How To Succeed In PR: “Passion, Creativity and Drive…”

What exactly is it that top PR agencies are looking for in their young recruits? Don’t worry guys, your spies over at Enternships are on the case…

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Plenty of our students are looking to kick-start a career in the creative industries, but aren’t sure as to what skills they need to demonstrate to really impress. We sat down with Lucy Dormandy, Senior Associate at the bright and brilliant Emanate PR, to find out a little more about what a successful agency looks for in their team members.

What do you love about your job at Emanate?

The great thing about working within a PR agency like Emanate is that no two days are the same. Whether you’re organising a press trip, holding a conference call with colleagues across the world, or securing an awesome piece of coverage for a client, you’re certainly never bored. I also love having clients that I’m proud to work for, like Philips, Epson, Ukie and Southern Railway. It really motivates me to get up for work each morning and do a great job. With 18 of us working together at Emanate, it’s also a lovely working environment, where everyone gets to know each other, and you work as a team to deliver excellent results for our clients.

What skills do you need to be good at PR?

A genuine interest in the media and how it operates is a good start. Having great communication skills, whether written, via social media or over the phone, is also key. Add to that a sprinkling of creativity and a glug of good organisation, and you’re sorted. The cherry on the top is being a natural people person, allowing you to build solid relationships with journalists, clients and colleagues.

What do your company look for in the people they hire?

Passion, creativity and drive to achieve great results are key attributes to working at Emanate. A good sense of fun and a love of dogs is also useful, as we have a few in-house hounds that make office appearances throughout the week!

Is there anything (or alternatively anything lacking) on a CV or job application that would be an instant turn off?

It sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how many spelling mistakes we see in CVs that are sent to us. In the communications industry, where clients expect and deserve an excellent quality of work, this is a big turn-off when looking for potential candidates. Proof-reading of CVs is a must! Lack of creativity is also a turn off. It’s a competitive industry, so use your CV as a way to stand out from the crowd.

What would really impress you at interview?

Someone who is confident, friendly and genuinely on the pulse with latest trends and insights, with an opinion on what brands are doing well and not so well in the PR space, is always impressive. Any practical PR experience they already have that they can talk about is also beneficial, showing that they have some experience of the working world and an understanding of how it operates, so we know they won’t be a fish out of water when they arrive.

Is there a ‘best way’ to get started in PR, in your opinion?

I don’t think there is a “one-size-fits-all” route into PR. In my opinion though, beginning your career by doing an internship in an agency or in-house is an ideal way to gather the skills needed to launch into full-time employment. It can also be useful to have some form of journalism experience, whether that is school, university or the working world, so that you get an idea of how PR works from a journalist’s perspective, and get an eye for what makes a great story.

University applications are down 17% – would you consider a degree a necessity to kick-start a career in media/PR?

For some agencies a degree is a necessity, but I think times are changing and the industry is realising that there are many talented young people out there who don’t necessarily have a degree, but have the skills needed to be excellent PRs. I believe this is a trend set to continue in the years to come.

What was your first full-time job? And did it help inform what direction you wanted your career to go in?

My first full-time job was an internship at a Corporate Social Responsibility consultancy called Corporate Citizenship. It predominantly involved writing for their magazine, and it provided an invaluable insight into not only the latest developments in CSR, but also how journalism works and the role PRs have to play. It was invaluable experience that inspired me to pursue a career in PR, where I predominantly focus on CSR and corporate work, helping companies tell their stories of success to the world. It was the perfect start to my career.

Any final words of wisdom for those looking to get into a career in PR?

Don’t forget that there are lots of different types of PR, from beauty and fashion, to healthcare, corporate and many more besides. I’d strongly suggest making sure you pursue whichever type of PR you are genuinely interested in and passionate about, not just which you think will be the highest paid or provide the most perks. Your passion and natural insight into the sector will come across in your interview, and it will also put you in good stead to have a career that you love, and what more can you ask from a job than that?

Lucy Dormandy is a Senior Associate at London-based PR consultancy, Emanate. With six years of experience in the communications industry, she specialises in developing and implementing communications strategies within UK and pan-global organisations, including Epson, Philips, TalkTalk, Ukie and Almirall. Main areas of expertise include corporate positioning, CSR and issues based campaigning.

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Natasha Hodgson is the Content and Community Manager over at Enternships. She loves writing about inspiring things, and Nicolas Cage. Luckily, those two things are not mutually exclusive.

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