Getting into PR – Work Experience

With the end of uni approaching for another class of students, it is inevitable that a mass of soon-to-be graduates are fretfully considering their next moves. Some will know exactly what they want to do, whilst the majority will be as unsure of anything as the day they were born.

Likewise, this time last year, I was in that boat. With so much choice (and yet seemingly so little opportunity), how do you go about getting a job? For starters, my advice would be to go and get some work experience. Not only does this unlock doors by allowing you to develop valuable contacts, it is also exactly the thing required to learn if a job in your sector of choice is really for you.

Before I graduated, I took comfort from the front cover of a Prospects careers magazine on ‘Work Experience’, which had on it an underwear-clad boy and girl student that you could ‘dress’ in cut-out tabbed uniforms.

The cover reminded me that, though the prospect of entering an alien professional workplace can be daunting and put you off trying, if the experience is viewed as an opportunity to try the career on for size (as this cover suggests), then you will undoubtedly gain something from it, irrespective of whether you decide it’s for you or not.

Besides, work experience and networking are proven to help students’ chances of gaining a foot in the door (or on the ladder – whichever you’d prefer). It’s how I got my job, and it’s how most people I know have moved or gained jobs too.

Don’t worry, you will not be expected to know the ins and outs of your sector (though a little desk research would help to impress!). The experience is an opportunity for you to listen, learn, contribute and ask questions, and at the end of the day it will all make your CV look sexy.

So, my advice to you is – put your fears aside, and try that career on for size! Good luck grads!

For more advice on getting into PR, please see my previous posts:

Any comments to add to this advice appreciated below. Just click ‘Leave a comment.’ Thanks for your time!
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Viral Spoofs – Old Spice, The Sun and Sesame Street

We all know that virals create publicity for brands, but it is increasingly apparent that spoofs of virals also generate (or effectively steal) high levels of traffic from the original. As a result, it is no surprise that a number of brands have recently hijacked the success of virals like Old Spice – ‘the man your man could smell like’.

You may remember my post on Old Spice on the theme of Integrated Marketing. If not, you can view the video here:

Posted in February of this year (2010), the video has received a whopping 23,243,048 views on YouTube, and accompanying videos (there a lot of them!) have also received huge levels of traffic. In a well-coordinated swoop, Old Spice certainly achieved the status of internet sensation, resulting (most importantly) in the rapid increase of real-life sales.

Launching off the back of the success of Old Spice, The Sun and Sesame Street (to name but a few), have since created their own videos, mimicing the style of the Old Spice ad (‘the ad your ad could be like’), to generate mass publicity for their own causes.

The Sun:

Utilising humour (which is probably the key to success here), The Sun turned the Old Spice ad on its head to portray ‘the woman you’d love your woman to be like’, to celebrate 40 years of Page 3 within the newspaper:

Posted just three days ago, the video has already received over a million views (1,230,149 to be precise), no doubt largely helped by model Rosie.

Sesame Street:

Posted in Febuary of this year (2010), Sesame Street also created a successful viral spoof – ‘smell like a monster’. In this video a monster attemps the same smooth delivery of lines as Isaiah Mustafa, but fails in typical muppet styley – becoming a caricature of the Old Spice hero. The video has received an impressive 5,740,354 views.

Though these two videos have been successful as spoofs, fans of a viral video are unlikely to be impressed by spoofs that do not match the original humour or video quality, so spoofing is not the answer for all brands.

These two examples do show however that spoofing can be an easy (if cheeky) way of gaining internet views, without having to create a concept from scratch. A spoof also effectively speaks to the fans of the original video, allowing it to reach out to an already established and active audience.

Easy pickings?

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AVIVA Campaign – Life Affirming Life Insurance

A month ago I had no idea what Aviva was or what they did – they were just a name I had vaguely heard of, with a very small voice. But, Aviva’s latest global campaign is definitely screaming to be heard, and I for one have finally listened.

My relationship with Aviva began when, one day, upon entering Euston Station, I observed that the walls had turned a vibrant yellow. Strange, I thought – someone must be advertising something. Then on Day two, as I wandered down the South Bank, I stumbled across strange yellow cubes sporting unfamiliar smiling faces. It’s official, I thought, something is definitely going on…

But it was on Day three that I finally found out the hidden glories of this campaign. Following a link that was sent to me, I found the yellow online hub of youarethebiggerpicture.com, Aviva’s supporting microsite, and all the yellow cubey smileyness became clear!

On the homepage I was greeted with an image of London showing yellow photo boards on the sides of buildings and monuments around the city (that explains the yellow photo boards, I thought). I was invited to upload my photo to the site, which I was told would result in a £1 donation to charity. May as well, I thought.

I also learnt that, if I donated my photo, there was a chance that it could be picked to be projected onto the side of a building in London or elsewhere in the world for all to see! Pretty cool – continue.

