Friday, 20 November 2009

'Sorry we are short on desk space'

I have been studying MA Public Relations for seven weeks now and so far I’m really enjoying it. Part of the course requires me to undertake a four week work experience placement within PR from 11th January to 5th February.

So far I have applied to 32 firms which consist of agencies as well as in-house PR teams. I have been rejected from 14 firms, three firms are considering my application and I am still waiting for responses from the remaining 15. However, many of the firms I am waiting to hear from are ones which I have only applied to in the last couple of days. 13 of the firms I have applied to include Premier League and Football League club press offices, I have chosen to apply to these as I have a big passion for football and would like to work within sports PR in the future.

One of the reoccurring answers I have received when being rejected includes, ‘it is rare that we can accommodate anyone for work experience as we are really short on desk space.’ The answer from most of these firms, whether agency or in-house is that they haven’t got the capacity or enough desk space to accommodate a work experience placement student. This has led me to think, are PR firms really that small? After lots of researching on the internet I have come to the conclusion that while many PR firms are small there are also a few big ones.

One of the factors that could have contributed to me receiving all these rejections could be that I have only applied to places within the East and West Midlands, with over half of them based within Leicestershire. Many of the big PR firms are located within London and the South East. After looking on many graduate job websites I have found that the PR agencies which offer graduate schemes are all located in London, so if I want to get into PR via the route of a graduate scheme I would almost certainly be forced to relocate.

I have a few more weeks left to try and secure a placement so my plan is to follow up the firms which have yet to respond to me and if I am still unsuccessful then I will have to try firms in other locations regardless of the distance. This whole experience has taught me that it’s not easy to pick and choose where you want to live when getting a career.

Monday, 2 November 2009

CIPR Speed Networking Event

Last Tuesday I attended a Public Relations speed networking event which was arranged by CIPR representative, Lisa Jones who is also PR Account Director at Reeves Green Partners Ltd in Lichfield. I had the opportunity to meet seven different people working within Public Relations, all with different levels of experience and different job roles. Some of the companies which these PR practitioners work for include Haslimann Taylor, Hopwood, Everards and Unsworth Sugden, as well as many more.

The main reason why I attended this event was to find out more about working within PR and how I go about getting a PR related career after I complete my MA Public Relations degree. Just a few days before I attended the event I had been searching on the internet for jobs within PR and I was disappointed to find out that there is only a handful of agencies that offer graduate schemes and even then they don’t take many people on.

The majority of job vacancies for PR Account Executives ask for applicants to have a minimum of six months previous experience of working within PR, this gave me the dilemma of how would I get my first job when no one will employ me without previous experience? This made me want to find out more information and this was part of the reason I attended the speed networking event.

After speaking with many of the PR practitioners at the event I learned that the best way to go about getting your first PR job is by perseverance. A lot of the people I spoke to were refused by many agencies before they got their first job and they just took each rejection with a 'pinch of salt' and carried on applying for more jobs.

Another important thing I found out was to show how creative you are to the employer and showing them your personality as it is your personality which normally gets you the job in the interview rather than your CV. I also learnt about what an average day is like working in a PR agency or in-house PR team. The type of work involved varies depending on the size of the agency and whether you’re working in an agency or in-house.

I have learnt a lot from speaking to all these people and have been given some great advice which I am going to use in the future. I am also a lot more optimistic about getting a job after my degree and am a lot more aware of what qualities are looked for in a PR practitioner. I thoroughly enjoyed the speed networking event and would advise anyone interested in a career in PR to attend any future ones.