Bloggers – we need you!

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I must apologise.  I have dropped off of the blogosphere for a while as I haven’t even had time to read any, let alone write any.  I have joined a new venture, Unicornjobs.com, and as we head towards our soft launch time seems to be one of those things I just don’t have any more.  However, I feel a virtual slapped wrist coming my way and so as my teacher friends keep telling me – I must try harder.

Anyway, I don’t want to talk about my part in Unicorn Jobs for a while – there will be much to reveal but all in good time. 

In the meantime, we are on the hunt for some bloggers and where better to find bloggers than on the blogsphere?

Here’s the details…. drop me a line if you’re interested.

Unicorn Blogs

unicornjobs.com is a new graduate careers website – the one-stop guide for students and recent graduates looking for advice on how to choose, pursue and succeed in their chosen career.

With a ‘soft launch’ in November 2007, unicornjobs.com will include articles on all key job sectors, with guides on how they function and how you can get into them, plus interviews with people working in those sectors, and those who recruit for them.

In addition to news stories and articles, unicornjobs.com will also include a blogs section where readers will be able to read the opinions and about experiences of various people involved in the website, including our editor, publisher and recruiter.

We will also include blogs from people embarking on their chosen careers – either final year students currently going through the ‘milk round’, or recent graduates starting their first jobs.

We are currently looking to recruit:

•    someone who started work this year on a formal graduate recruitment programme – ie some who has started work as a graduate trainee.

•    someone who has recently started their first job after graduation, but who isn’t on a formal graduate recruitment programme.

If that sounds like you, read on…

What we require

Our bloggers will:

•    write honestly and entertainingly about their experiences of their first job after graduation.
•    identify interesting topics to write about.
•    blog at least twice a week on relevant topics, writing between 100 and 300 words each time.
•    submit coherent spell-checked copy.
•    write within unicornjobs.com style guidelines (these will be very flexible for bloggers).

You will email your blog entries to our operations manager, who will arrange for them to be uploaded to our site.

What we offer

Blogging on unicornjobs.com is a great opportunity for anyone looking to develop their journalistic skills. You will have your work published on a high profile new careers website, plus receive ongoing feedback from our experienced editorial team, and direct access to our career advisers. We pay each blogger a fee of £25 a month. Our bloggers write under a pseudonym allowing them to be honest about their experiences in working life.

How to apply

If you are interested in becoming a blogger for unicornjobs.com email your name and CV plus a first blog entry to info@unicornjobs.com, telling us which blogging spot you are applying for.

From time to time we will recruit other bloggers. If you have an idea for a blog which thing will interest our audience of graduate jobs seekers, please get in touch, ideally with a sample blog.

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PR Perspective – Simon Collister

Simon_collister_2 So I’m a bit late with this week’s PR Perspective.  The eagle eyed amongst you will notice there wasn’t one at all last week.  Blame BT – they cut our internet connection earlier than we’d asked for in our old offices so it took a week for us to get back online.  Humpf.

Anyway, this week the victim interviewee, is Simon Collister. 

Following an internship with The Times Simon worked for a number of national organisations where he was responsible for planning and implementing creative high-profile campaigns across the media and in Government.  After leaving the voluntary sector Simon worked for a Yorkshire-based PR agency handling a range of not-for-profit, public sector and commercial clients.

Simon is an expert on blogging and developing the use of social media within PR and campaigning.  He blogs at Simonsays… and eDemocracy Update and has been named as "one of the to UK PR bloggers" by PR Business magazine.  He joined EIS in May 2007.

How long have you been blogging?
Oh…since February 2006, so 19 months.

Why did you start?
I went along to the fantastic conference Delivering the New PR put on by the lovely people at Don’t Panic.  It talked about the ‘future’ and ‘PR’…so had me immediately.

Do you think blogging has helped your business?
From an Edelman perspective, blogging and the changes being brought to the PR and communications business by wider online social changes are at the heart of what we’re doing as a PR firm.  Personally, I agree entirely with what we – the company – are doing.  I am 100% confident that we are seeing a major shift in public behaviour and attitudes being unleashed by technology – rather than the other way around.  Smart PR firms are recognising that and changing the way they do PR but also the way they operate as an organisation.  But that aside, blogging has definitely helped me as an individual…helped me get jobs, making amazing contacts, and meet loads of fantastic people – sometimes even in person too!

