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What I’ve learned from a month in PR

What I’ve learned from a month in PR

Monday morning, Wardour Street, Soho, 8am. Not due to be in the office until 9 a.m., I was two coffees down and definitely rather anxious about my first day in the big wide working world. The first thing I learnt, however, is that the most apprehensive part about a new job is the hours leading up to it: once you’re there you barely have a chance to remember to be worried.

A month has passed since my first day at PHA and I’ve learned a lot in that period. Looking back, if I could have asked for one thing before I started it would have been some advice on what to expect, so here is my guide to anyone starting in PR.


  1. Ask questions. Lots of questions. As Voltaire said, “Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” Smart man. The more you ask the more you learn, it really is that simple.


  1. Don’t expect to know everyone’s names within your first week (unless you’re in a company with ten people, in which case you probably should). During one internship I accidentally sent an email to a client instead of my colleague as I confused their names. Much embarrassment. Revisit point one.


  1. Flexibility is your friend. Firstly, no one day is the same in PR and you could plan your day down to the last second but chances are that something will crop up that throws this plan out of the window. By all means, be organised (this will help A LOT), have targets for each day, but don’t always expect plain sailing.


  1. Chances are, you may know more about the day to day workings of PR than some of your clients. This can be a bit of a blessing, the less they know the more responsibility you have and the less they might try to correct you. Of course, this also means that you need to understand exactly what you are doing for them and guide them through it step by step.


  1. Be a chameleon. Being in PR means that you have to be able to judge how you present yourself in front of certain people, and this changes from colleagues to client and from client to client. One client regularly includes ‘fo shizzle’ in her responses, some clients may not understand this down-with-the-kids talk, so probably best avoided overall.


  1. Speak your mind! At the interview you sold yourself as someone who would be able to contribute something valuable to the team, so voice your opinions and ideas. After all, you weren’t hired to sit in the background.


  1. You’ll develop a new found passion for something you have never even thought about before. Well, you will at least spend enough time writing and pitching so enthusiastically about something you’ll think you have.


  1. Very few things are ever irretrievable. Probably the most reassuring piece of advice: if something goes wrong, keep calm and ask for help, your colleagues will always be on hand to assist.

For more information about PR jobs, internships or opportunities at The PHA Group, visit our recruitment section by clicking this link or email


Image courtesy of Niuton May,

An inspiring day with Beth Tweddle at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

In order to launch Young Enterprise’s new and exciting Fiver Challenge initiative, we took to the ArcelorMittal Orbit in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with Britain’s very own Olympic hero Beth Tweddle and a group of very excitable year six students.

The new Fiver Challenge, supported by Virgin Money and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, is all about introducing enterprise into primary school education and encouraging children to get creative and work hard towards achieving their goals.

Beth Tweddle launches the Fiver initiative at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

It was for this reason we thought Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, an area once crammed full of sporting legends and that remains a spot of great memories where world records were broken and dreams met, made the perfect location for the launch. The ArcelorMittal Orbit, in particular, is a beacon of inspiration for young people and a reminder of Britain’s success in the London Olympics 2012.

The weather was in our favour and after a quick photo shoot with the pupils from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, a wad of fake five pound notes and the gymnastic legend herself; Beth showed the kids a video of her astonishing achievements, leaving everyone amazed, before we headed up the Orbit for a Q&A session.

With a bird’s eye view of the Olympic Stadium in the background, Beth asked the children what they planned to do with their five pound pledges before revealing what she was going to do with hers – promote that five of her iconic leotards (three of them signed) were going to be put up for auction on the Young Enterprise eBay page in order to raise money for her chosen charity, Alder Hey Children’s hospital in Liverpool.

There seemed to be a common trend amongst the children with the majority of responses revolving around food businesses, including fruit kebabs and cakes!

We wish all primary school children taking part in the competition throughout the month of June the best of luck and look forward to seeing what wonderful ideas they come up with.

Six tricks to finding new inspiration

Finding inspiration and thinking creatively is vital when it comes to achieving success in public relations. If you aren’t feeling particularly inspired yourself, how can you possibly engage a journalist and their audience with your PR campaign? However, it isn’t always easy to feel inspired and think creatively when you’re under pressure.

One of our clients, creative entrepreneur Guy Armitage, is the founder of artist networking site Zealous and is putting on a celebration of the UK’s creative talent at the Bargehouse in London’s Southbank this month. I picked his brains to discover how he manages to stay inspired and come up with so many creative ideas every day, and my favourite suggestions are as follows:

Guy Armitage, founder of Zealous

Guy Armitage, founder of Zealous

Make time 

One of the very basic ideas of being creative is making time for it. It’s immeasurable, so frustration can arise when you’re working on a deadline, but I often find myself at my most creative when I let my mind rest and wonder. Besides, an idea isn’t automatically a good one, the more time you allow yourself the better your idea will become, and the easier it will be to filter the good ones from the bad ones. “Sleeping on it” is not just an expression, it really works. Time to question is never time wasted.