After uploading my photo, and tweaking the size settings etc. (easy peasy), I submitted my picture. Expecting my job to be done, I was then surprised to receive a little extra with the generic ‘thank you’ message.

Clicking on the link, I was completely flabbergasted to see myself (my uploaded photo) starring in the Aviva television advert (also seen subliminally earlier in the week). In the advert, a giant picture portrait is constructed on the side of a building, and in this film, it is my picture that they are constructing and showcasing to London. Somehow, despite being ‘pretend’, it made me feel a little famous.

With handily placed ‘Share’, ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’ links on standby, I then shared this spectacular film with all of my friends and family, inadvertently promoting Aviva to anyone who would listen! But that was not all. A few weeks later, I received another email from Aviva informing me that my photo had been selected to be projected onto the National Theatre in London.

I was invited to attend the live screening, or alternatively, I was given the option to watch it live via webcam! As it happened, I was not available for either, so I was even more surprised when I was then able to rewind the webcam to find my live ‘moment’, as captured below:

Words cannot really explain my awe of this campaign, nor praise it enough. It is certainly the most exciting, extensive and involving campaign that I have witnessed this year. It is safe to say that my love affair with Aviva (as a brand I grant you, rather than a service) has begun.

A wise bird once told me that, for a campaign to be successful, digital, real world and print aspects must combine to create ‘integrated marketing’ – a campaign that works across all platforms to gain the most exposure and allow the most interaction. Aviva certainly does this. For more information on Aviva and the services they offer, visit www.aviva.com.

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Guest Post on Behind The Spin

Many of you reading this blog will know of Behind the Spin – the magazine for public relations students and young practioners which is supported by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). A couple of weeks ago I was kindly invited to write a guest post on Blogger Relations for October’s theme on Social Media. The post is entitled:

From Joe Bloggs to Über Blogger: The Blogger Evolution

Exerpt: In the beginning, it is perhaps true to say that blogs started out as no more than geek to geek or as self-indulgent diaries. In recent times however, with influence from the US where ‘mommy’ blogs are treated with elevated respect, British bloggers are making a new name for themselves.

Read the full post here.
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Royal British Legion Revival – Poppy Appeal 2010

Despite being a well-known charity with a well-respected two-minute silence every November, I was pleased to see the Royal British Legion revive their Poppy Appeal this year with a few new tricks to effectively extend their reach to a younger, more socially active audience.

Along with collaboration with popular girl-band The Saturdays, who this year launched the campaign with a one-off concert for troops and family and friends of soldiers serving in Afghanistan, this year the Royal British Legion have additionally sought to actively create influence over online communities.

Twibbon.com:

Using a Twitter profile (@PoppyLegion), ‘Poppy’ encourages users to retweet a news update explaining how to support the cause with a customised avatar on Twitter.

Using Twibbon.com, Twitter and Facebook users can customise their profile pictures to incorporate the famous poppy symbol on their avatars, effectively pinning a badge to their online identities, as well as their clothes. The results, as I explored, are as follows:

Facebook:

Twitter:

After a few simple clicks, I was able to attach the poppy badge to my profile picture on Facebook and Twitter. Though no proceeds go to charity with the pinning of this badge, the tool nevertheless helps drive awareness.

Considering the short amount of time that it took, I would urge everyone to pin a poppy to their Facebook or Twitter lapel this year to help raise awareness of this deserving cause! Wear your poppy with pride, both online and offline! 

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Interflora’s Twitter Campaign: Saying it with Flowers!

Interflora recently launched an innovative Twitter campaign designed to strengthen the brand’s relationship with online communities and consumers. Monitoring daily tweets, @InterfloraUK actively sought users who appeared glum.

They then sent them a message to acquire their address, and once received, delivered a complimentary bouquet of flowers to cheer them up!

Adam Hart, online marketing manager at Interflora, said: “At Interflora we are focused on exceeding people’s expectations and delivering a personal, trusted service that will brighten up their day.”

Simon Collister added: “Interflora understands that to operate successfully in social media, you need to listen to people’s needs and respond in a human, empathetic way.”

I really like this campaign and it certainly has a Good Samaritan vibe. Needless to say, my tweets became much gloomier after learning of this one – apologies followers!

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Pink Lady ‘Kiss it Better’ Campaign

Earlier this year, in the run-up to Valentine’s Day, Pink Lady launched an innovative campaign in association with Great Ormond Street Hospital, designed to raise the brand’s profile to an ABC1 audience.

In accordance with the brand’s ‘Grown with Love’ equity, Pink Lady grew two thousand one-off apples with love-heart stickers on so that, after 200 days, when ripe, the stickers were removed to reveal a perfect green heart imprinted on the pink blush peel!

Teaming up exclusively with Harrods, Pink Lady offered consumers the chance to buy these limited edition heart-imprinted apples for £3, with all proceeds going to charity.

