Do you work in PR through choice or necessity?

With such a wide variety of roles available in PR, it is not surprising that it attracts all sorts of people with many different skills. But how did they get there? Some fall in love with PR before they’ve even finished school, while others end up in PR after trying a few other careers first. Three practitioners explain to PRmoment.com how they got into the industry.

Falling in love with PR after work experience at 15

Amy Ronge, senior account executive, at PR agency Skywrite:
“I work in PR because as soon as I found out exactly what PR is, I couldn't imagine myself doing anything else! I used to think I wanted to be a journalist, but couldn’t figure out how to get into it. When I was 15, I did a week's work experience at the in-house PR department at Woolworth's head office, and thought I might like it as it was 'sort-of' journalist-focused. I completely fell in love with everything involved in my role there, and after that, I didn’t want to do anything else.

“I then set about doing as much work experience as I could, and I also applied for a summer internship at Hotwire (Skywrite's sister agency), but only got as far as the interviews. Hotwire said I needed a bit more experience, but recommended I apply for the graduate scheme when I was eligible. So, in my final year at university I worked one day a week (for free, of course) in the university union press office, learning as much as I could, as well as doing some work experience at a consumer agency in London for two weeks in the Christmas holidays.

“I applied for the graduate scheme at Skywrite and Hotwire, however the one I was really gunning for was Skywrite, as it was consumer focused. Since I started in September 2008, I haven't looked back.”

A logical move after a career in design and marketing

Jill Hawkins, director of PR agency Aniseed PR:
"I fell into PR about 14 years ago and absolutely love it. I started out as a designer, then moved into marketing and became a marketing manager for an international healthcare brand. We were using a PR agency, but it just couldn’t grasp our brand and was trying to steer us into holding a national competition that just didn't sit with our values. I got the distinct impression that this was the agency’s formula and if we didn't like it, then tough! So we fired the agency and I took the PR in house.

“It quickly became the best part of my job so I made the move to a PR agency and took a backwards step – from a marketing manager to a PR account executive – so I could learn the skills from the bottom. Three years after that in 1999 I set up Friday's Media Group with a business partner and then started Aniseed PR in 2009. PR gives me the creative outlet, coupled with a more problem solving approach. I also enjoy the variety of working across several clients within the same industry. It means that information or trends I glean from one client's work can be used to create angles for another client too.”

Why you should never ignore a careers department recommendation…

Ross Furlong, founder of digital PR agency Furlong PR:
“The careers department at my university did one of those appraisals where you answer a hundred questions about yourself and the recommendations pop out at the end. Mine recommended PR so I went along to an IPR presentation for graduates to find out what it was all about. After two hours of presentations I was none the wiser so I went off and became an accountant instead.

“More than ten years later, via a circuitous route including stints running a magazine business and freelance journalism, I had the chance to start a new business. To decide what it should be, I ran a version of the careers department appraisal on myself – what do you like doing, what are you good at, etc. The answer came out again as PR.

“So I began my PR career. I only wish I'd got into it earlier.”

Soundbites

Why did you decide to work in PR?

Chris Klopper, CEO of agency Mulberry Marketing Communications:
“The money was better than journalism, the benefits more attractive, and opportunities for advancement clearer.”

Yvonne McQueen, retired PR consultant:
"I originally worked in sales promotion, and did a small amount of internal PR. When I was made redundant, I decided that PR was the route I wanted to take. I worked as a freelance PR consultant, with clients in the marketing services sector. I loved it, met some great people and it was fun, interesting and wide-ranging”

Pete Roythorne, freelance consultant:
“Doesn't everybody just fall into everything purely and simply because they failed to do what they actually wanted to ... or is that just me ... and all the other people I seem to work with?”

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