Why a career in PR content is the right role for writers

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Post by Holly Ashford, Senior Content Writer at Babel

If you’re a student or graduate on one of Hallam’s dedicated PR courses, you’ll likely know more than I did when I first started looking into PR as a career path. An English Literature graduate and later a journalist (via a few freelance copywriting roles), I moved from a business-to-business technology publication to a technology PR agency two years ago this September.

As a former journalist and editor, I moved to ‘the dark side’ last year, and as Babel’s Senior Content Writer I’m responsible for the words that change hearts and minds. A lover of the outdoors, when I’m not cycling London’s streets I can be found running Regents Park’s paths.

I joined Babel – an international tech PR agency headquartered – in London, as a Senior Content Writer, attracted by the prospect of writing for a diverse set of clients and publications and gaining knowledge of new industry sectors. So, what does a role like Senior Content Writer involve?  What are the skills required? And how can you go about securing a career in content?

Content: the cornerstone of PR?

Content director, content marketer, integrated content strategy, content creation, content publication, content is king, optimising content, SEO content…‘content’ is an essential component of the PR/marketing argot, though remains a somewhat vague term to anyone on the outside, including many who are interested in a career in PR.

In an era where almost anyone can produce and publish text, image, audio and video, many PR agencies need someone who can do so creatively and can craft engaging and relevant content which cuts through the noise.

A day in the life

Every PR agency will be different, but at Babel there is a particular emphasis on written content, meaning anything we produce (either for clients or our own brand) involves in-depth briefing, research, creation, proofing and editing. I help to manage these processes, work with other members of the team to develop their creative ideas and writing style, and come up with new content ideas for clients. Yet a great deal of my day is spent writing and learning – which, for someone who has always wanted to be ‘a writer’ of some description, is ideal.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my role is being able to write different kinds of content for different audiences. On a given day in the office I might be working on a very technical press release for one client, whilst ghost-writing a feature destined for a trade publication for another, and transcribing material for a research-led whitepaper for a third. Creating less formal, high-level material offers a counterbalance: I might be writing a blog post for a client’s website, while overseeing output for the corporate social media account of a second.

My day is punctuated by reviewing the written work of members of the Babel team and (on occasion) clients. As well as offering an all-important second pair of eyes, this helps to ensure that the copy is as compelling as possible, always meets the client’s objectives, and promotes their core messages.

There’s a nature of unpredictability in PR, given that a great deal of what we do is governed by the daily news agenda. As Senior Content Writer my office hours will, therefore, be spent with fingers to the keyboard and an ear to the ground, keeping an eye out for breaking news stories which are relevant to any of Babel’s clients. When this occurs, I’ll immediately pen a comment in response, which the rest of the team will then pitch to the media.

Career PRospects?

PR and marketing courses offer a strong foundation for a career in PR, but this needn’t be the only route – especially if you’re looking for a content-based role. Many PR agencies looking for candidates will be open to grads from a range of disciplines – it’s more about the skills and attitude you have, and how you’ll fit in with an agency’s culture.

Strong writing skills are obviously a must, but you should be prepared to learn and adapt your writing style too, including being able to take critique (and, yes, criticism) from colleagues and clients. As a former journalist this took some getting used to, but looking back, this approach has helped to hone my writing – and ensure that clients are kept happy and the agency remains successful.

An interest in current affairs is important, and corporate acumen and marketing know-how are a plus. A willingness to learn about the trends and drivers in new – often niche – markets is essential (who knew I’d be an expert in cellular coverage solutions, next-generation networks, and TMT M&A?) and, perhaps most importantly, these skills and strengths must be supported and fuelled by creativity and a love of writing.

Babel is always on the lookout for new talent. Visit our careers page for more information, or email recruitment@babelpr.com

What are your work values and why are they important?

Values are qualities considered to be the most important guiding principles that help set priorities in your career and life. They are highly personal and define what is purposeful and meaningful to you. Though values may change in response to life circumstances, they are generally thought to be enduring and provide a compass for setting goals and making decisions.

Identifying your values can help you identify what activities and environment you might enjoy working in, focus your career aims and understand the motivators that might drive your career choice

Would earning a lot of money make you happy? Despite the phrase, “money makes the world go around” it generally doesn’t lead to job satisfaction. It’s important to consider what you enjoy and what you want from a career while thinking about your future.

Values are the things that are really important to you. They are also the things which are important to organisations and you may see them proclaimed on websites. Many organisations are beginning to recruit people who seem to have values which are in line with theirs.

