Tag Archives: mentoring

UnAwards 2016 – what next?

A couple of weeks ago I went to Birmingham for the first time ever to attend the Comms2Point0 UnAwards 2016.

UnAwards are not like the usual glitzy Grosvenor House affairs.  This was much more casual – held in a cinema with sweets to watch a movie with. It was a pretty full house and it was really clear to see that the comms industry is thriving with some really interesting and innovative campaigns being show cased.

To top it all off, I won the 2016 award for diversity, sponsored by the NUJ. Continue reading

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Filed under Diversity, Personal, PR

What is the point of mentoring?

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Mentoring is a hot topic at the moment.  Everyone is banging on about it, but what is it, and why should you be looking for a mentor?

Having a good mentor can be a real boost for your career.  Someone with plenty of experience and knowledge to share can be a great sounding board when you have a work-based issue, and a guiding hand when you need a second opinion on the direction of your career.  They may also have access to a network of people it would take you years to get to know so they will be able to open doors for you that previously would have been closed.

If you can join an established mentoring scheme that’s great, but there’s no reason why you can’t find a mentor independently.   Preferably, someone you don’t currently work with as you’ll need to be able to discuss work issues without worrying about upsetting the apple cart.  Perhaps an ex-colleague or boss you have admired, or approach someone in the industry you have seen speak at an event, or have read their blog and like what they say – they may say no, but they will be flattered to be asked and you never know, they might agree to it.

Have a think about what you want to get out of the mentoring relationship.  Do you need help writing a decent CV and covering letter to get a job?  Do you want someone to help you write a structured career plan, and help you achieve certain goals?  Or do you need something a bit less formal and just an ear to chew on now and then?  Make sure you establish both yours and your mentor’s expectations right from the start.  It is also useful to set a time limit on the relationship – do you expect to be mentored for the entire length of your career by this person, or are you looking for someone to help you through, say, the next five years?

The onus should be on you to keep in touch with your mentor and make it easy for them to spend some time with you.  Don’t expect them to chase you if they haven’t heard from you – they are doing you a favour by giving you their time so make sure you respect that.

The mentor should find mentoring you a rewarding experience and so it’s important that you update them regularly on your progress and be suitably thankful when they give you advice.

If you get the mentoring relationship right, it can be a fantastic way to get an experienced point of view and may make you think differently about how you can achieve your career goals.

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Filed under Careers

Why be a PR mentor?

Mentor

Since 2008, Taylor Bennett has set out to address the lack of ethnic diversity in the PR industry with an innovative PR training and internship programme.  For ten weeks, six black and minority ethnic graduates are given intensive PR training, work-based experience  and career guidance.  They also get to meet industry professionals from a range of in-house, agency and media organisations.  It is a fabulous scheme and in 2010 it won the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Award for Social Inclusion , which we are very proud of.   Previous participants have already started successful careers in communications in firms which include Edelman, Brunswick, Cantos, Racepoint Group, MS&L, Freud, Talk PR, London Thames Gateway, Macbeth Media Relations and the Olympic Legacy Company.  The success of the scheme means that by the end of 2011, nearly 50 graduates will have passed through the programme and that leaves us with a dilemma.

Until now, we have offered each of the interns personal career guidance, not only while they’re on the programme, but as they enter their careers and beyond.  However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do this.  We are a small organisation and while I adore all our interns, there are not enough hours in the day for me to run the programme, and to continue to support them regularly once they leave us.   So, we are appealing to the PR community to step forward and act as mentors to these graduates – not only as they embark on their first PR roles, but throughout the lifetime of their careers.

Several PR practitioners have already put their hands up for this opportunity.  We try to partner the mentors with grads we think will get the most out of their advice, and then ask that they try to meet up once a month for coffee to discuss their career aspirations.  The rest of the time they are available by phone and email to answer questions and offer advice.  We hope therefore that it is not too time-intensive, but that it gives the grads someone to turn to when they have a career question or issue.

Mentoring can be very rewarding.  It gives you the opportunity to see a mentee progress and grow as a person.  It also allows you to develop your management and training skills.  Which gives you the chance to self-reflect – making sure that you regularly audit your own skills and professional development. It should also enrich your working experience.  By keeping tabs on what junior people in the industry are up to, it enables you to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s new and should enhance your professional image.

For the mentees, it helps them to develop those all important networking skills and to gain a different perspective on how the profession works.  It should give them confidence to speak to people more senior than them, teach them how to work towards goals, and give them experience of handling constructive criticism.  In turn we hope that this will fire up their enthusiasm for the industry and inspire them to apply for jobs, and then develop their communications careers.

Our current mentors are:

Lisa Quinn, Taylor Bennett
Lily Lazarevski, Cut Communications
Nicky Rudd, Padua Communications
Nina Arnott, McDonalds
Sharon Chan, Consolidated PR
Magda Bulska, CHA
Howard Jones, CC Group
Chris McCafferty, Kaper PR

 

We are currently on the hunt for seven more mentors.  Ideally you will have experience in the following sectors, but we are very open to anyone who has an interest in volunteering. 

Fashion/beauty
Financial PR
Consumer
Digital
Charity
Professional services (particularly law)

You don’t need to be particularly senior, although you’re very welcome if you are, but ideally should have some experience of managing junior members of staff.

If you would like to volunteer as a mentor, please email sarah@taylorbennettfoundation.org

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Filed under Careers, Graduates, PR