What do you feel is the biggest challenge about writing a blog?
At the moment, the biggest challenge is finding time to write.  Between trying to move house, working full time and having a life it’s a real struggle.  What to write about shouldn’t really be an issue – if it is, then perhaps you shouldn’t write a blog.  Always a handing bit of advice for clients who want to blog as well.

What do you want your readers to know about you?
Oh.  Deep.  Erm…That I write for them.  That I’m passionate about society and how improving communications and understanding can help make the world a better place.  For me technology is great – but on inasmuch as it represents progress; is a means to an ends and not the end itself.  There was a great quote I read on Richard Bailey’s blog.  It came from John Naughton at the Open University: "Focusing entirely on technology is the wrong way to go about this stuff… The future will be determined by how people and institutions shape these technologies."

Which other blogs do you read regularly and why?
Too many to mention.  Lots of good UK PR ones and lots of thinking US ones.  Have a look at my blogroll for a full list of must reads.

If you knew someone was thinking about starting a PR related blog what advice would you want to give them?
Think about it first.  There has been a huge slow down – I believe – in the quantity of blog posts coming from even established PR bloggers.  I think it’s partly the Facebook factor sucking everyone in and partly Twitter… but the blogosphere’s growth is definitely slowing and consolidating.  As a result I think it’s harder to enter into established networks.  Also, think about what you want to blog about.  ‘PR’ blogs in general I think won’t cut it any more – it needs to be specific.  I tend to focus on PR, technology and social change with a hint of politics/democracy from time to time.  Once you have decided what is your chosen subject and you’re happy to have something original to say that can add to the conversation go for it!  Doing all that in advance will also mean you won’t end up with a naff name for your blog, like Simonsays…

Do you think Web 2.0 is having an impact on how PR is practiced?
Absolutely… I mean you can argue it’s not really ‘Web 2.0’ and probably not ‘PR’ – but fundamentally technology and the internet are changing society and the public.  This means that anyone in the business of communicating  with the public needs to be aware of these changes and adapt accordingly.

What’s the biggest challenge in PR?
Broadly, understanding how society is changing and adapting.  More specifically: clients!

What would be your advice to someone who is looking to embark on a career in PR?
Do your research so you understand the industry and then go for it.  Don’t be afraid to take risks.  Definitely be prepared to learn from your mistakes.  Always ask the question why?  Not really PR specific advice…but, hey!

Is there a question you wish I had asked you?
That was it!

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All Change!

I’ve been a little quiet of late and now is the time to share the reason why.   Firstly, Indigo Red moved offices.  After a few teething problems with IT and phones we’re now up and running and are in swanky new offices in the heart of Watford town centre. 

Secondly, I have a new job.  Tomorrow is my last day at Indigo Red and I will be joining my new company at the end of the month – after a week of R&R and visiting parents, taking the cats to the vets and having my eyes tested!  I am going back to my recruitment beginnings and am re-joining the Taylor Bennett family to work on a new venture recruiting graduates.  Although I will be working across all industries recruiting fresh faced grads, I will still keep a hand in the PR industry so if you need AEs, give me a call.

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PR Perspective – Simon Wakeman

Simon_wakeman_5 PR Perspective this week features Simon Wakeman.  Simon is a marketing and public relations professional with a wide range of marketing, strategy and digital communications experience.  He is currently Head of Marketing and PR at Medway Council in Kent, as well as working as a freelance marketing and PR consultant.  He started his career at retailer Boots, but then soon developed a passion for the internet and using new technology for marketing and public relations.  Since then he has worked in marketing and PR for some of the UK’s leading digital companies, including the world’s first transactional interactive television services, Open (now Sky Active) and the world’s largest internet bank Egg.

Simon blogs at www.simonwakeman.com

How long have you been blogging?
I started my website way back in 2001, but didn’t really do anything useful with it until January 2006 when I started writing a couple of posts a month.  In May 2006 I relaunched the site and started blogging "properly". 

Why did you start?
Two reasons really: I was keen to expand my professional network and knowledge base, especially as working outside London and having moved into the public sector I was conscious that I needed to make a real effort to broaden my horizons beyond the sector I work in.  Having moved into public relations from marketing I wanted to brush up on my writing and editing skills.  Reading other blogs, commenting and writing my own blog has really helped me develop my writing styles.

