What skills do you need to run a PR internship?

2012 is turning out to be quite a year.  Not only will the Taylor Bennett Foundation be running four PR internships, and increasing the intake from six graduates on each programme to eight but also, rather inconveniently, I am having a baby.

It was a planned pregnancy.  Well, planned in that we have been trying to conceive for nearly five years with no luck, but I never really had expected it to happen and so in terms of when the baby is due to make an appearance, it was not diarised.

For anyone who knows me well, you will realise that this has caused me endless sleepless nights.  My role at the Foundation is completely unique.  I have never met anyone who does my job elsewhere and so I take great pains to make sure I am not away on holiday when the internships are running so that someone else doesn’t have to take on tasks they never imagined they’d have to.  I never imagined, therefore, that I would be taking four months maternity leave in the middle of the year and leaving my precious interns in the hands of someone new.

The baby has been warned that it must appear on its due date of May 5th as to be early would be disastrous and to be late will mean mummy will be cross.  My friends have scoffed at the idea of a child who follows my spreadsheet but it will have to learn pretty quickly I tell you.

The question of who will manage the internship programmes while I am away is still up in the air.  We’ve had a few ideas but the decision of who takes over is down to the Foundation’s trustees so I have my fingers crossed they will go with my first choice.

Whoever it is will have to take on a bewildering array of tasks.  I have been running these programmes for two years now and I had never quite grasped the variety of things I do on a day to day basis.  To ease the cover person into the role, I have started compiling a “Guide to Running the Taylor Bennett Foundation Internships”.  It is twenty pages so far and I’m only up to what to do to recruit the interns and how to settle them in on their first week.

I am very lucky in that I love my role.  It is challenging, interesting and can be very rewarding, but it demands of me some unusual skills.

So, for those of you who fancy running such a scheme here are just some of the more random things you’ll be tasked with:

–          Make sure the interns understand how to change a toilet roll (no one likes going into the loo to find that the last roll has been used and not replaced)

–          Ensure you’re up to date with popular culture so as not to seem a million years old (I am 37 so to the average 22 year old I am ancient) and, if running an internship focussed on fashion PR, be clear in your understanding that Paul’s Boutique bags are chavvy and Mulberry are not

–          Be clear when giving instructions.  Graduates are used to pages of academic instructions with little room for interpretation.  If your directions aren’t clear, they’ll go off piste

–          When giving them career advice think about it from their mum’s point of view.  If it’s not advice you’d give your own child, it’s bad advice

–          Bring them cake.  Homemade is best, but if you’re six month’s pregnant and can’t be arsed to bake then Krispy Kremes also go down well

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Taylor Bennett Foundation – Diversity Internship Schemes 2012

In 2012 the Taylor Bennett Foundation (for which I am the Course Director) is running four more paid PR internship and training schemes designed to address the lack of black and ethnic minorities in the PR industry.

Application deadline for the Jan – Mar scheme run with Talk PR is midday on  19th December so get applying!

For more details go to our website www.taylorbennettfoundation.org

 

Click on the image below to read our recruitment advert.

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TV Shows Featuring PR

Had enough of PRing for one day?  Want to watch other people pretending to be PRs?  Here’s a handy list of TV shows featuring public relations:

Absolutely Fabulous

The West Wing

The Spin Crowd

Spin City

Sex and the City

Absolute Power

Twenty Twelve

The Thick of It

 

Thanks to the following people for helping to compile this list:

@chrisunlimited @willardfoxton @neilcomm

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Ten Golden Interview Rules

  1. Turn up. If you can’t go to the interview for any reason, call the interviewer to apologise and explain so that they can give your slot to someone else.
  2. Be on time. Not 30 minutes early, not five minutes late. ON TIME. If you are unsure where you are meant to be going, do a trial run a few days before. If you get there very early on the day, go to a coffee shop and hang around until it is time for the interview. If you turn up early, the interviewer will feel under pressure to interview you then, when they may have other things to do. If you are late, you are wasting their time. Being late says “my time is more important than yours”. Not a great start.
  3. Dress smartly. If you don’t have a suit, buy one or borrow one. Polish your shoes. Have brushed hair and pay attention to your personal hygiene.
  4. Take a copy of your CV, along with anything else you have been asked to take – a portfolio of work for example.
  5. Do your research. Make sure you know what the company does. Find out as much as you can about the person interviewing you too.
  6. Read the job spec (assuming you have one) and the job advert, carefully. These will give you an idea of the questions you will be asked. If the job spec says that one of the requirements of this job is “a good eye for detail” they may ask you to give an example of when you have demonstrated that skill.
  7. Practise your handshake. A wet fish in your hand is not nice. Likewise, don’t try and crush your interviewer’s hand. Firm, but not bone-breaking, is best.
  8. Be interested. Don’t stare out of the window when they are talking to you, or pick your nose, or stare at your shoes.
  9. Be prepared to ask questions. At the end of the interview you will probably be asked if you have any questions. They may have already covered everything you need to know, but it’s best to have something to ask. Good questions include asking about their training opportunities, what the next stage in the interview process is likely to be, or when you are likely to hear from them.
  10. Remember that an interview is a two-way process. It is your opportunity to decide if you want to work for the company, just as much as it is their opportunity to find out if they would like to hire you.

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Ten tips for job hunters

Whether you’re a recent graduate looking for your first break into PR, or a seasoned professional wanting to make your next move, job hunting can be a total drag.  Here’s ten tips for finding your next role.

1)      Set yourself a specific time for job applications.  If you’re out of work, then treat it like a 9 – 5 job.  Get up, make a cup of coffee, turn on your computer and start hunting.  Resist the urge to turn on the telly – Jezza Kyle is far too tempting.  Take a break for lunch and then get back to it until the end of the working day.  If you’re already in a job then set aside an hour every evening.

2)      Do your homework.  Before you apply make sure you understand the role and the company you are applying to.  Reflect your research in your covering letter and make sure each application is specific to that particular company.  Standard covering letters go in the bin.  If you are applying through a recruitment agency this is a little more difficult, but try to make your application as relevant to the role as possible.

3)      Keep a record.  A recent graduate once told me that he’d worked out it was taking him, on average, 33 applications to achieve one interview for a PR role.  That’s a hell of a lot of applications but it is not surprising.  Competition for roles, particularly at entry level, is fierce.  I generally advise graduates to aim for twenty five applications per week, and those people who are already in jobs to aim for one application a day.  With that amount of correspondence you need to keep a record of who you have written to, which position you were applying for, whether you had a response and any other info that might be useful – like a copy of the job advert or role specification so you can refer to it if you’re called for an interview.  Admin is tedious, but it will make your life easier in the long run.

4)      Be persistent. 90% of the companies you apply to won’t even acknowledge receipt of your application let alone give you feedback if you’re rejected.  Don’t take it personally.  Replying to job applicants takes a huge amount of time and administration and for some firms it’s really low on their list of priorities.  As a rule of thumb, if you haven’t heard back from a company in two weeks, you are unlikely to be called to interview.  Don’t give up though.  It may mean you’re not right for that role, but other positions make crop up that are more suitable so keep applying.

5)       Apply speculatively.  If you apply for a specific job you are competing against all the other people applying for that role.  If you write to a company speculatively here is less chance that you will be competing against others and that your letter will stand out.  Make it clear what you are available for – full time, part time, temporary, permanent, contract, internships etc.  Ask them to keep your details on file for any suitable vacancies and if you haven’t heard back from them in three months, write again.

6)      Network endlessly.  Use social network sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ to follow influential PRs and get yourself noticed.  Go along to Tweet Ups, conferences and social events – lots of which are free to attend.   Make a point of collecting business cards and connecting with the people you have met after the event.

7)      Be realistic.  If you’ve got two years of experience and are currently paid £25,000 a year, don’t apply for Director level roles paying £100,000.  You’ll be wasting your time and that of the recruiter.

8)      Dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s.  Attention to detail is incredibly important when applying for jobs.  Make sure you address your application to the right person, and spell their name correctly.  Don’t just rely on spell check to pick up errors.  Proof read your CV and covering letters several times before you press send, and make sure you attach the relevant documents to your email.  Good writing and proof reading skills are required for most PR roles so it’s essential you can prove you have mastered the basics.

9)      Pay it forward.  If you spot a vacancy that would be great for a job hunting friend or acquaintance send them the link to the advert.   Hopefully, they will return the favour.

