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PR Work Experience: Gaining Industry Knowledge and Insights into the world of PR

31 January 2017

Recently, we were thrilled to welcome Tom Gallagher to Bridge PR and Media as part of his 3-week assignment at university for Career Development.

A budding journalist, with an appetite for writing and keen interest in the PR sector, Tom is in his third and final year, currently studying Sports PR and Journalism at Staffordshire University. Tom wrote the following blog post for us.

Why I am exploring PR as a career option

PR is a passion which has developed throughout my time at university, thanks to academic studying and learning from experienced PR professionals through lectures and seminars. Media studies at A-level was my favourite subject at school where I was able to transfer my passion for reading print publications into writing my own material. My course prepared me well for going into university to learn the skills a career PR was going to offer me.

After researching the university course in-depth and looking into the PR industry, it fuelled my desire to learn more from PR experts, which Staffordshire University offered. When I decided on taking the course and applied, I remember telling my parents that I was doing Sports PR and Journalism. I could see the confusion in their face. “PR?”, “what’s that?” They understood I had an interest in journalism and it was always an avenue I wanted to explore, but PR to them was a massive surprise. Having the option of both journalism and PR, was something which appealed to me as I could learn a variety of skills from both industries.

When it came to selecting my three weeks work placement for one of my final year assignments, I immediately knew I wanted to choose PR. I researched a lot of PR companies in both the Coventry and Staffordshire area, but when I found Bridge, the company immediately stood out to me, and it appealed to me that Bridge is a PR company specialising in the manufacturing, engineering and the technology sectors. Bridge has a team of specialist and experienced content creators, which appealed to me even more. I knew the skills I had learnt from my time at university would fit into the team easily. They were easy to contact, friendly and replied directly, which made the application process a lot easier.

Getting down to work

During my time with Bridge, I was given a variety of tasks which allowed me to experience first-hand how all of the areas of the company work. I was involved in helping the team to collate and write the social media content for clients, which means finding news stories relevant to the clients’ industries that would appeal to their audiences as well as posting any news regarding the company with relevant links to their website.

Whilst learning a wide range of new skills, the experience also helped me to improve existing ones. One of these was learning about writing blog posts for the company’s website and relating them to the PR sector. Writing a blog post that was being used for professional purposes made me more focused on making sure it was to the highest standard. Another task was helping to edit and design the layout for a case study which would be released to the relevant publications and placed on the client’s website.

One of the skills that I have improved thanks to my time with Bridge would definitely be my communication skills. I was tasked with ringing a number of industry specific publications in order to pitch to them for a case study to be published. This task helped me later in the week as I phoned over thirty companies for the contact details of a marketing/PR manager within the business (gathering data is important for every business I quickly learned, and it’s the subject of another blog post in this enewsletter). Communication is one of the most fundamental skills required for a journalist working for a publication or in PR, so I am happy that I was able to learn in a professional environment. I am now far more confident with interacting with strangers and speaking to professionals on the phone.

One afternoon, I attended a client meeting with the MD and Bridge’s Social and Digital Account Executive. This was to MarchantCain which is a design engineering consultancy and low volume manufacturing company. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience as I was able to gain an understanding of what occurs during these meetings, what are the key questions to ask, what information is important to leave with and how it will help Bridge’s and also the client’s content marketing strategy. Following this meeting with MarchantCain, I left the office feeling very excited regarding the company’s plans and where they want to be. Their Marketing Director, Pam Cain, gave us a tour around their offices and factory floor and explained the latest products in detail, such as a bridge they have designed and created. It gripped my attention, and I now have a new interest in the Engineering and Manufacturing sectors.

PR is vital for the manufacturing and engineering sectors as their specialities lie within the manual side of working and they may struggle to increase the reputation of their company. This is where PR can help them, in terms of branding, exposure and credibility. The engineering sector is ever-growing so a company will always need to be creative and innovate in order to be distinctive in their markets. From a fresh perspective of someone coming into the PR world, I would urge Manufacturers and Engineers to invest in good PR as it can really boost your potential client reach and raise your company profile.

I would like to say to people who are studying media, journalism or any form of writing course that PR is an option for you. There is a wide range of areas in which you can be involved in the PR industry.

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