Here are some examples of things you may value:- Creativity – Autonomy – Justice – Fun – Achievement – Using skills – Continuous learning – Security – Work-Life balance – Money – Status

Some values are likely to be more important to you than others so that, for example, you may be willing to sacrifice ‘security’ in a job for ‘creativity’.

Finding a job which suits you can help to give you job satisfaction and feel happier.

Imagine going to work every day and feeling proud of what you achieve. You are doing something that is important to you and you strongly believe it is worthwhile. You feel at home in your workplace and it’s as if the job were made just for you.

Faith, Hope and (working for a) Charity….. 

Eddie Smith  BSc Mathematics graduate shares his experience of looking for a role in the third sector

As a Christian, I believe that God has called me to leave a positive impact on the world. It is my belief that this calling applies in all aspects of my life, and so when looking for and applying for graduate jobs, it was important to me that this should reflect these values. I decided to focus my search on the third sector. Christians Against Poverty was a charity I had been aware of for a while, and so one day I went onto their website to see if they had any vacancies. It was then that I first heard about their internship and upon application I was successful.

The internship first appealed to me because it will give me valuable experience in an innovative charity (which has made numerous appearances on lists of best charities to work for) and will set me in good stead for a career in the third sector which is my ultimate goal. An internship role rather than a regular job attracted me because of the additional support that will be available throughout the year. This is important to me because I am aware that the leap between full-time study and the working world is large and is something I am somewhat apprehensive about. The goal of Christians Against Poverty is to free people in the UK from the grip of poverty and debt. I will be working as an intern in the Debt Operations team, putting together payment plans and negotiating repayments. This role will enable me to use the skills developed as part of my mathematics degree, whilst helping people and making a positive impact on the lives of those most in need.”

Eddie commences as a graduate intern with Christians Against Poverty on September 3rd.

To explore your values why not have a go at an online questionnaire

 

 

Ten graduate schemes to consider if you want to ‘make a difference’

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Summer is a good time to find, research and apply for graduates schemes. Here are ten graduate schemes which may interest you if you’re looking for something a little less ‘corporate’:

  1. Charity works
  2. LGA National Graduate Development
  3. Frontline
  4. Civil Service Fast Stream
  5. NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme
  6. Think Ahead
  7. Year Here
  8. The GEM Programme
  9. Teach First
  10. Leeds City Council Graduate Scheme

If any of these schemes interest you, it’s also looking at other vacancies with relevant employers (e.g. Civil Service, Housing Associations, healthcare providers) so you can gain some experience before you apply.

Make the most of your Summer – The Future is Yours

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What will you be doing this summer? Now’s your chance to shine and give yourself the best possible opportunity of starting a successful career by taking control of your future.

Log onto UniHub, search the jobs field with the words Summer 2017 and start building a standout CV.

Summer to remember

You can change your summer by:

  • Volunteering – Get involved in local and national opportunities which make a real impact for charities, festivals and events as well as equipping you with real world skills and experience.
  • Global Internships – Get stand-out global work experience through summer internships with organisations worldwide.
  • Cantor Bursary – Your chance to apply for a flexible bursary of up to £500 to help you experience living and working overseas.
  • Summer Campus Jobs Earn cash in a flexible and familiar environment on campus here at SHU. Be an Ambassador, a Shelver in the library, a Mentor for fellow students or a crucial part of an administration team.

This is your opportunity to get employability experience and give yourself the best possible opportunity of finding a career you love, whatever your year of study.

Be employable and make this year the one where you gain new skills and make an impact locally or globally to stand out from the crowd. 

To view these opportunities, please click here or log onto UniHub and type Summer 2017 in the jobs field.

Come to our careers fair on Thursday 23rd March

With our Spring Fair taking place on Thursday 23rd March, this is your chance to meet with dozens of local, national and international employers who are offering graduate recruitment, internship and placement opportunities.

If you want to hear five great reasons why you should attend our careers fair, have a look at the video below:

To book your attendance at the fair, please click here.

If you’re already attending, then here’s some great student tips on how to prepare for the fair!

We look forward to seeing you on Thursday 23rd March between 11am – 3pm in Hallam Hall and the Careers and Employability Centre.

Don’t miss your chance to be a CEO for the day

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Ever wondered what it’s like to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a multi-national company – the meetings that take place, the important decisions to be made, the hours worked and the people you network with?

Thanks to one of the UK’s leading executive search firm Odgers Berndtson, now you can as part of their CEO for a Day programme.

