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Wednesday 4 March 2020

PR student Eloise Newman interviews Solent Public Relations and Communication Alumni Martyna Stepien, who provides current students with advice from her experiences since graduating.

During the recent Meet The Professionals event I caught up with Martyna Stepien, an alumni from the Public Relations and Communication course at Solent. It was valuable for students to hear from the perspective of someone who has experienced what they are currently experiencing on the degree, as well as discovering what alumni have achieved after completing their degree at Solent. 

Hi Martyna! How has Meet The Professionals been for you this year? What have you taken away from the day?

This year’s Meet the Professionals event was the best yet, in my view. It was incredibly well organised and attended. Students came across prepared, keen to find out about different career routes, and skills they need in the professional world.

This year’s Meet The Professionals has been insightful for many students. Has Solent changed since you graduated?

Solent has definitely changed since I graduated in 2010. The course itself has been regularly updated and made relevant to the common communications trends. To put it in context, social media has had a massive impact on how we live in work – but when I first started my degree, Facebook had only just been established, Twitter wasn’t really a thing until later and Instagram or LinkedIn didn’t exist. Now students are required to consider all communication channels and their impact on PR and reputation management which is absolutely the right thing to do.

The university itself has also invested heavily in its infrastructure development – some of the buildings, like The Spark, didn’t even exist when I studied there! I’m pleased to see that students studying there at the moment have access to the latest technologies, spaces and equipment that could help them make the most of their education and experience.

As many of the students at Meet The Professionals were deciding between placements in agencies or within in-house teams, in your opinion, what is the difference between in-house and agency PR?

I believe that there isn’t a huge difference in skillsets required to work in-house or a PR agency. Both require good people skills, working alone and as part of a wider team, managing your internal and external stakeholders, delivering to deadlines – the list is long and I could go on forever.

The main difference, for me, between working in-house or in an agency environment is the level of knowledge about your client or product and time spent on specific projects. Agency environment tends to be very fast-paced, often with multiple projects for many clients happening at once. This can also be the case when working in-house, however, normally you have or are gaining in-depth knowledge and insight about your company, how it works as well as product or service details. When working in-house, one is usually able to talk about the company’s strategy and direction, and voice opinions on a range of different topics, rather than one specific campaign or a project.

What is the most important lesson you took away from your time at Solent?

Working to deadlines and a whole list of practical skills that I use daily in my professional life. Campaign planning, stakeholder mapping, writing press releases and other content, managing PR issues and crisis, measurement and evaluation are all very important when working in communication.

And finally, if you could give any piece of advice to Solent PR students, what would it be?

Be open to all opportunities – you never know what you’ll learn, who you’ll meet and where it can take you!

Thank you so much to Martyna for participating in this interview and giving such great advice to our PR students!