Today PR_SSU alumna and account executive at Lee Peck Media Rebecca Henderson joined second year students to advise on how to prepare for their placement this summer. She was accompanied by PR_SSU’s Madison Potter, currently studying on the new accelerated public relations BA program, who is completing her work placement at Lee Peck Media.
Rebecca shared a wealth of information from her time in the industry so far, including her top tips for succeeding on placement:
Rebecca began by addressing every PR student’s nightmare, the press release. Admitting that she has not always been a confident writer, she advised students to be resilient, grow a thick skin, practise and to always take advice, “if someone’s willing to give you their time, take it!”
Insider tip – Your way isn’t someone else’s, but that doesn’t mean that its wrong! Writing is a very personal thing, and you may well be working alongside people who have 30 years of industry experience. The day you get a press release back with no amendments will be a great one, but until then keep writing and you will keep improving!
Selling Into Journalists
Rebecca spoke of how ‘selling in’ was a learning curve for her, having not been something she had ever experienced before. Selling into journalists is often done when a email alone is insufficient. However, your enthusiasm will not always be matched by the journalist’s! Selling in often requires “charm, wit and guile,” these are soft skills that will pave the way through your entire career, building up your confidence, and cultivating your connections.
Insider tip – Be in the moment, always try your hardest and attack every job with gusto.
Event planning plays a large role in PR, and with planning comes organisation. Rebecca suggested for students to “be the uncool kid with everything prepared.” Organisation transfers through into the day to day life of a PR practitioner, your day can be turned upside down by one call so keep organised by making notes, using a calendar and attacking jobs as you come across them, that way you won’t forget anything!
Insider tip – Preparation goes a long way, a forgotten pair of scissors and ribbon at an event is a missed photo opportunity – coverage that you cannot get back!
A large part of PR, and one that second years have yet to experience is crisis management. Rebecca’s advise was to keep calm d cool in the situation and go straight to your manager. Also by shadowing colleagues and asking questions you will pick up tips fast, it may seem really daunting now but in a few years time you will be a pro!
Insider tip – Get as much information as possible from the caller/journalist, but do not comment, and ensure you put nothing in an email that could come back to bite you.
What To Wear
An issue that effects most women daily, and when on placement the task can seem even more daunting. Most agencies are fairly casual however Rebecca encouraged students to keep a blazer or smart top on hand in case of a last minute meeting with clients. Madison keeps a pair of heels under her desk, just in case!
Insider tip – Be prepared, and always have comfy shoes to hand!
Converging careers is not an unknown concept to PR_SSU students, with the conference late last year (which Rebecca also spoke at!) highlighting the convergence of PR, Marketing and Journalism. The PR skill set is forever growing, and Rebecca herself admitted to taking herself back to school this coming September to develop her Photoshop knowledge.
Insider tip – Never stop learning, if you can walk into a placement with a skill that others lack you will stand out!
Something that all students took away was that, in PR, you will get out what you put in. So always be enthusiastic, proactive, ask questions, and engage. If you work hard then you will succeed.
Thank you again to Rebecca and Madison for giving their time and words of wisdom to PR_SSU’s second years!