PR and journalism are often at the opposite ends of the spectrum, even though we work together a lot of the time. I’ve learnt a lot about PR in my first semester of university, so I decided to give you another insight into the PR industry.
Here’s what Becky had to say!
How did you get into your job?
I didn’t intend to go into PR initially. My dream was to work in publishing in London, but after finishing university and indulging in a bit of travelling, a year of waiting tables and getting zero interviews led me to look elsewhere.
Frustratingly, what was holding me back was living in the South West; no London company would consider me until I moved. Just as I was about to take the financial leap and move, I saw my job advertised on GradCornwall.
I grew up in Plymouth, so always Cornwall held a special place in my heart and had always been where I’d go on weekends; it was the last place I expected to come across a job role like mine.
I didn’t actually get asked for an interview initially. After the submission date had passed, I politely emailed the managing directors of Perfect Stays wishing them luck with their candidates and reminding them that I was still interested in the role. I got a call that night.
What do you like about your job?
Every single day my job is different. As a small, but rapidly growing, business, I not only have to try and secure coverage for the holiday homes that we rent, but get stuck into responding to holiday enquiries, taking bookings, planning itineraries for holiday makers and maintaining the social media accounts.
What are some of the challenges of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is securing press coverage! Hospitality is such a competitive industry. Travel writers and bloggers are pitched constantly from all angles. You really have to have something special to stand out amongst all the noise.
What do you think are some of the challenges in the creative sector?
Across most industries that come under the umbrella of the creative sector, the continuous and accelerating advancement in technology is probably the biggest challenge, in terms of keeping up with the newest Google Algorithm update, the best way to attract new customers or the most effective social media tactics… it’s endless, but never dull.
If you did a degree, how has it helped you?
I did a degree in English, which typically everyone instantly assumes will lead to a career in teaching.
I was told to study what I enjoy, so I did.
And actually, it covers a wide range of basic skills needed to work in publishing, journalism, PR, social media – in fact, most creative roles. There’s no room for poor spelling or grammar in the creative industries. It’s helped me to be analytical and always look for the underlying story that might not at first be prevalent – crucial when trying to persuade a writer to write about your product!
Why did you pick to work the sector that you work in?
PR for me was a natural progression. My first post-grad role involved doing work experience at a publishing house in the South West: an intensely dull 3 months doing admin.
In my last 2 weeks, I’d finished the project I’d been temporarily employed to complete, and they let me loose on their Twitter and Facebook accounts. I was hooked.
I couldn’t believe that someone might pay me for what I do in my spare time anyway. Those two weeks lead to a role in social media and blogging for a small Plymouth ecommerce business, the experience of which laid the foundations of moving into my current role and allowing me to develop and round-off my communications experience with the biggest piece of the PR puzzle – media relations.
Describe a typical day in your job.
My day starts off with syphoning through emails and sharing out the holiday enquiries with the sales team, followed by quickly browsing my news feed on ScoopIt to see if there’s anything relevant to the South West tourism sector that I can schedule to Tweet during the coming days, and scanning through my filtered news feeds on Tweetdeck, particularly #Journorequest, to see if there’s anything I can contribute to.
These days, the rate that we’re signing up new properties, the rest of my day is made up of writing property descriptions for new homes that we’ve taken on, and in turn contacting relevant press contacts that might be interested in doing a story on a new holiday home; whether that be a mention in a round-up, full review or interview with the owner.
Any advice for people wanting to get into your sector and/or the creative industry?
Work experience is invaluable to gaining the experience that a potential employer wants to see on your CV. As frustrating as it is to work for next-to-nothing, it can make all the difference, and speed up the post-grad job hunt process.
It may even awaken some interests and skills you hadn’t considered before: those two unplanned weeks of social media management revealed a whole new industry I hadn’t even considered.