This unique opportunity allows University students to apply to spend a day shadowing a top CEO in order to learn from the UK’s most experienced leaders. It’s also designed to uncover promising future leaders and give students the opportunity to walk in the shoes of a senior executive.

Students go through a rigorous recruitment process, including online assessments and face-to-face interviews with our partners and consultants. Each finalist spends a day shadowing a CEO and learning about their background, career path, and an opportunity to transfer skills and better understand what drives these future leaders.

ceo-for-a-dayin-the-news-1

CEO for a Day launched in the UK in 2016 with 15 undergraduates from UK universities chosen to shadow a cross-section of leaders for a day. Participating companies and organisations included BT, ITV, Standard Chartered, Deloitte, Legal & General, The Cabinet Office and the National Trust.

So have you got what it takes to be a great leader in 2017? Then apply for this unique work experience opportunity.

Students are required to complete the application form, upload their CV and answer the following two questions.

About you: Please tell us about your career goals (100 words max.)

Your thoughts on leadership: Please answer the following question in under 500 words… What are the most important attributes of good leadership? (500 words max.)

Applications are now open and close at the end of June.

For more information including how to apply visit: https://unihub.shu.ac.uk/students/events/detail/432789/ceo-for-day-have-you-got-what- 

Make it Personal – Be a Health and Social Care Personal Assistant

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Do you want to know more about one of the fastest growing professions in the country for both full and part time employment?

If so, come along to an information event and learning session run by Disability Sheffield and start a career in health and social care.

The event is being held in Sheffield Hallam’s Heart of the Campus building (room HC.0.29) on Wednesday 15th February from 3:00pm to 5:30pm.

This event will give you an opportunity to increase your knowledge and understanding of the role of the Personal Assistant within health and social care.

Disability Sheffield are aiming to increase the recruitment and retention of those working in the PA role by giving you access to the information and resources required to gain employment in this line of work.

There will be opportunities to chat to those who not only employ their own Personal Assistants, but also people who are currently working as PAs themselves. Individual Employers and Personal Assistants will also be on hand to share their knowledge and experiences alongside informal learning sessions for you to get involved in.

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The event will feature three key sessions which are a must for any student wanting to get into Health and Social Care work;

Session 1 – Terminology and Differences
This session is a short exercise that will help you understand the differences between the care roles in the Health & Social Care industry.

Session 2 – What is the PA role?

As well as covering what attributes an ideal PA would possess, this session also involves a short Q&A that will help to dispel any myths you may have heard about the role of a Personal Assistant. We will also present you with a number of scenarios that will lead you to question what a PAs values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours might be.

Session 3 – Being a PA
This session will be an informal discussion around what it might mean to support an employer in the various roles that a PA may encounter.

Alongside this, there will be audio and visual information running that will detail real life experiences of Employers and their PAs. There will also be lots of resources available on the day for you to take away with you.

Read Francine’s PA journey here.

Read Lucy’s PA story here.

How diversity programmes can help you find work after graduation

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By Karen Allan, Employability Adviser.

Making the most of the opportunities available to you are what resourceful people try to do to achieve their ambitions. Here are some opportunities that could make the difference in securing future career success.

What are ‘diversity programmes’?

The majority of organisations recognise that having a diverse workforce that reflects the community makes good business sense. For a number of reasons, many businesses find they have underrepresentation in their workforce from people from specific groups. This could be people with disabilities, black and minority ethnic groups, gender bias in certain job roles.

To try and redress this some employers and training organisations promote ‘diversity programmes’ to give an insight and practical experience to specific groups of people. It is hoped that following such a programme, whether it is one week or three months that the participants will have the knowledge and confidence to apply for a regular job.

Here are examples of some opportunities currently being advertised. Many have closing dates in January 2017, so why not give these some thought.

Civil Service

Are you on track for 2:2, in the last two years of university and interested in working for the government? Their Summer Diversity Internship Programme will allow you to gain experience within the Civil Service, as well as being paid!

equality

https://www.faststream.gov.uk/summer-diversity-internship-programme/

Change 100

For students with a disability or specific learning need such as dyslexia then Change 100 may be offering that first entry into your ideal job.

Change 100 offer summer internships in a variety of business, IT and engineering roles. The roles are paid and supported by the Leonard Cheshire Foundation

Apply for a Change100 internship today!

