Monday, 18 April 2011

Getting your foot in or breaking down the door of PR?

I got wind of this when it was tweeted by award-winning agency Brandon Hill Communications; courtesy of PR Daily, this gem of an article giving tips to newbies might as well have my name written all over it. It got me thinking. As someone with at least part of a limb in the PR world through freelance work with Spear PR, and someone who is still trying to break in and get himself employed full-time, what is the best way to get ahead of the game?

I ask this because I recently got rejected from the Lexis PR grad scheme — a disappointing outcome given the effort I had made/am making — and would be particularly interested to know what the successful candidates did that I didn't. Obviously I lacked something and it would make the world of difference to me to know what that something is. I don't begrudge Lexis or the candidates who got through, after all they were asked to stand out and that is what they did, I'd just love to know how for future reference. But, the whole idea of standing out is changing at a rapid rate. No longer do you just need a degree and some decent social skills, for example. Now it seems you need to CV to end all CVs, your own website perhaps, maybe even someone on the inside. The point I'm getting at is, in the grander scheme of things, are you more likely to get employed by getting your foot in the door with internships and placements, or is breaking down the door with presents and personal websites?

I should stress, I'm not suggesting that it is so black and white that either of these is a direct route, nor that you require either of them, but there is a sense in which you have to be special to stand out in a saturated graduate market.

It was this very thought back in September that lead to the incorporation of Spear PR. Stand out from the crowd, show initiative and entrepreneurial spirit, throw yourself in the deep end. It seemed such a brilliant plan. But there are times I question it; not the (ad)venture, which I've relished, but whether it is enough. Since incorporating Spear with Isobel I have got myself some swanky business cards, I have been slogging at boosting my Twitter, I fixed up myLinkedIn profile and joined various relevant groups which I participate in, I blog on here and on The Conversation, I even got myself a flash website with a downloadable CV, case study and every possible route of contact information. In summary, I'm not sure how much more I'd be able to do to boost my online presence and show the world that I have what it takes and I'm working to the ends of showing that off.

Would an infographic CV help?

I'd love to get myself one because they look great — which would certainly be better than this hilarious, but a little wide-of-the-mark effort! However, I also have a sneaking suspicion that for PR it might not be quite as effective as it is for other creative industries. Perhaps I should write a press release of myself? (This is actually something I'm going to do).

The PR Daily article I started this post with was helpful because it gave me a measuring stick to hold up against what I do, what and who I am, what I can achieve, and what I still need to do. Conclusion? Well, that has yet to reached. But I can certainly say I'm on the right track. Sadly, on the right track is the careers-guidance equivalent of not wanting to dishearten a decent candidate, which is why this question still plagues me: get my foot in the door or just break it down?

I'm thinking of doing a cost/benefit analysis of this: sending cupcakes to Brandon Hill Comms, Flowers to McCann Erickson, Barbershop Quartet to Palamedes PR, shouting my name from the rooftops followed by 'employ him'. Alternatively, I've got some work experience with Haslimann Taylor and, among other things, they will hopefully show me a way to get my foot in the market door. How to keep it there is up to me, as is how to get the rest of my leg in, but the opportunity is a great one and I'm really looking forward to showing them what I can do. Show them my toolbox, as the PR Daily article advises.

Until you've crossed the river it is impossible to give the best advice as to how to get to the other side, and I'm still walking up and down the bank waiting for the flow to subside enough, or some perfectly positions rocks/tree trunk/beaver dam to present itself as a crossing place. Until I'm on the other side looking back I, sadly, won't be able to offer an answer to this. Maybe someone who reads this can? How many careers are planned and how many are happy accidents? Or, I hope, many are happy accidents you plan on happening. Either way, I'll keep on working away and hope that the hard work pays off without the need to send a hundred red roses to the HR department of a comms company; and if I get there deliberately or through some happy accident, I'll be sure to write a letter to send back across the river to the thousands of others still waiting to cross. Hell, maybe I'll make them a youtube video and hope one of them sends me a cupcake or two — strawberry, if you please.

1 comment:

  1. The Barbershop Quartet would be truly tremendous, and would screw over cupcakes any day :)