Getting hired and ahead in marketing and PR

Getting hired and ahead in marketing and PR

A blog about careers as told by eight marketing and PR practitioners in a workshop at Newcastle University.

We ran a session for  for PR students at Newcastle University last week on getting hired and getting ahead. Practitioners at varying stages of their career joined the session. They spoke about their first job and their career.

The wide-ranging discussion covered:

  • how to land your first job in PR;

  • the role of a PR practitioner;

  • the importance of continuous learning;

  • opportunities in the North East versus other areas of the country including London;

  • working for a start up versus a corporate organisation;

  • the importance of mental health and culture.

My thanks to our speakers Danielle Whitfield; Christian Cerisola; Radu Firanescu; Sarah-Jayne Taylorson; Helen Fussell; Ivan Lazarov; Ross Wigham; and Dawn Tudge. Here are their stories.

Content creation and relationships

Danielle Whitfield started her career as a journalist at a news agency called North News and Pictures. Her time creating editorial content for consumer and national media led to a job at Newcastle Airport.

No two days are the same at the busy airport press office according to Danielle. Her role ranges from drafting reactive statements to working on campaigns for press and social media.

Danielle emphasised the need to be able to manage multiple stakeholders.

“Day to day I work closely with the Senior Leadership Team and Directors on a range of projects. There are 300 people working for the airport and more than 3,000 people on the site working for airlines and retailers,” she said.

Danielle Whitfield, Media and Public Affairs Executive, Newcastle Airport

Northern boomerang: brands to Newcastle

Christian Cerisola was motivated to move into PR after working for a provincial newspaper and receiving poorly targeted pitches.

He described breaking a story about a pornographic video pirating ring. Sales of the newspaper rocketed but the editor was deluged with complaints and called time on hardnosed reporting.

Christian headed to London to work at an agency called Freuds before heading back north to work for a local agency.

He set up his own business before heading up W North. It’s a brand led agency that was keen to break out of the London bubble and build a team in the North East. The agency works for clients including Lynx, Levi’s and Marmite.

Christian Cerisola, Head, W North

Start ups require self starters but offer opportunity for broad experience

Radu Firanescu landed his first job after attending a Newcastle University Business School networking event when he was studying for his Masters in Communication and Media Studies.

He joined a five-person start up called Tea Venture and has had the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills.

“There’s an opportunity for rapid progression in a small company and learn lots of different things. I’ve worked on communications, marketing and sales.”

Radu described how he’d needed to get to grips with a wide range of tools and social media.

He cited Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Photoshop, Mailchimp and video production as sought after skills.

Radu Firanescu, Digital Marketing Associate, Tea Venture

Relationships lead to jobs

Sarah-Jayne Taylorson completed a series of media work placements during her first degree at Northumbria University. It spurred her interest in PR and she joined the Masters in International PR course at Newcastle working for a local agency along the way.

Her first job was working as a social media marketing executive on behalf of a group of hotels in the Lake District.

Sarah-Jayne’s passion for the North East brought her back to Newcastle and landed a copywriting with a nationwide jewellery company based in Newcastle.

She urged students to be relentless in pursuit of a job but not settle for a workplace with a poor culture.

“Always address applications to a person. Call first before sending a letter and CV, it’s a good way to build an initial relationship,” said Sarah-Jayne.

Sarah-Jayne Taylorson, Copywriter, Roxoa Group

Passion pays off in the quality of work

Helen Fussell is an independent marketing and PR practitioner who specialises in arts and culture.

She described how she created a role for herself at Northern Stage by proactively suggesting press engagement for upcoming shows five years ago.

Helen urged students to follow their interests. “PR is an industry where you can work in any sector so find one that you enjoy and make it a passion.”

That passion drives bravery and pays off in bold creative ideas that make a difference.

She’s motivated by working on projects that can make a difference for their community and audiences.

She encouraged students to hone skills in creativity, storytelling and pitching.

Helen Fussell, independent practitioner

Building internal and external relationships 

Ivan Lazarov is a former student who landed an internship while studying his Masters in Media and Public Relations at Newcastle.

His first project was an internal communications project to roll out information and promotion content to screens around campus.

Ivan joined the six person media team at the university. He builds relationships with media and university student and academics.

Ivan taught himself to learn to use production and video. “Self learning and continuous development is critical,” he said.

Ivan Lazarov, Media Relations Manager, Newcastle University

Putting the relationship in public relations

Ross Wigham cites his publics as 200,000 people and 4,200 employees. He works for the NHS Foundation Trust in Gateshead. It also provides screening services to a population of up to seven million people across the country.

He talked about the importance of relationships in PR practice.

“We see people at the happiest and saddest times in their lives. The fundamental is building relationships.”

Ross started his career in the media 30 years ago as a paperboy. It’s a tongue in cheek comment but he said that it genuinely inspired a life long interest in media.

After studying at Leicester, he headed to London to work as a journalist before returning north as a freelancer and then moving into the public sector.

Ross Wigham, Head of Communications and Marketing, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust

Don’t be afraid to call time on poor culture

Dawn Tudge is an ad planner turned marketing and PR practitioner.

She started work in Manchester based ad agencies before moving to a marketing role at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in Newcastle.

The DWP role led to an agency role focused on the Higher Education sector before joining the Newcastle University press office.

Dawn urged students to seek out as many opportunities as possible but to avoid organisations with poor culture.

“We work in a stressful industry. If an organisation doesn’t work for you recognise it and move on.”

Dawn Tudge, Media Relations Manager, Newcastle University

Thanks to my colleague Ramona Slusarczyk for her feedback on the initial draft of this blog post.

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