Be ready

Inspiration strikes at any time, be sure to have a notebook or smartphone with you everywhere. Also, put something near your bed, you never know what you’ll dream up during the night.

Break routine

Everything you do in your life feeds into your creativity. If you do the same thing every day, don’t expect fresh ideas. This could be as extreme as taking a spontaneous weekend camping trip, but as simple as changing your walk to work. Anything that forces you out of your comfort zone will help towards gathering the materials that will form the premise to your imagination.


Leave your iPod at home, put that book down, and look up. The world is full of stories, scenes, tragedies and challenges. Notice them, these could form parts of your business strategy.


Like most things, ideas are greater than the sum of their parts. Sharing with a total stranger is advised, as only they will give you a valid opinion.

Be childish

Was it that long ago that a stick and box could become a racing car, a rocket, a pink pony with an aversion to Brussels sprouts? Think back to your youth and embrace your inner child. Going back to memories of your past may well help you get back some of the creative magic children have in their perception of the world.

If you’re in London between the 29 November – 1 December make sure you head down to Guy’s free exhibition, ‘Zealous X’, at the Bargehouse in Southbank. The event will showcase the creativity of 100 artists, photographers, performers, musicians and filmmakers from across the UK and include talks from industry experts and fantastic events like live music and body painting.

Why it pays to be flexible

It should come as no surprise that the way that we are working is changing. With smartphones, the cloud and on-the-go technology people are no longer confined to their desks and the ‘9 to 5’ is increasingly becoming a thing of the past. We now have more freedom when it comes to where, when and how we work and companies need to embrace this brave, new world of flexible working.

Improvements in communications and technology mean that employees don’t need to be in their office all day every day. They can access documents remotely and hold meetings via video conferencing while avoiding the dreaded commute and spending more time with their loved ones.

Flexible working is on the rise - and for good reason.

Flexible working is on the rise – and for good reason.

As well as cost savings on printing and desk space, flexible working can help employees achieve the elusive ‘work-life balance’ and improve staff satisfaction levels which will ultimately improve the retention of quality staff. So why aren’t all companies doing it?

Flexible working involves an element of trust and there has been some resistance to flexible working in the past. It can conjure up images of employees sitting at home in their pyjamas and watching daytime television (who can say no to Jeremy Kyle?) but statistics show that it really pays for businesses to be flexible.

For example, flexible working makes employees 39 percent more productive and these extra productive hours per week per employee can result in an impressive extra £4,200 profit per employee – you can’t argue with that!

Detractors will be quick to point out the cons flexible working such as feeling isolated or not being able to switch off from work. However, this shouldn’t be a problem if you use a drop in workspace or hub, another option other than working from your kitchen table or coffee shop that allows you to work flexibly.

Hubs are great places to work remotely from and will provide you with different types of spaces to work in; areas for quiet focused individual work, spaces for casual or formal meetings and areas for social interaction. You can also meet interesting, like-minded people in these collaborative spaces and talk to them about business ideas or your business problems – a fresh pair of eyes, just like a change in location, can really do wonders for your working life.

The law on flexible working is changing and the government proposes to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees in 2014 so don’t be afraid to speak to your employer about this.

The working world is changing and we all need to be more flexible.

The importance of PR in business is growing

The acknowledgement that PR professionals make great contributions to the successful running of businesses has long since been made.

Take a look around the offices of well-known institutions: of course, you’ll see the Chairman’s multi-aspect corner plot but, let the eye wander a bit further, and often you’ll encounter the Director of Communication set up, albeit in more modest fashion, next door to the boss.

PR is becoming increasingly important to top-level business decision making

PR is becoming increasingly important to top-level business decision making

The office plan is a physical manifestation of the importance of PR insight in the day to day running of a business. Before a new strategy is rolled out, the question is how should it be packaged and communicated so as to make the most impact on the chosen audience? Enter the Director of Communications. By the same token, when a business is suddenly beset by a reputational crisis, how should it be dealt with to minimise the impact on staff and the general public. Another job for the Director of Communications.

Surely it is only a matter of time before PR professionals become Chairmen as a matter of course. Their fingers are permanently on the pulse of a business and their minds in harmony with consumers; vital qualities in the success of any enterprise. On that note, it was gratifying to see John Fallon become the first PR man to take charge of a FTSE 100 company this year, when he became Chief Executive of Pearson, the learning company.

Fallon had joined Pearson as Director of Communications and rapidly become indispensable. Yet his presence at the helm of a large listed business is the exception rather than the rule currently. Research from recruitment company Robert Half found that more than half of FTSE 100 bosses had a financial background, with others emerging from engineering (14%), retail/hospitality management (10%), marketing (6%) and IT (4%).

If we fast-forward five or ten years, though, the figures may look very different. More and more companies are recognising the importance of PR in the business world and it is likely that Directors of Communication, the close allies and confidants of Chairmen, will find a direct route to the corner office and get the chance to run the show themselves.