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Guest post: A public relations student in Paris

Student Jonathan Kerr spotted via Twitter that I was working in Paris last week. He sent me a cheeky tweet asking if there was any chance of meeting-up for a quick chat during a break from his work placement. I liked his style. We had a beer in Montmartre and in return he wrote this blog on his view of the profession that he’s chosen as his future career.

By Jonathan Kerr

I’ll be honest from the outset; I’ve not got a PR background. I didn’t know, at the age of 18, that PR was where I wanted to be. I didn’t go to one of the excellent universities that offer courses in PR.

Instead I did French and that led to me finding myself in a little town just outside Paris working in a graduate school.

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Before I left, I joined a small PR firm in north London. I spent two weeks there and sweated like never before. We were in a small room which, from the temperature, apparently sat over the mouth of Hell. It was hardly Ab Fab, but it was enough to give me the bug.

Since then I’ve done my best to reach out and get contacts, and it turns out it’s actually as easy as picking up the phone and talking to people.

My mobile phone tweets, emails, Facebooks, Pinterests, Instagrams and turns nouns into verbs, which is pretty handy for sentences like that. It also means I’ve got access to everyone in this industry, and realising that was the key.

Everyone you look up to is available, and they are a lot nicer than you’ve ever imagined. Social media are changing the way we interact, and if you’re like me you grew up with it. Use it.

I’ve managed to find a two-week internship at the top of the industry as well as scoring meetings with people like Stephen. And a pint. Don’t knock the pint, Parisian prices start somewhere in the stratosphere and then increase.

I wholeheartedly believe that this is because PR people recognise that communication is key and if you can communicate well you can do anything.

In addition to those little victories, I’m also working with the school’s own marketing department, helping where I can with translations and cultural knowledge.

What I’ve learnt from this time abroad is that a different language is not just a different language: it’s a whole different way of thinking and speaking.

Agencies hoping to expand from Europe to the Anglophone world – and vice-versa – would do well to consider graduates with bi- or tri-lingual skills.

Finally, I’m writing every day.

Ostensibly it’s to let my mum know I’m okay, but interestingly it’s really forced me to look around every day and think: “Is anything I’m doing interesting, and if not, why not? How can I present my brand in a positive light?”

So what next? PR is evolving everywhere simultaneously, and having experienced the European model I’m eager to explore the rest of the world.

Having conquered Paris, I’m hoping to follow the route of the statue that sailed from here in 1885. The statue was called La Liberté éclairant le monde, but you’ll know her better as Lady Liberty.

That’s right. I want to make it like the Beatles, Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan. Next stop, the US.

About the Author
jonathan-keerJonathan Kerr is a student at Aberdeen University currently on work placement in Paris. You can connect with Jonathan via Twitter (@jonodrew) and his blog.

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Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.

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