We recently welcomed James Prescott to carry out a two-week work experience placement at our Grayling Bristol office.
Here James discusses his experiences and explains how pink tea and a military microwave queue aren’t the only qualities that make up a successful PR team.
Fumbling with the cling-film I had wrapped my teabags in, my mentor, Andree, calmly explained that there was no need to bring my own tea along, the offices had their own! And not just builders’ tea but chamomile, peppermint, green and something everybody simply referred to as ‘pink’, which upon later inspection turned out to be a raspberry based fruit concoction. Friends and family had warned that internships usually consisted of tea making and so I hoped to be well versed in its preparation.
Under normal circumstances I dread the awkward silence that pervades queues of workers scuffling to slam their lunchtime offerings in the microwave. But here conversation dances from business, to pleasure and back again before the gunpowder and honeysuckle teabag has time to infuse. The agency (and industry as a whole) thrives on the spoken and written word and these people are experts in their craft.
Before arrival I was under the impression that a steely exterior, immune to the supposed cold shoulder of the print journalist would have taken their toll. In reality, all and any requests from this intern were enthusiastically catered for with no hint of condescension. All briefs consisted of a meticulously constructed email with supplementary verbal explanation. Similar attention was paid to lessons in the art of press release writing – an intrinsic component of any aspiring PR’s arsenal.
The day of my first pitch to potential papers, the office was alive with the buzz of telephone conversations looking to ‘sell in’. A trembling voice and quivering hands accompanied the first few phone calls. My register oscillated violently after the first subject heckled me for calling the parent group rather than the publication itself; “Well why are you calling ME then!?” he barked before slamming down the phone in violent disregard.
Seeing Facebook and Twitter from an analytical perspective breathed new light into the way I viewed social media (or just ‘social’ as it’s known here). Exporting Facebook data to an excel spreadsheet to fill in a stats presentation for a client underlined, for me, the medium’s monumental importance in the business of getting noticed. Likes, posts, clicks, links and shares are turned into very real profits (and losses!).
Learning extended beyond the aspirational setting of the agency offices on the fourth floor of the Royal London Buildings in Bristol’s centre. Suddenly I was questioning the origin and motive of the story in front of me in the Metro paper on the bus home. Who really wrote this? And what were they actually trying to get across?
Two weeks insight had answered several questions and left me wanting to learn more. It was a pleasure working alongside such accommodating individuals who were keen to see that my tailored experience was worthwhile. It was a true game changer to have the opportunity to experience the business edge of journalism (which Lord Chadlington, founder of Huntsworth PLC, cites as his reasoning for leaving journalism to pursue PR). Sadly, I’m not quite so enthusiastic about having to bring in my own teabags, to my normal day job, again next week
James Prescott – Work Experience