If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be returning to university but on the other side of the ‘table’, I’d have probably laughed at the idea. However, I’m writing this blog after delivering a lecture to students at Southampton Solent University – my alma mater.
In front of students from the university’s PR, journalism and multimedia courses, I spoke about the
realities of PR and my experience of the working world. We talked about some of the myths of PR
(Ab Fab anyone?), the differences between working in-house and agency side, the attributes of a PR
person, and PR measurement and monitoring, to name but a few. I must say, they were a great
audience and laughed at all my (not so) funny jokes, along with admiring the numerous pictures of
my PR pooch Polly which I had inserted liberally across my slides…
My first reaction when being asked to speak was that of genuine interest followed by sheer terror. I
know I like to talk, but do I know enough to talk for an hour in front of people I’ve never met?! The
answer, it turns out, is yes. I surprised myself when putting together my slides and jotting down
notes about what I wanted to say. It’s a good job we’re not still in the days of cue cards or I would
have been stood there holding far too many.
The hour was soon up so we moved into a Q&A session where we talked more about recruitment,
work placements and finding a job that truly makes you happy. Who knows, maybe we’ll see one or
two students popping up on the éclat blog!
Meet the Professionals
The second part of my return to Solent involved taking part in the annual PR ‘Meet the Professionals’
event. Akin to speed-dating, I sat with fellow professionals and alumni to meet with students looking
for career and recruitment advice. I must admit, students these days are much more prepared and
organised than I was! I’ve been to a few of these events over the years now and I can say, hand on
heart, it was one of the best and busiest I’ve attended.
Many conversations were had over the course of the day, so I thought it might be worth distilling
some of my more ‘popular’ thoughts here:
• Don’t be afraid to try a bit of everything. Many PR students – and some professionals I
know – don’t yet know whether they want to work in-house or agency side. There’s nothing
to say you can’t try both. I did, and whilst I did enjoy my time in-house, it made me realise
that my strengths were better suited for the consultancy environment.
• Embrace your inner geek. You may have left, or soon be leaving, university but the learning
doesn’t end there. Working in a cyber security agency, there is never a day when I’m not
reading and learning something new. This goes for all other industries as well as PR in
general. Along with learning all you can about your chosen industry, the PR world never
• Fine-tune your skills. By this, I really mean your attention to detail and time management
capabilities. As a PR pro, these are probably two of the most important skills in your arsenal.
• Be happy in what you do. This is the most important one for me, especially having
experienced roles where the grass was definitely not greener on the other side. The job
could be everything you wanted and more on paper but if you’re not happy, it doesn’t really
As I also mentioned many times on the day, we here at éclat are always open to giving budding PR
pros a chance at some work experience, maybe even a job. So if you want to come see what it’s like
working with a great bunch of people, on subjects that can sometimes really blow your mind, get in
touch with us now!**
**A love of dogs is preferable as PR pooch Polly likes to come hang out on the desks!