10)   Say thank you.  If you get a personal response to your application – even if it is a rejection – write and say thank you.  If you get an interview – even if you don’t get the job – write and say thank you.  If someone introduces you to a contact who then offers you an interview, write and thank the referrer.  Such a simple courtesy will make you stick in their minds and will make them more likely to recommend you again in the future.  Thank you letters and emails are rarer than you might imagine and are a really easy way to build your reputation as a thoughtful and friendly person to work with.

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How to get a pay rise

 

 

 

 

 

Nobody likes asking for a pay rise.  We hope that our efforts will be recognised and rewarded accordingly, but sadly that’s not always what happens.  Managers may be busy focussing on budgets and targets and sometimes it takes for you to stand up and ask, instead of waiting for extra cash to appear in your pay packet.

 

Factors to consider before you ask for a raise include:

–          Market information.  Consult a specialist recruiter in your field and find out what the market norms are for you position.    Keep the whole package in mind.  You may find that you are paid at the lower end of the scale for your position in the market, but that you have a fabulous pension scheme or car allowance which compensates.

–          Pay scales. Find out if there are restrictions in terms of pay scale.  You may find that you are already at the top of that scale and your manager is restricted as to how much they can pay you, in which case you need to find out what you would have to do to achieve a promotion and go up to the next grade.

–          Your cash value.  Work out how much money you have saved/earned the company in the last 12 months and ask for an increase based on your cash value to the company.

–          The management’s point of view.  See it from the other side.  How valuable are you as an employee?  How easy would you be to replace?  What precedents would it set for other employees?

 
How to approach the subject of a pay rise with your manager:

–          Find out when the next salary reviews are due.  If it’s in the next few weeks you may be better off waiting until they occur and then making your case.  If it’s not for another six months then request a discussion with your manager.

–          Ask for a face-to-face meeting.  An email or letter will not suffice.  You need to discuss the issue rationally, calmly and give both your manager and yourself the opportunity to ask questions.

–          Take with you to the meeting a list of achievements and reasons why you deserve a pay rise.

–          Also take with you evidence of your market worth.  Take along testimonials from recruiters and salary surveys stating what your skills would be worth elsewhere.

 

What to do if your pay rise request is declined:

–          It may be that your manager is restricted by current budgets.  Ask when the next pay reviews will be and ask if you specifically will be considered for an increase in salary.

–          Negotiate other benefits.  There may be no more money in the salary pot, but you may be able to negotiate a higher contribution to your pension, flexible working hours, or extra training opportunities.

–          Ask for extra work and responsibility, and have achievements linked to an increase in pay.

 

It may be tempting to threaten to resign in the hope that your employer will try to keep you with the offer of a higher salary.  This is a dangerous game to play (particularly if you don’t have an offer of a job elsewhere!)   Remember that you are in your career for the long haul and you want to burn as few bridges as possible.  If you give your employer every opportunity to help you increase your salary and there is still no possibility of a raise or increased benefits, then perhaps it’s time to start looking around for a new position elsewhere.

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Who should you be following?

Followtwitter

If you work in PR and you’re on Twitter, there’s a good chance that the people you follow are a mixture of colleagues, acquaintances and recommendations. How do you go about finding the really influential players in the industry, and which are the accounts with the most interesting tweets?  Here’s our short guide to who’s who.

PR People: This Peer Index list compiled by Andrew Bruce Smith is a good place to start.  Based on the PR Week Social Media Power Players list, originally published in February 2011, it is a comprehensive guide to those PR folk with a strong social media presence. Another list from Andrew is those listed in the PR Week Power Book.

Agencies:  Jon Priestly has listed the top UK PR agencies

Journalists: Stephen Davies has a great list of over 300 journalists which is worth checking out.

Jobs: For jobs in PR there are a number of Twitter accounts worth following including @UnicornJobs@PRJobsLondon, @vox-popPRcareers and @UKYoungPR.

Industry news: To catch up on the latest PR news @therealprmoment, @communicatemag, @Gorkana, @PRWeekUKNews, @Holmesreport, @esPResso_prnews and the PR Daily. 

Industry bodies: @CIPR, @PRCA_UK and for industry news on cultural diversity @Ignite_UKPR.

And of course, you should all follow me

 

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