Have I ‘gone corporate’?
Posted by Paul Allen on 2nd April 2018 / 0 comments
Soon after I completed my GCSEs, my dad started encouraging me to gain some work experience with him at Rise PR. Now that I’m twenty years old and in the second year of my degree in French and Spanish, I have finally taken him up on his offer.
I had no idea what to expect from the experience - I had never worked for a family member before, I rarely left my university bubble and, to be brutally honest, I still would have struggled to give you a clear definition of PR. That said, I was eager to try something new and step out of my comfort zone by gaining some real-world professional experience.
So, here are the reflections of a fresh-faced, enthusiastic and idealistic youth who finally ‘went corporate’ and entered the mysterious world of PR:
1) It’s all about the variety
I quickly came to admire the wide skillset that was required of PR consultants (and interns). Instead of micro-managing my time, Rise PR gave me a list of tasks to be completed by the end of the week and I was astounded by the sheer scope of them. Not only would I need to write engagingly and eloquently to draft blogs for the website, but I would need to employ logic and analysis whilst collating press targets and conducting social media audits.
Most mornings, Paul’s work would be interrupted by calls with clients or journalists and he was constantly juggling a million different projects. Running his own business added another dimension to the work, as we had to focus on managing our own brand in addition to that of our many clients.
I soon realised that this level of variety was highly compatible with my skillset. I enjoyed forcing my brain to work in several different ways in one day, rather than letting it mull over one extended project for eight hours straight. I interspersed the heavier tasks, such as writing, with those that required less mental agility. It hadn’t occurred to me that my personality type would be such a good fit for the PR industry.
2) PR as a creative industry
Before my internship, I never would have had PR down as a particularly imaginative trade. However, one week on the inside quickly revealed the amount of strategy and creativity that goes into each and every project.
Whilst the tactics used to raise a company’s profile – press coverage, increased social media presence, award nominations – tend to repeat themselves, services are always tailored to the needs of a client. For example, we targeted a local retailer with a limited social media presence and consulted them on how to use enhanced online visual content to improve their brand.
Once the strategy has been decided, designing attractive graphics or drafting blogs and press releases still requires a creative approach. This appealed to me as I always enjoyed story-writing as a child. I don’t know if my blog post on the best tools for visual content can be described as ‘poetic’, but I certainly enjoyed having the freedom to produce my own content. It demonstrated that aspects of PR that I once considered ‘serious’, such as in-house marketing and press releases, could be incredibly innovative.
3) Crucial to commercial success
Having worked at the heart of a PR company, I now fully understand the importance of the practice in a business context.
As I collated the names and numbers of journalists to be contacted in regard to a restaurant launch, I realised that the sustained, low-level presence of companies and services in the press was something I took for granted. Advertisements are all well and good, but the value of raising a company’s profile without explicitly telling the consumer to buy into them cannot be underrated.
This subtlety is quite a skill - Paul showed me an example of a successful client press release (that made the press) so that I could get a grasp of the writing style. It was simultaneously succinct enough to grab the journalist’s attention and stimulating enough to communicate the particular interest of their service.
I am used to producing essays that are only relevant to myself and my tutors, so it was exhilarating to contribute to the success of companies that I had never even met. When writing blogs, I found it refreshing to alter my writing style to make it more purposeful, pragmatic and practical, targeting the different audiences and contributing to the business.
So, have I “gone corporate”? Will I abandon my ambitions of working in government and embrace the pernicious private sector? I cannot say for certain, but I do know that I left this internship hungry for more - I felt eager to start drafting press releases of my own and talking to clients and journalists. At the very least, my experience working in PR has left me open to considering alternative career prospects.
It’s safe to say that working with Rise PR was the right decision. Emerging triumphantly with a host of transferable skills, an enhanced knowledge of the media industry and a LinkedIn account, I now feel ready to enter the real world.