journalists and that it gives them chance to experience and eat the products that we distribute.

On this occasion we were working on an updated product for HARIBO which is still top secret!

Day four.

On the third day me and Lindsey went to see a client. It felt weird going into another office and discussing future plans with them about their company and on this occasion their new website.

The office looked quite modern and everyone that I met was very friendly, which was nice. Lots of people where smiling at me and I felt really welcomed.

We went into a large meeting room on the top floor, which was quite daunting, but we were soon discussing plans for the website and I felt confident enough to share my thoughts and suggestions. The client seemed quite pleased that I was interested and that I had some views to share.

It was quite a long meeting and we didn’t get back to the office until gone 3pm. I continued to write my blog and to record all of the things that I had done and learnt.

Day five.

Well, it’s Friday, and my last day of work experience. It’s been great; being a PR for a week is completely different to what my normal life is like. I like working in an office because the atmosphere is calm and the environment is quiet – until Anna and Mish start chatting about Love Island!

There are always lots of different things going on in PR and different ways in which you can approach things. It has been weird being away from home, but like I said, I have done it before and it’s not like I’m staying with strangers!

I’m pleased that I have learnt what happens in a PR agency and what the team is tasked to deliver for clients. The biggest achievement of the week has to be that I was able to draft a press release and understand more about the stages that it goes through to get to where it needs to be.

Lindsey has promised to keep me updated with the coverage and to share it with me when it comes through. I can’t wait to add it to my portfolio.

Over all it’s been a great experience and who knows, PR just might be the career choice for me in the future but for now it’s back to the classroom.

Taking the time to make a difference

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We try to make a difference wherever and whenever we can here at Open Comms but like many busy businesses, it’s finding the time that’s the trouble! It’s often the case that we have the best intentions but don’t have the hours in the day to contribute or commit to the good causes that we would otherwise support.

I’m not talking about putting some pennies in a pot, it’s more about the wider impact that we can have as a result of sharing our knowledge and adding some value where it matters most. Many charities are desperate for resources that go beyond financial donations and that’s where we are able to offer our support.

It’s not always about the pounds and pence

Just one great example of an organisation that understands the challenges that are faced by smaller businesses that still want to contribute is Ahead Partnership. The organisation works as a facilitator between schools and organisations to bridge the gap between learning and earning.

Working up and down the country, Ahead Partnership provides businesses with the opportunity to give something back. Not only does this benefit the local community, which is often a big tick for corporate organisations, but it also has a direct impact on the talent of the future – win, win.

What’s even better is that their programmes and activities are flexible, giving smaller businesses the chance to do their bit and get involved.

Back to the classroom

So, on Tuesday when I was invited to an interview practice session at Wakefield College I was really interested. The problem was that I simply couldn’t allocate a whole day to the activity. Ahead Partnership was great and gave me a half day slot so that I could contribute.

Walking into the College was quite nerve-wracking, as someone who didn’t do particularly well at school, I still expect to end up stood outside the head master’s office. Thankfully, there was no need for my heart to be hammering and I was instantly put at ease by the team.

I was given a pass and shown to a table to await the first student. We were equipped with an overview of the activity, which had been sent a number of days in advance, including a list of questions that we could use as a guide.

Remember your p’s and q’s

I believe very strongly that you should use your own experiences to positively influence others and one of the first real lessons I learnt as a young adult was to remember your p’s and q’s. This wasn’t about manners as such, but more about realising that your personality is just as important as your qualifications.

I truly believe that people buy people and that this is also true of interviews. As such, when the first candidate came into the room, I was immediately aware of the one thing I always notice… the handshake.

Interestingly, during the whole day, there was only one student who came across and put their hand out. It’s not necessarily a criticism (although I did mention it to each person who came along) but was simply an observation.

All of the students that I had the pleasure to meet with were articulate, ambitious and most surprisingly had a clear plan of action in terms of their next steps and where they wanted to be. They approached the session with gusto and were very gracious of any constructive criticism they received. Clearly, this was always followed up with the positive points too – I’m not a tyrant!

A lesson learnt

I must have met with around 8-10 students during the time that I was involved in the activity and I have to say I’m not sure who learnt the most.

The stories that the students had to share, particularly in relation to their motivations and influences, was simply remarkable. No two students were even remotely similar and they ALL had something very special to offer.

What was really refreshing was the variety of roles that the students were hoping to secure when they left school or graduated. Everything from a special needs teacher, business manager, digital developer, coding expert, hotel manager and everything in between! On top of that, they all had a real belief that they could achieve whatever they put their minds to. And so they should.

Encouragingly, most of the students I met had either volunteered or had part-time jobs. This is something that I hold in huge regard and think it is essential if you want to build experience and skills that will last a lifetime. I was also really pleased to hear that this is something that is very much endorsed by Wakefield College.

Final thoughts

What a great experience.

Although I was struggling to allocate the time in my diary, I am so pleased I took out just four hours of my day to do something different and to give something back. However insignificant you may think it is, I hope that just one of those students walks into a room and shakes the hand of the person in front of them.

But most of all, I wish each and every one of those students the very best and encourage them to continue to follow their dreams, wherever they may lead.