Growing up I knew I didn’t want a traditional career like a doctor, teacher, lawyer. At first I thought I wanted to be a ballerina, but I quickly realised I didn’t have many skills in that area and simply being a huge fan of ‘Angelina Ballerina’ didn’t qualify you for this career. About midway through high school I decided I wanted to be a journalist, I always had a passion for writing, public speaking and was interested in current affairs especially in the world of fashion and magazine journalism. After a week’s work experience at the ‘Ulster Tatler’ magazine and an A* in GCSE Journalism I was pretty affirmed in my career goals.
When it came to deciding what I wanted to do at University, I was torn between two courses Journalism or CMPR. My parents tried to persuade me to go for CMPR as my first choice, as they thought it was a more modern degree that adhered to many different career paths whilst journalism was somewhat of a dying art. In hindsight I should have listened to them. But being a headstrong seventeen-year-old, I decided to go for Journalism as my first choice and CMPR as my second choice.
So I went to Coleraine to study Journalism, but one thing I realised, was I was a lot more interested in my Media Studies modules than I was my Journalism counterparts. In my Media classes we were looking at marketing and advertising campaigns and brand’s positioning on media issues such as gender, race and politics. I found this was inherently more appealing to me than looking at traditional in-print media. But I wasn’t going to let my dreams of being a Journalist slip that easily.
In April 2016, when I had to move home due to medical issues, I could no longer continue my Journalism degree at Coleraine. But as they say, often everything happens for a reason and I then ended up in my first year of my CMPR degree in September 2017. It’s possibly the best twist of fate that’s ever happened to me, and I would never change it for the world. I get asked a lot if I could go back, would I have rather continued my Journalism degree and pursued a career in that and the simple answer is no, my heart is firmly set in pursuing a career in PR now and I’m so glad that I took the chance on beginning a course in PR.
Three years down the line I am now six months away from graduating and I currently have my dream job as a PR and Content Creation Assistant at a local PR Agency, which I will continue full time after I graduate. So as it wasn’t love at first sight for myself and PR, why have I grown to love the industry?
Well in the PR industry, no two days are ever the same, as mundane as a 9-5 job can sound, when working in PR it’s anything but. Whilst the overall task stays the same: make your client look good to its publics. The ways in which you could be executing this are almost infinite. From creating a PR Strategy to writing a press release to organising an event or managing your client’s social media platforms. I love the varied nature of the job, as I never know what to expect and I know I will never get bored of the industry. Depending on where you work you will also have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients in different niches, this affords you the chance to see what you like and don’t like before you might choose to specialise in one area. For example, in my current role I work with clients in the food and drink, fashion, fitness, arts, business and tech industries. This has allowed me to experience the different approaches and media channels which need to be utilised in each particular field. As I have always been interested in fashion, my aspirations for the future are to work in an in-house PR and Marketing Department for an online fashion brand.
One thing that attracts me to the industry is the reactive and ever changing nature, I love keeping up with trends on Twitter and often campaigns can be based off what’s trending right now. This is particularly something that I write about on my PR Blog: ‘Today on The Internet’, I am fascinated by the fast nature of the industry, similarly to Journalism where it’s important to react to developments quickly before they are ‘yesterday’s news’. This is also the case with new future developments in technology that are important to consider for your brand message. For example; Voice Based Search is becoming ever more popular with the rolling out of products like Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri. It is important for PR Practitioners to take into account what a brand sounds like when copywriting or looking at SEO, as consumers could not be searching by voice as well as by typing. 10 years ago we would have had no idea about these developments or what social platforms would be most popular, this is something that excites me about the industry, we don’t know what it will be like in 10 or even 20 years, newspapers could cease to exist, social platforms like ‘Tik Tok’ could be the new Facebook for brand content.
Whilst developments in technology are decreasing the need for workers in some areas, I think it’s absolutely the opposite with PR. I think developments in technology are requiring brands to have an online presence and engage with their customers in more new and creative ways, therefore requiring a PR expert to facilitate this. PR is an extremely important industry and we engage with hundreds of items of PR material on a daily basis without even realising it, from the advertisements on bus stops to posts by social media influencers on our Instagram feed, these have all ultimately come from PR Practioners
As a young person I still want to travel and experience the world as much as I can whilst in my 20s. I love the freedom that a career in PR gives me. Although I currently work in a 9-5 office based role, whilst completing my degree. There are so many freelance opportunities within PR and realistically all you need is a good WiFi connection and a laptop to be able to freelance. My current role allows me to work from home should I need to and I even took my laptop on a recent trip to London and was able to keep up with my clients via email and work remotely. This freedom is a great perk of the job for me. My mum always wanted me to be a teacher (she’s a teacher) because you get the whole summer off. But why should I do that, when my office could be a beach in California and I’m doing something I love?
The career gives you unlimited opportunities to upskill and learn more in the industry, my boss’s mantra is ‘Every day’s a school day’ and I think that’s particularly potent in the PR industry. You can simply never know it all in the industry and I take up any opportunity to attend talks or workshops where I can learn from other practitioners. Some areas I’ve learnt about recently are; Mail Chimp, LinkedIn Marketing and Google Ads. I hope to be able to get the opportunity to speak at some events myself in the future where I can educate others on my specialities. Currently my key interests in the industry are Influencer Marketing and Inclusive Marketing and PR Campaigns and these topics form the basis of my reading and research. I think events like the Belfast Media Festival and Digital DNA in Northern Ireland are exciting events and provide a great space for learning and development of industry professionals. I look forward to being able to progress my career in the future and build up a network of contacts in the industry. There is a great community of PR Practitioners on Twitter and LinkedIn, it can be interesting to engage in conversation and hear a wide range of opinions on these platforms.
In conclusion, I may have taken the scenic route to my career in PR but I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason and I think I am in exactly the place I should be right now. Maybe I should have listened to my parents, but I think I needed to find my way to this path by myself. I look forward to what a future in PR will look like and am excited to progress my career even further. But granny please don’t ask me what I do for work over Christmas dinner, unless you have two hours.