To apply you must meet the following criteria:

  • have a disability or long-term health condition
  • be in the final or penultimate year of your degree, or have graduated in 2015 or 2016
  • have achieved or be predicted a 2.1 or first (mitigating circumstances will be taken into account)
  • be eligible to work in the UK for the duration of a full-time summer work placement

To find out more about the application process, please download the Change100 student brochure. For more information: email us

You can find more information and vacancies for ‘diversity programmes’ on: http://careerscentral.shu.ac.uk/planning-your-future/disabled-students then click into the most appropriate drop down tab.

From Career Impact to a Leadership Graduate program

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Farida Tejan

Farida Tejan

Post by Public Relations and Media graduate Farida Tejan

At present, I work for Capita Resourcing- part of Capita Group Plc, a FTSE100 Business Process Outsourcing Company- on the Leadership Graduate program.

The scheme is comprised of 4 rotational placements across different business units with exposure to a diverse range of customers across public and private sectors, with on-going formal business training whilst working towards an MSc in Leadership and Management.

Having completed my first rotation with the division’s sales and marketing team, I am now holding a new business development executive role with the Write Research Company, engaging with business leaders within the consumer and services industry.

The highlights of the role include having access to and engaging with senior personnel within the Consumer and Service industry and being able to earn a commission for results delivered.

Following completing my degree, I went into a role as a Digital PR Executive at a digital marketing agency for just over a year. I was then approached for an internal Digital Marketing Executive role at Capita Customer Management where I worked across the marketing and Communications teams, implementing the online strategy and maximizing brand presence and engagement online.

I think the fact that I began my job search very early on in my final year of university attributed to my success in securing a role. Attending sessions with the career service meant that I had realistic expectations of application processes, salary and what employers were looking for. In addition to being proactive, I invested time in gaining work experience as and when I could and tried to open myself up to any opportunities.

During my time at Capita Customer Management, an internal re-structure took place that motivated me to look into other opportunities within the business. I began to consider the graduate program as a viable option as I knew one of the graduates already on the scheme. I expressed an interest to my line manager who helped me to start the process of an internal application that required me to be a graduate with a 2:1 degree. Following on from this, I had to pass personality and psychometric testing followed by a telephone interview and was then invited to an assessment centre once I passed these stages. I prepared for the psychometric tests online utilising free web databases in order to practice. A similar approach was taken for the telephone interview, where I brushed up on competency-based questions and general interview techniques. The assessment centre was harder to prepare for because I had little knowledge of what to expect, here I spoke to the graduates that I knew from within the business about their experience and tried to prepare general interview and team activity skills.

My course at Hallam really pushed me to take a proactive approach to getting organised and building up my CV in addition to our academic requirements. I think this balanced focus was really key in in preparing me to excel post-university. The sessions made available to me through Career Impact were invaluable in helping me to understand the caliber of applicant that graduate employers are looking for and how to prepare for the assessments within their application processes.

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get onto a graduate scheme or even the job of your dreams- it just gives you something to work towards. In fact, it turned out that I was completely wrong about what I initially thought of as my dream job! I found that by being open to opportunities and working hard in the roles that I did manage to get, doors opened up for me and I somehow made it onto a path that worked for me.

Five weeks into my internship, a whole host of experience under my belt, and 0 coffees made for anyone but myself!

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What the intern saw

Post written by Hayley Adams, a BA Public Relations graduate. 

Five weeks into my internship, a whole host of experience under my belt, and 0 coffees made for anyone but myself! What more could I want? Aside from a huge, comfy chair of course…

I arrived in Halifax (from Sheffield, England) just five days before starting with Ammp (A Million Moving Parts), and with a homemade coin chart in hand, Chris and Ben had everything set for me from the get go. When trying to tailor my experience, they asked exactly what I wanted to learn in my time with them. I listed a few things before stopping and thinking ‘actually, I just want to try everything’ and so that’s the way it’s going.

There’s no denying that I have been a bit of a Bambi – needing the reassurance that what I am doing is right, good enough. However, beyond their eye-rolls at my panics, their laughter, patience and growing belief in the skills they drill into me daily constantly reinforces my confidence.

Halifax, Canada

Ammp’s consideration of my opinion when it comes down to major business approaches and actions makes me feel less like an intern, and more like a valued team member – something that just doesn’t happen when you’re trying to gain that always necessary experience.

Lastly, and most importantly to me is their willingness to let me go out and exercise the entire purpose of the business – being creative. Getting stuck in there with my own ideas is the sort of experience that is invaluable to my future.

With only three weeks left, I fully intend on making the most of my time with Chris and Ben, so get yourself prepared for more panic and simple questions, guys. You won’t be getting rid of me at the end, that’s for sure!