The campaign succeeded in creating awareness, raising charitable funds, and enhancing the brand’s premium status. Instead of saying ‘I Love You’ with a kiss on Valentine’s Day, for one year only, Londoners could show their love with a specially grown apple from Pink Lady.

My only complaint is that I did not receive one!

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Whatever Next?

Literally every day now, new technologies are developed which revolutionise the way we interact, learn and engage with others and with companies. One day Twitter, the next day the iPad, and today – Google integrates YouTube on the homepage.

To celebrate John Lennon’s 70th birthday, Google have created their first ever animated video doodle which is quite literally, all singing, all doodling (forgive the pun).

As soon as I saw it, I loved it, and it is surely the start of bigger and bolder things for Google, with the potential for further quirky partnerships.

In my lifetime, Google has been born, has grown , and is now singing and dancing. And, just like any proud parent, I now ask myself – what comes next?

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#PRStudents: Four Social Networks and How to Use Them

If you are a student looking to get into PR then you are probably already aware of a number of social networks that are popular with Marketing and Social Media agencies. Though the names of them might be familiar to you, in this blog post I aim to show how you can use the main social network giants – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogs, tactically to increase employability and accelerate career progression.

Twitter is an easy way to connect with people who you might not ordinarily be able to contact or follow. When I started out on Twitter (a pre-graduate job-seeker), I followed a number of Marketing, PR and Brand gurus for insights into the industry. I also followed PR companies I was interested in; many firms now post links to their most recent campaigns or blog posts on Twitter, or at the very least have an active HR tweeter. Twitter therefore provides an opportunity to swat up for an interview or to make initial contact.

Now that I’ve got my job in PR, I follow a number of magazines and bloggers to stay in touch with the world of media and the wider blogosphere. As media and blogger relations is an important part of the job, following and talking to these writers and bloggers is a good way of building relationships, which can benefit both traditional and digital campaigns later down the line.

Over time, and the more you tweet to people in a conversational way, the more of a community you will build around yourself, which as well as being fun, is also key to being an influencer yourself one day.

My Tips:

  • Personalise it (the background of my Twitter profile is from a photo that I took – you won’t find it on anyone else’s Twitter background, though I appreciate that it is a bit girly for some!)
  • Tweet responsibly – remember that all tweets can be traced back to you and seen by anybody
  • Connect with people – don’t just write ‘I’m doing this’ statuses. Who cares? Have a convo!

As you probably know, Facebook is a hugely popular social network with more than 500 million active users. Though it is used by PROs in digital campaigns, what I will focus on here is how to use Facebook in order to best PR yourself.

When applying for jobs, it is now inevitable that HR will type your name into Google to take a peek at your social networking sites, in order to gain an insight into your real personality. With this in mind, it is important to check your Facebook privacy settings; if you don’t want a prospective employer to see what is written on your wall or what pictures lurk in your photo album, then make sure your settings are private so only friends can view them.

Additionally, remember that you can use Facebook to showcase yourself to a potential employer. Though only friends can view my wall and photos, I allow unknown contacts to view my work, education and contact information, so that my public ‘for strangers’ page performs a bit like a CV.

 

 LinkedIn is like the business equivalent of Facebook. It is a site where professionals can network with colleagues, potential and past employers, and can be a useful tool for job-seekers. The profile page that you create acts as an online CV, detailing your experience, your education and your goals. In addition, past colleagues can recommend you to future employers – in fact, some businesses offer bonuses to those who recommend someone from within their network.

I created my LinkedIn profile whilst job-hunting in January and ‘connected’ with people I met on work experience or placements, leaving personalised messages to say ‘hello’, and thanking them for the opportunity. It was through this contact that I was able to gain an internship at Cohn & Wolfe, so it really does work!

My LinkedIn page also acts as a bit of a hub, providing links to my other social networks such as Twitter and my blog.

I first created my blog, ‘Shelley George PResents…’ when job-hunting at University. Much of the advice to aspiring PR professionals talked of the importance of optimum online presence, and stated that a blog was a good way of influencing others, making yourself known, and showcasing knowledge and writing skills.

I use WordPress.com for my blog but another good site is Blogger.com. It is really up to you what you blog about, but remember that the content can be seen by anyone, and at any time can come back to haunt you. I started off just writing about PR, but as time has gone on, I’ve brought a bit more of my own personality to the table, blogging about topical things that I like in general as well.

To round things up…

That brings me to the end of this post. Though I’ve tried to be quite thorough, I know that I have barely scratched the surface on this topic. There are a number of other social networking channels that are hugely popular too, such as FourSquare, Flickr and YouTube – all of which can be used pre and post job hunting to aid communications strategies and Personal SEO.

I hope you have found this useful. If you have any questions, or anything to add, please pop it in the comment box below! I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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