I hope you’re all having a good week. I’m here today with a new Career Inspiration interview. For those of you who’re new to Career Inspiration, the aim is to help people looking for career ideas, a career change or simply an insight into what others do.
It’s very hard to know what you want to do in life and I’ve always loved finding out about what others do and the journey they took to get there. So, I hope you enjoy today’s interview with Lo, an Account Executive.
What did you study at university and why?
I studied Sport and Exercise Science; I’d always been interested in sport at school and didn’t even consider doing another course, which in hindsight was probably a bad idea! I wish I’d done more research into the course, as that would definitely have made me reconsider. Career wise, it’s not a ‘feeder’ degree for much, unless you want to continue doing research, which after three years I definitely didn’t.
How did you go from studying Sport and Exercise Science to working in PR?
In my final year, I spent a lot of time looking at career options. I didn’t want to work in recruitment, or another typical temporary graduate job, so I needed to find something I would actually enjoy and be good at. I originally looked at marketing and wanted to find out more, so applied for work experience at a full-service agency. Looking to get a taste of everything, I spent a couple of days in the PR department to start with and loved it. I actually had no idea what PR was until I started working on it, but I’d always been good at writing so really enjoyed working on press releases for actual clients. Work experience is fantastic for giving you direction when you feel lost; without it I’d have never found out what PR was like!
Please could you tell us what the role of a PR Executive involves?
Being an account executive is quite a junior role, but it’s still really hands on and client facing which is great. In my office, there’s also a senior account exec and an account manager, so I mainly support them on client accounts. It ties in some admin related stuff, things like formatting press coverage and creating media lists, but also writing press releases and attending launch events – so varied!
What do you enjoy most about working in PR?
The variety is definitely a bonus working in an agency – it never gets boring! All clients have different peaks throughout the year, so there’s never really a quiet period. Although it can be stressful juggling different clients, it’s full of opportunities and a really social career path.
What has been your biggest challenge in your career?
I can be quite shy, so networking is sometimes quite tricky! Time management is also a constant battle; deadlines come thick and fast and it could be the difference between securing some amazing national coverage and missing out completely. You have to be organised, which is hard to maintain when you’re busy.
What is a typical workday like?
This is so hard as everyday is so different! I guess today was quite a good insight though, so here you go:
First thing I do when I get in is check my emails. I flag anything important and prioritise key things for the day, normally adding 100 more things to my weekly to do list… From then on it’s a mix of writing press releases, drafting other copy, working on social media calendars, selling in a story to the press or researching ideas for creative campaigns. Add in to the mix meetings with a regional journalist to discuss opportunities – it’s so nice to meet up face to face for a coffee, it’s not only a fab way to build relationships (which always comes in handy when you need a favour!), but it’s great to talk through what both of you are currently working on. We also have monthly update meetings with clients to talk through activity for the previous month and what’s upcoming, so the diary gets booked up quickly!
When did you start your blog and has it played a part in your career?
I started my blog in May last year, just as an outlet for me to write my own content. I actually keep it completely separate and no-one at work even knows this exists! I’d say my career has helped more with my blog than the other way round, it’s given me confidence in my writing and working with bloggers on a daily basis have given me so many tips – I’m forever emailing myself links to blog tips or great posts!
What keeps you motivated?
I think it’s always seeing the bigger picture. It’s so easy to lose motivation on a small task, but when you take a step back and look at what that small thing could be a part of, that certainly helps me to keep going.
What advice would you give to others thinking of a career in PR?
Firstly – do it! It’s such a fun and exciting career path, and with so many different areas you’ll find one you love. Don’t expect big bucks to start with, but hard work pays off as in anything. Secondly – never stop learning. There’s always something new to consider, so you have to be prepared to keep developing.
Finally, What direction do you hope to take your career in 2015?
I’d love to keep doing what I’m doing, growing in confidence and generally getting better! I’m working towards promotion too, so that’s my big ambition this year, and I’m hoping to become more known in the field too – ambitious but definitely achievable.
Thank you so much to Lo for taking the time to be part of my Career Inspiration series. I wish her the best of luck in the future and have no doubt that her hard work and dedication will pay off.
This interview is another example of the way in which people move away from the subject they studied at university. It also highlights (again) the importance of internships. Not only can internships/work experience give you the chance to find a career you enjoy but they can also help you to figure out what you don’t want to do.