Do you thinking blogging has helped your business?
On the freelance side I’ve definitely had more enquiries from my website, both directly from blog posts and from the improved search engine rankings that regular blogging gives the site.  I now have more freelance work than I can handle as a part-time freelancer.  I think my blogging also benefits my main employer too.  The blog conversations I have, both on my site and other blogs, really improve my PR knowledge and awareness of latest developments in the profession.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge about writing a blog?
Having enough time!  Developing an audience for your blog means writing regular posts.  Finding the time to do this alongside work and family commitments can be a challenge.

What do you want your readers to know about you?
I’d like them to know that there’s more to me than marketing and PR! On the blog I try to be strict with myself and stay on-topic – I think readers subscribe because I write about marketing and PR, not to read about my running or anything else about my personal life.  I do sometimes worry that this approach makes me seem impersonal – I’d like my readers to know I do have a life outside marketing, PR and blogging too!

Which other blogs do you read regularly and why?
Hundreds!  My feed reader is tracking around 300 RSS feeds, ranging from general news (BBC, FT, Guardian) through to specialist blogs on marketing, public relations, web development.  In the public relations area the ones I always check first are Neville Hobson, Stuart Bruce, Simon Collister and Stephen Davies – these were among the first PR blogs I subscribed to and continue to provide consistently interesting content.

If you knew someone was thinking about starting a PR related blog what advice would you give them?
Read, read and read more PR blogs.  Get to know the PR blog scene, learn the unwritten rules of the blogosphere and be very clear why you’re doing it.  Then find a niche in which you can be authoritative.  There are more and more general PR blogs, so to differentiate your blog is important if growing and audience is among your aims.

Do you think Web 2.0 is having an impact on how PR is practiced?
I think it’s probably the reputation of the profession.  Tarnished by a combination of "spin" and dubious practices from the fringes of the profession, we have a challenge to promote what public relations people actually do and to demonstrate how they add value in the private and public sectors.

What would be your advice to someone who is looking to embark on a career in PR?
I’d advise them to get as much practical experience as possible, and combine this with a decent academic qualification too (like the CIPR Diploma).  Take opportunities to broaden your skills, even if they don’t look ideal at the time.  In the nine years since I left university I’ve learnt that every job I’ve had has given me more skills, knowledge, exposure and confidence to open another door for me later on in my career.  There’s no such thing as a "traditional" career path – when I started out in marketing the internet was just emerging as a consumer tool and I’d never have anticipated the impact it would have on my professional life now.  I’m sure I’d say the same another nine years into my career – all you can do is keep up-to-date with professional skills and embrace change in your career.

Is there a question you wish I had asked you?
The question I usually get asked is "how come you’re working for a local authority in Kent?". And the answer is quite simple – three years ago I made a significant decision to stop the two and a half hour commute from sunny Whitstable into London and get a job closer to home.  I have a young family and I chose seeing them each evening over working in London.  Technology’s changing working practices so I may never need to go back to full-time commuting, although when my family is older I expect I’ll be moving back to work in London in some way when the time and the role is right!

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Arse about Face

A bit of Friday frivolity for you…

http://www.arsebook.org/

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PR Perspective – Jonny Rosemont

Jonny This week’s PR Perspective feature’s Jonny Rosemont.  In a strange twist of fate, it turns out I used to work with Jonny’s mother.  Small world.  Anyway, Jonny is a PR professional of four years. He is currently a consultant in Weber Shandwick’s dedicated web relations team, comprising digital and social media strategies for all of it’s and Golin Harris’ (Weber’s sister agency) clients. His existing and previous client portfolio includes high-profile names such as Microsoft, Gartner, BT, Toshiba and Berry Bros. & Rudd. His blog, The Rosemont Loving, offers a reflection of his opinions and interests relating to PR and beyond.

How long have you been blogging?
Since August 2004, I’m celebrating (by myself) my 3 year blogging anniversary this month.

