Why I got into PR
Like many at Spark, I didn’t start my career in PR straight away. But unlike a large portion of the team, I wasn’t a recruiter either. Instead I began my working life as a fresh faced 19 year old in another industry people usually have misconceptions of – banking. An interesting choice for someone who avoided Maths like the plague and took A-Levels in English, Media Studies and History.
Journalism v. PR – the struggle:
Whilst still working in banking, I decided to give a career in journalism a proper shot. So I went to university for the first time and began an undergraduate degree in (drumroll please) …journalism and media. Although I haven’t graduated yet – roll on 2018! – it was here that I first truly began to understand the workings of the media. I have been, and continue to be, taught by some great current and former journalists and media practitioners. But they were all very keen to set expectations; you won’t get paid much as a journalist, you’ll probably have to work for free for a while to build a portfolio, you’re competing with hundreds of others for internships and jobs.
While I’m not afraid of hard work, coming to a career change slightly later in life means having existing commitments and constraints on your time. Journalism looked increasingly impossible as a practical career option in my first year studying. So I looked at what I liked about the idea of journalism – the writing and creating stories, the opportunity to speak to a diverse range of people, being ahead of the news, and being able to learn something new. By my second year at university, I had escaped banking altogether, and was instead working in marketing for a start-up. It was here I first encountered a PR agency and got an inkling that it might be where I would end up (little did Spark know that less than a year later I would!). So, now I’ve settled into PR, here is what I’ve learnt.
What a career in PR gives you:
- Usually a better salary (but a few less invites to lunch/drinks and you’re usually the one footing the bill).
- A great telephone manner and a thick skin (also a great opportunity to hone your skills of persuasion – a good one to use in the run up to Christmas/your birthday).
- The chance to be incredibly sociable (you get to chat on the phone all day about anything and everything – if my account managers are reading this it’s all relevant I promise!).
- The opportunity to write – drafting press releases, thought leadership pieces and blog posts (without the glory of your name in a byline – great if you’ve never particularly wanted your name in lights anyway).
- A chance to influence the news agenda – if you catch the right journalist at the right time (have a look at our Coverage Cup blog for some examples).
- The ability to use many of the same skills as journalism, but put into practice in a different way (researching, writing and even interviewing clients to get information from them).
Ultimately, I realised that I could get the same satisfaction from PR as I could from journalism. While I greatly admire the work of journalists, I’m not sure that I could do the job as well (and being a perfectionist I don’t like to admit that). In the past year, Spark has managed to convince me that PR is everything I want as a career – I’m officially a member of the ‘dark side’ and I’m proud of it.