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

Top 3 web pages all our fashion students should read!

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Getting a foot in the door of the fashion industry can be daunting. It’s an extremely competitive world which requires creativity, an ability to work alongside strategists and keep up with rapidly changing trends whilst engaging with a demanding client base always on the look-out for new and exciting creations.

That being said, fashion can be a very exciting and fulfilling career option for graduates whose love for the fashion industry is only paralleled by their determination to leave their mark on it.

Whether you’re just about to join us in Sheffield, or you’re about to graduate and are currently setting up this year’s Degree Show Fashion Show, here’s our top 3 web pages every Hallam Fashion student should read!

Number 1: Work Experience and Networking in the Fashion Industry

Summary: Work experience is crucial for entering the fashion industry and can take the form of internships, volunteering, placements, work shadowing or part-time work.

Number 2: Becoming a Freelance Fashion Designer 

Summary: It is extremely common for people working in the creative sector to be self-employed either full-time or on a part-time basis whilst combining it with employed work; the latter is known as a portfolio career. Designers tend to be independent, creative thinkers and are often self-employed and/or in occupations involving project work and short-term contracts with both small and large organisations.

Number 3: Finding and Applying for Jobs in Fashion

Speculative approaches are generally more effective ways to find jobs in the design/arts industries.  A speculative application involves approaching a company about the possibility of working for them rather than applying to an advertised vacancy. It could be an effective way to bypass the huge number of applications that any individual company may receive to one advertised vacancy. Also, remember that many SMEs (small-medium sized companies) very rarely advertise vacancies as they receive sufficient speculative applications to recruit in this way.  Fashion directories can provide a list of companies to approach!

 

 

International Women’s Day 2018

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Our event is on Thursday 8th March at 12pm in the Careers and Employability Centre and is called ’Women Leading Social Change’.

Women Leading Social Change is part of SheFest and is hosted by Sheffield Hallam University and the Sheffield Social Enterprise Network www.ssen.org.uk

On International Women’s Day we will be hearing from successful social entrepreneurs. They will talk about why social enterprise is changing the face of the business sector, as well as the challenges and successes they have faced along the way.

There will be time for networking after the panel discussion. 

The speakers are:

Sangita Basudev is a founder member of Sheffield Live! the local community media organisation. She has spent a majority of her working life in social enterprises, co-ops and the community voluntary sector.

Jo Hercberg is the founder and co Director of The Real Junk Food Project Sheffield, a social enterprise saving food from being wasted and doing amazing things with it. The project began in 2015 and now runs 2 cafés, the Sharehouse Market, an ethical catering operation and an educational program for schools with 180+ volunteers and 6 employees.

Sophie Maxwell founded the Really NEET Project back in 2011, she wanted to develop a college where young people who had complex needs including mental health issues, care-leavers, young people on probation, young parents, young people with learning disabilities and other such barriers could learn in a safe environment, most of Really NEET’s young people have struggled in all previous education placements including school. Really NEET works with a 160 young people a year across Rotherham, Barnsley and Sheffield. Sophie was driven by her own experience, she was pulled out of school at 14 to escape domestic violence and ended up homeless at 16. She has won many national awards for the work she has done including the high sheriffs award for devoted services to the community and the Duke of York Award. 

Students can book their place via UniHub https://unihub.shu.ac.uk/students/events/detail/579242

We ask an environmental consultancy practice: what does your company actually do and what are the routes into working in this area?

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Sophie Lewis, Landscape Consultant for Tyler Grange explains what the company does and gives two case studies of routes in:

What Tyler Grange Actually do:

Tyler Grange (TG) offer expert advice, assessment and consultancy services in relation to planning applications and new developments. Their work covers a broad range of projects in both urban and rural contexts and includes complex urban extensions, major infrastructure proposals (roads, rail, housing), and commercial development. Depending on the project, work might include site surveys (existing physical features including trees and habitats, protected species surveys), environmental assessments (e.g. animal and plant species on site) and recommendations to ensure clients comply with environmental legislation when planning new developments including strategies for minimising the impact of new developments on the ecological environment.

Specialist teams cover each area:

Arboriculture

Our team of arboriculture consultants specialise in the production of BS5837 surveys, the formulation of tree protection strategies associated with complex development sites; and, the critique and challenge of Tree Preservation Order (TPO) designations.

Ecology

Our team of ecologists are members of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), working in accordance with the Code of Practice, to carry out surveys and assessments on protected species such as bats, badgers, newts and birds.