Why did you start?
I didn’t really start for professional reasons, although one of the reasons was to improve the quality of my writing. Effectively though, I used to be one of those people who sent loads of “funny” emails to friends…you know the type of emails you get loads of on a Friday afternoon! I decided not to continue annoying people and run a site where people could ultimately opt-in to see. I think the remit of the blog continues to be the same – it’s a place where people I know can be updated on the things I care about and the opinions I have. PR is only a small bit of it; I don’t want it to be just another PR blog. I’d like to thank PR Lord of the Sith Ged Carroll (http://renaissancechambara.com) for showing me the light though, he helped me set up the first incarnation of the blog.

Do you thinking blogging has helped your business?
I’d say so…for a start it has played a big part in me getting my current job (web relations consultant at Weber Shandwick). My blog has ultimately led me to be interested in the Internet and how it is continually changing communications and how we practice PR. In my previous job at Bite Communications, my fascination of blogging and all things social media helped me play a big part in developing the company’s online services. I worked closely with James Warren, who I then followed to WS. Robin to his Batman and without the silly costumes.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge about writing a blog?
Simple: it is the challenge to keep it going and interesting. Time is obviously a constraint and when you have so many other responsibilities, blogging is often neglected. I try to post at least three or four times a week, even if it’s just highlighting the links to stories that I’ve taken an interest in. Having been an active blogger for three years though, I know it’s all about peaks and troughs – so you’ll probably see a ramp up in activity in the near future.

In the last few months I’ve also seen a great number of PR professionals entering the blogosphere. The challenge remains the same – i.e. keeping blogs fresh with decent content – but it is also a great opportunity for the PR industry to really drive forward thought leadership, which can only be a good thing. There might be an argument to create some kind of industry body, but someone less busy than me can organise that!

What do you want your readers to know about you?
They probably already know too much about me already! New readers will probably come to learn fairly quickly that I’m pretty opinionated and politically incorrect. I think that’s partly why I’ve managed to build up a wee, but dedicated following. Ultimately though, to be a successful PR or marketing person, I think you need to have interests outside of work and my blog is a great reflection of mine. I’m always free to meet for a beer with any like-minded folk.

Which other blogs do you read regularly and why?
You’ll probably see that my blogroll is pretty extensive…I often find it is the bane of my life when reading. That said, I really do feel that most of the best thought-provoking stuff is in blogs; that’s why I’m so committed to the cause. Some of my PR blog must-reads are Colin Byrne, Steve Rubel, David Brain and TWL. I really could go on, there are absolutely loads worth mentioning. It is, however, in my “contract” to read Mr Warren’s (http://jameswarren.wordpress.com), so I really have to give a shout out to him 😉 Oh and watch this space for something from us in the near future…

If you knew someone was thinking about starting a PR related blog what advice would you want to give them?
Go ahead! If it improves your learning about PR, marketing, the media etc. then it can only be a good thing for your own career progression and the industry as a whole. Read others, get engaged in the wider debate and enjoy it. There are loads of blogs that are already out there but that doesn’t matter – ideas and thinking can come from many a source. Personally I’d like to see a rise in collaborative blogging, which I’m sure we will.

Do you think Web 2.0 is having an impact on how PR is practiced?
I hope so – otherwise I’ll be out of a job! Personally I’m of the opinion that the PR industry will be dead if it doesn’t engrain itself in Web 2.0 and beyond. The simple fact is that Generation Y and others are consuming more information on the web than any other media, so it is our job to make sure our clients are there, entering discussions and having direct contact with their customers. There is so much we can do, and clients/agencies should be embracing it with open arms. That said, in my opinion, there are still way too many sceptics. I really feel we are at the tipping point right now, so the industry has to decide which way it should go. It really doesn’t get anymore fascinating.

What’s the biggest challenge in PR?
Getting decent talent in is a problem for the industry; effectively you really have to be adamant and committed to be successful in PR because the wages at a junior level are, frankly, outrageous. London is a pricey city after years of university debt, and it’s even harder work once you’ve embarked on your PR career.

The other big challenge is the ongoing focus on media coverage. PR is not all about getting media exposure; ultimately, it is about improving and maintaining  perceptions about any given company and improving their bottom line.  This objective is often lost in the battle to justify marketing spend and the biggest barrier we are having is getting clients to commit to social media activity and view this as a vital way to engage influencers and consumers.

