The observant among you may have noticed #raisingtheprofile has been a little quiet recently.
With finishing the post graduate element of my Masters Degree (only the dissertation to go now), relocating to Manchester and starting a new job, I’ve been pretty strapped for time of late.
Anyway, enough about me! #raisingtheprofile is back . . . and with one or two changes.
Due to my now ‘grown up’ commitments (eeeeeeeeek!), unlike before, I’ll only be posting on my blog and holding the Twitter chats once a month. The post will be published on the last Monday of every month with the Twitter chat happening the following Wednesday.
So, now we’re all up to speed, without further ado it is my great pleasure to introduce to you this month’s PR pro . . .
Caroline Holmes is a senior communications officer at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) – the UK’s leading road safety charity. After joining the IAM in 2009 as a communications and marketing assistant (her first job), she was promoted to communications officer in 2010, before being promoted again in September of 2011 to senior communications officer. Caroline then went on to win the PRCA ‘Young Communicator of the Year’ award last November.
Potential Employee Profile:
“Small in-house team seeks competent writer with a willingness to learn. Must be prepared to participate in out-of-hours press duty.”
Five Quick-Fire Questions:
In your opinion, what’s the best (and maybe even worst) bit about working in PR?
Seeing work I’ve done get out into the public domain. Seeing my advice in print, backing up the campaign messages and hopefully making a difference, is a brilliant feeling.
With this goes the responsibility of what you’ve said being printed, and that could be anything you’ve said, rather than what you’ve given as your quote. On one occasion I was asked why white cars had got so popular again, for a feature. I got some thoughts from one of our experts and sent it across. The only thing they printed from me was “White is fashionable right now”. I felt it made me look rather shallow.
How did you first get your foot on the ladder of a career in PR?
I was a member of the IAM before I joined, having passed my advanced driving test in 2007. I graduated in 2009, and handed my CV to our HR director at the conference that October. Fortunately the communications and marketing assistant position had just become vacant, so I got an interview.
Having a personal interest in a subject is a good ‘in’. PR is a popular industry, but most organisations will have a PR department. As well as searching job sites etc, keep an eye on the companies in the sector you’re most interested/have most experience in.
If you were a PR student about to graduate, what would you be doing to raise your profile and ensure you’re noticed by potential employer?
In hindsight, working on my CV and cover-letter writing skills. Although they take longer, application forms which ask for a covering letter/supporting information as well as a CV put you in a much better position to get an interview. You can demonstrate how you would be able to support each of the key specifications in theory, whether or not you have the specific work experience in practice.
For example, instead of stating ‘I have good project management skills’, give an example using STAR. If uni is your only experience, use a major project you did as part of your course.
Situation: What was the situation?
Task: What did you have to achieve?
Action: What did you do to deal with this task?
Result: What was the outcome.
In the Potential Employee Profile, you told us about the type of graduate you would want to recruit, but what’s a big ‘turn-off’ for you in a potential employee?
Somebody that is clearly just looking for a job, rather than the one I’m recruiting for. We know graduates are applying for anything they can, but everybody likes to feel wanted. Do your research on the company, and have a think about what you’ll say when asked the inevitable “So why do you want this job?”
And finally, any last minute words of wisdom or advice you’d like to share?
Don’t underestimate the skills you can learn in a smaller organisation. There are generally more opportunities to take on tasks outside of your immediate area of responsibility. No social media strategy? Think about how you could implement some. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but if you can show you’re successfully adding something your employer will be thrilled, and it gives you a great thing to talk about at interviews.
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And there you have it! Some fantastic advice from someone who has ‘been there and done that’ only very recently. If our careers take off like Caroline’s, I wonder where we’ll all be in three years time?
Many thanks to Caroline for giving up her time and agreeing to take part – I really appreciate it.
And now like in previous posts, it’s over to you. Have a read through Caroline’s answers and formulate some questions of your own.
Then join us on Wednesday 27th June at 7pm for the Twitter chat using the hashtag #raisingtheprofile.
Don’t forget to follow me [@AM_Bailey] and Caroline [@kisscasholmes] – we look forward to chatting with you then.