Landscape

Our team of landscape architects provides advice in relation to all aspects of landscape planning; from initial site appraisal, through the preparation of Landscape/Townscape and Visual Impact Assessments (L/TVIA) to the presentation of landscape evidence at public inquiries.

Getting into this area of work:

There’s no set route in, it’s a case of building up practical experience and securing additional qualifications in areas which interest you (for example experience with protected species if you’re considering ecology).

Team Member Case Studies

Laura Mason – Landscape Consultant

Following an initial degree in Geography and Environmental Management, Laura gained further masters-level qualifications in Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Landscape Architecture.

Laura says: “I was uncertain what to do after my first degree in Geography so went on to study GIS. This led me towards working as a Graphics Technician within a large multi-disciplinary environmental consultancy company. Once there I discovered landscape assessment and decided to undertake further studies into Landscape Architecture to become a qualified landscape professional and a member of the Landscape Institute. I enjoy working in this sector because of the cross-over between the different disciplines and the variety of work available.” 

Introducing Hilary Thumpston – Landscape Intern

Hilary is undertaking a ‘Master of Landscape Architecture’ (MLA) degree at Manchester Metropolitan University and joined TG as part of her placement module for the summer of 2017. Before the MLA, Hilary completed the BSc in Environmental Science course at SHU. Her time at SHU led her towards a career in environmental consultancy through her studies into topics such as remediation, EIA, atmospheric and water quality and ecology.

Hilary says: “My placement is based within the landscape department and my work involves providing technical landscape advice to improve development designs to the benefit of the local landscape and users. TG also provide Ecology and Arboriculture services which I am encouraged to become involved with. There are many different careers within companies such as TG which can stem from an initial qualification in Environmental Science.”

For further information about working within this area and things you can do to increase your chances of getting into this area, have a look at the case studies on Tyler Grange’s site and the ‘environmental consultant’ and ‘landscape architect’ profiles on National Careers Service or Prospects

Disability Confident Employers

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Disability Confident Employer

Sheffield Hallam University is proud to be a Disability Confident employer

Sheffield Hallam’s Careers and Employability Service recognises some of the employers taking action to increase diversity in their workforce

With over 31,000 students Sheffield Hallam University is the 7th largest university in the UK. We have a diverse student population that reflects the make- up of many major cities. It is essential therefore that we encourage employers who make a public commitment to reflect our diverse society in their workforce to attend our recruitment fair. One of these commitments is to the disability-confident-campaign

Ten of our visiting employers have pledged a commitment to their current and potential employees. An example of some pledges include – supporting positive and inclusive recruitment  –  being offered interviews. This is great news to the 12% of Sheffield Hallam students who have a long term medical condition or disability who feel encouraged to apply to such companies.

The ‘disability confident’ employers attending are: 3Squared, Dunelm (Soft Furnishings) Ltd, EY,Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Millbrook Venues, PKF Cooper Parry, QHotels, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – Finance Department, Twinkl Educational Publishing. The Fair Guide for students will identify this charter.

Lisa Cameron from EY explains why it makes business sense for them to reflect and take action to support employees with disabilities.

Employers attending the recruitment Fair on 26th October can find out more about this scheme and others that help promote diversity in employment from the Careers and Employability Service.

Karen Allan, Sheffield Careers and Employability Service 16/10/17

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.

Product design graduates return to share their experiences

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Product Design Workshop

Post written by Caroline Hanson, Employability Adviser, Art and Design

Last month saw the first ever “Employability Week” aimed at Product and Furniture Design students, organised by senior lecturer Dean, in collaboration with industry experts and the Careers and Employability Service. The first day included three graduates from product and furniture design courses at Sheffield Hallam sharing about their current roles and career path since completing the course. Tom was using his creative skills to work as a marketing manager for Harris Brushes. He shared from his own experience about the negativity that can be faced after graduation which he called the hope/doom seesaw, to him, listening to the hopeful and aspirational voice was important to persevere through initial rejections. He encouraged students to go the extra mile at interviewing order to be memorable, for instance he designed and showed different elements of his design and marketing skills in his portfolio. Since beginning the role, it has developed greatly into a hybrid of marketing and design, he emphasised “Don’t be confined but the boundaries that are given when you secure a role.” Approaching people directly had paid off for him in the past and he even used LinkedIn to contact staff members within an organisation before the interview.

Abby had worked in a number of product design positions before her current role at W’innovate, which is a company based locally in Worksop and designs products for Wilkinsons. She has worked for in house design teams, in consultancy roles and also on a freelance basis, even having the opportunity to visit the production factories in China and gain an understanding of how her designs are manufactured. She emphasised the importance of commercial awareness, especially in consultancy roles, including being aware of the cost of the materials, the target market of your product and the selling price. Her advice for students was “Know yourself and the things you are good at and like working on, then you can sell yourself more effectively.” Her organisation is a graduate centre of excellence, offers short placements and is currently recruiting for a graduate positions of Assistant Product designer, so do take a look if you think this could be the role for you.