What would be your advice to someone who is looking to embark on a career in PR?
PR is all about developing decent relationships, being creative, understanding the media and working bloody hard. If you are a personable individual who is always up for a bit of a challenge then PR is certainly a good career option for you. Not many other industries give you an opportunity to really affect corporate strategy from day one – not even in the city. So, how can it not be appealing?!

Is there a question you wish I had asked you?
Enough about me, let’s talk about you.

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PR Perspective – The World’s Leading

Twl_3 This week’s PR perspective comes from The World’s Leading.  I’d like to write a bit of a biography on TWL, but as they’re anonymous that makes it rather tricky.  I’ll just say that it’s a blog focused on tech PR.  It’s funny, irreverent and sometimes close to the bone.  It’s also recently moved to a swanky new pad, and can now be found at http://www.theworldsleading.net/

How long have you been blogging?

Since May 20th 2006.


Why did you start?

After drinking rather too much beer, I thought it might be fun to prick some of the pomposity that too often, sadly, permeates the PR industry.  Sober, it still seemed like a decent idea.  I considered all sorts of publishing media.  Perhaps a poster on the Cromwell Road?  How about little round advertisements at the bottom of pint glasses?  My favourite was a large banner towed behind a small single-engined aircraft, but this turned out to be unfeasible on almost every level.  So a blog it was.

Do you thinking blogging has helped your business?

Business?  What business?  The thing about…the world’s leading…is that (as is often pointed out and indeed criticised) it’s anonymous.  There isn’t a promotional agenda, there’s no ego massaging going on (or at least, only when I massage it myself).  Who knows?  We might earn a little bit of pocket money out of it one day, but that’s not the raison d’etre.  It certainly hasn’t had any great impact on my professional life.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge about writing a blog?

Time, inevitably, and also interesting content.  It’s all about the content, really.  As soon as that dries up, we’re buggered.  Happily, however, the PR industry seems to be a rich hunting ground for the ridiculous.  It’s an orchard full of story trees with particularly low-hanging branches.

What do you want your readers to know about you?

A few want to know who TWL is.  A few do know who I am and, frankly, it’s a road to disappointment.  Other than that, I don’t think they’re very bothered!

Which other blogs do you read regularly and why?

Oh, crikey.  I tend to scan a lot of headlines but seem to do less and less actually reading!  A few of the PR ones, obviously.  I’m enjoying The Friendly GhostByrne’s is nicely put together (and he doesn’t blather on about social media stuff like most of the others do…).  I’d like Paul (notes to editors…) to write more as I’ve met him and he’s a really funny bloke.  It’s always nice to dip into a bit of ranting on Charles Arthur’s blog and I read…the world’s leading…too, of course!  I don’t write all the stuff (am I giving away a secret there..?) and a lot that doesn’t come from me is bloody funny!  I can see why people like it.

If you knew someone was thinking about starting a PR related blog what advice would you want to give them?

Set expectations about how often you’re likely to blog.  So many start off like their pants are on fire and then become less and less frequent.  Only post when you’ve got something genuinely interesting or entertaining to say.  Blog about PR.  Don’t start blogging about the latest social media widget…Mayfield’s better at that than you are.

Do you think Web 2.0 is having an impact on how PR is practiced?

Yeah – it’s distracting everyone, clients and agencies alike.  Most normal people (i.e. most client ‘audiences’) still read papers and magazines, watch TV, listen to the radio…talk to their friends.  So most PR should target these channels.  It’s changing, but not as fast as we all think.

What’s the biggest challenge in PR?

Continuing to find it a rewarding career year after year after year.  And then finding something else to do when you get the 35, realise you’re far too old to be working in a PR agency and the thought of moving in-house makes you want to leap off a tall building.

What would be your advice to someone who is looking to embark on a career in PR?

Be prepared to work your nuts off.  Be honest.  Have a plan and stick to it.  Think about a life beyond PR.  Don’t moan. When it stops being fun for more than a week or two, change jobs or careers.  Live beyond your means for a few years.  Have a lot of sex…you’ll regret more of the sex you didn’t have than the sex you did.

Is there a question you wish I had asked you?

Yes.  I wish you asked me to take receipt of US$40,000,000 into my personal bank account that you need to urgently get out of a West African country on the premise that by helping you out, I’d get to keep 10% of it.

And meant it.

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