The afternoon session focused on portfolio development and every student had the unique opportunity to receive portfolio feedback from a professional in industry. Speaker Nick, reminded listeners that a portfolio should “Sell you, not just your products” and include broad a range of skills. As a recruiter he wanted to see your best work in your portfolio, not everything you’ve ever done, include rough sketches to show development of ideas and ensure a visual impact, by getting rid of any large blocks of text. Key advice was to “Build your personal brand and be thick skinned,” he also recommended entering design competitions open to recent graduates.

Students spoke positively about the day and went away with practical feedback on how to improve their portfolio and CVs. The remainder of the week included input from a top branding agency, practical workshops from the careers team and a boot camp for students to develop their enterprising skills, a number of students took up the offer of one to one appointments or enterprise advice to develop their plans further. Keep an eye on https://careerservice.shu.ac.uk/ to find out about other events coming up!

 

#NWED2016 – National Women in Engineering Day

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Post by Level 4 Sport Technology Student student, Arona Morrison.

I chose my course, BSc Sport Technology because it combined all the subjects from school that I love and excel at, some more than others. I excelled at both design and P.E. at A-level and combined they lead me to the sports line of engineering, however my passion for science and maths was what truly pushed me to become an engineering.

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I say passion because I had to work hard at both as I often struggled in maths. I have always had a need to want to know how things work and operate and this course allows me to figure this out from looking at the materials equipment is made from to the forces acting upon each separate piece. My course specifically also looks at human anatomy and how equipment interacts with the human body, which I really enjoy.
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I hope by completing this course that in the future I will be able to get a job designing equipment specific to climbing as this another of my passions and being able to combine the two would be a dream job.

Benefits of working for small firms during your 20’s

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liam-solomon-1Post by 2015 BA (Hons) Marketing graduate, Liam Soloman

I graduated last year (2015) from Sheffield Hallam University with a degree in Marketing. It was extremely daunting seeing my class mates beginning to get jobs and the pressure was building to jump into a career and start paying back those student loans.

I explored the possibility of working for a start-up after watching an inspiring talk from Jack Ma on career paths (click here to view video). In the video, the founder of Alibaba gives a powerful speech on the benefits of working for small firms during your 20’s, to learn a range of new skills, gain valuable mentoring and to be submerged in an environment of passion and desire to succeed. I can honestly say that working for a start-up has ticked all the above and more.

I had briefly worked for two large corporate entities (one in my placement year and one after graduating) and found I was very limited in regard to challenges I faced. I felt I wasn’t regularly learning new things and found it hard to make my mark in an already established company.

With this in mind, I applied for a paid internship in an exciting start-up. I was fortunate enough to get the role at Love the Sales, a company that aggregates all retail sales and displays them on their website. They have a completely unique idea which has been eye-opening to work on. The innovation and creativity in the team is contagious and you get a real sense of achievement from the effort you put into the business.

liam-solomon-2I have always worried about making mistakes when starting a new job, however, working for a start-up is a world apart from the corporate pressure and office politics you find at larger companies. In a start-up, learning is key. Knowing what works and what doesn’t is essential to improving the businesses position. So, if you do something and it doesn’t work you have still learnt something. The atmosphere in the office is always very relaxed and encouraging, the ideology of testing ideas, learning and building from them if they succeed or fail is great to be apart of.

It’s funny, when you’re sitting in a lecture half listening, wondering whether you’ll use this information at all, well, you do! It’s scary how much you recall and put in to practice when brainstorming or trying to figure out a solution to a problem.

If you’re like me and you worry about the possibility of cementing your career choice in the first job you take, then a start-up is a perfect solution to give you time to decide what you like and don’t like and where your skills lie.

Learning something new everyday, no matter how small, is so important at the beginning of your career. Since the start of my internship I have worked on social media, copywriting content, building SEO, email marketing and writing code to name a few. In this internship I’ve been able to gain an array of skills in different areas of the business, not just within a specific silo.

What’s surprised me most since working in this start-up though, is the amount of time my bosses have dedicated to teaching me new skills and enhancing my learning. It’s a very motivating feeling to have bosses that really invest in your personal development.

Now half a year on from graduation, I have progressed from an internship to an SEO executive with the company, learning valuable career skills and enjoying every minute!