While I’ve just finished my second year studying Journalism and PR I am currently at a crossroads on where my future lies within the PR industry. Feeling like I ‘mostly’ know what I’m doing I thought the best way to answer my question was to gain work experience in the global firm Grayling, starting at the top and all that.
Whenever I meet anyone in the industry they always ask me what sector I’d like to go into or what I want to specialise in? The truth is you can’t decide that in the classroom but Grayling has helped me find my place in the PR world.
During my two weeks I have been able to gain experience across various sectors so I could find out where I fit best. I have been able to see the different components which go into different campaigns and I’ve had the opportunity to work across a variety of accounts, from Retail to Banking, as well as lending a helping hand for potential new clients.
I thought I might spend the whole placement researching journalists and cold calling (the dreaded stereotypes of PR placements) but I’ve found that this is a great agency to live out my creative dreams in an office environment. What I’ve enjoyed most is creating content for various social media channels and the freedom the team has given me whilst doing so. I’ve had to learn how to adopt a corporate tone one day and a tongue and cheek humorous tone the next – all while remaining in the 140 character count!
I’ve also found the research tasks I’ve been set have helped me with my PR skills as it’s not something I regularly do at University. After it seemed there was nothing on the entire internet about a specific subject I was researching, the team were great in suggesting techniques to find relevant info which I know will last my entire career.
The Bristol team have been nothing short of amazing to me, there wasn’t the expectation that I knew everything but they gave me creative freedom on various projects, and were always making sure I was happy with what I was doing.
I’m extremely thankful to Grayling for giving me the hands on PR experience I need and not just using me for help with the photocopying! I’m sure you will all be happy to know that it has only taken two weeks here for me to finally decide that retail PR is the sector which I will be pursuing in the future!
We’ll see rapid changes in consumer behaviour, as the sharing economy mainstreams across markets. Nothing is sacred – expect new models for everything from finance to healthcare, as the next generation rips up the rule books and reimagines the future.
Reinventing the Wheel
As a highly respected and outspoken advocate of ‘first principles’, Elon Musk is channeling his inner-Aristotle, who first coined the term nearly 3,000 years ago.
Aristotle said that a first principle is the “first basis from which a thing is known” and that pursuing first principles is, ostensibly, the key to creating step-changes in thought and action.
In a 2012 interview, Musk gives a clear and concise description of Aristotle’s teachings:
- The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy… we are doing this because it’s like something else that was done or it is like what other people are doing… iterations on a theme.
- [With] first principles… you boil things down to the most fundamental truths and say, “What are we sure is true?” … and then reason up from there.
- Somebody could say, “Battery packs are really expensive and that’s just the way they will always be… Historically, it has cost $600 per kilowatt hour.”
- With first principles, you say, “What are the material constituents of the batteries? What is the stock market value of the material constituents?”
- It’s got cobalt, nickel, aluminum, carbon, some polymers for separation and a seal can. Break that down on a material basis and say, “If we bought that on the London Metal Exchange what would each of those things cost?”
- It’s like $80 per kilowatt hour. So clearly you just need to think of clever ways to take those materials and combine them into the shape of a battery cell and you can have batteries that are much, much cheaper than anyone realizes.
It’s that thinking that helped Musk (and the team) create and develop PayPal and has been integral in his pursuit of Space X and Tesla. It is also the kind of thinking that has led to the development of Uber, AirBnB, KickStarter, Funding Circle and many, many more disruptive companies.
Many people have made causal connections to the development of the sharing economy to the idea of first principles. While there is myriad anecdotal evidence to support such assumptions, the history and heritage of first principles mean that it is unfounded.
That said, it is safe to posit that the increase in availability of connective technology will bring about an acceleration in such innovation and thinking.
Let’s All Share
The roll-out of UberPool demonstrates how people are searching for different value exchanges… The sharing economy has disrupted many notions of ownership beyond recognition.
From Millennials and beyond, the paradigm has shifted away from antiquated notions of ownership and toward the concept of access. Access to experiences, to people, to information, to ideas.
The use of open source R&D was something that powered SpaceX and later drove Tesla. What Gen X talked about during their wellness retreats, the Millennials have brought to life; they have destroyed the illusion of ownership, thus beginning the end of the idea of a consumer and creating the paradigm of the user.
This shift will see a spike in combinatorial innovation, as users and brands remove the shackles of fixed thinking and start to fuse ideas and innovations from other fields and sectors.
The new ‘rock stars’ in business will be those who connect seemingly disparate ideas and make something fresh, or those who combine the best of two fields to solve a problem in an elegant manner.
One company doing the latter is Ossur, which recently trialed a mind-controlled prosthetic leg.
But the fun will come from those who push and play in equal measure. 3Doodler is one such company, creating a tool that allows for 3D printing technology to be placed in the palm of your hands, so that you can free draw sculptures in mid-air.
Play Left Field
Essentially, the take-away is this. Verticals should be viewed as ingredients in an ideas mixer. Blend them together in a shaker and see what concoctions you can make; some will be foul, but others could be the signature drink for years to come.
We recently welcomed English Literature student, Holly Davis-Grant, to do a two-week placement here in our Bristol office. Here’s what she had to say about her time with us…
Upon finishing my second year of university I had the sudden ‘uni-is-almost-over’ epiphany that I need to start climbing my way out of the warm and cosy university bubble and figure out what I want to do as a future career.
Not wanting to fall into the expected vocation of an English Literature graduate – teaching – I had to start looking at my options. I realised it was important to me to be able to incorporate a certain level of creativity into my job while still working in a business-like atmosphere. PR seemed like the natural fit for this, so I started looking online to see what I could find. After an informal chat with the lovely Julie she invited me to do two-weeks experience with the Bristol Grayling team. I was excited and actually a bit shocked as I didn’t think a big company like Grayling would take on work experience ‘first timers’ like me.
During the first morning commute my nerves kicked in and I started to worry about what kind of tasks I was going to do. I suddenly remembered the film ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and had visions of myself running through Cabot Circus with dry cleaning in one hand and an over-flowing tray of Starbucks in the other. I’m pleased to say this vision never came to life! In fact, it was quite the opposite. Julie met me at reception with a warm greeting and briefed me on the company and what kind of tasks I would be doing. She later gave me a tour of the office and gave me all the vital information – where the biscuit tin and coffee were kept!
Shortly after my arrival I was pleased to discover Grayling had prepared an efficient and handy timetable of all the tasks I would be doing over the next fortnight. Reading it over, I was pleasantly surprised at the types of things I would be doing – not a single coffee run or photocopying session in sight! During my two weeks I did a variety of tasks including putting together an editorial for a magazine, selling-in press releases to newspapers, booking bands for an event and creating content for social media. These were just a few of the many things I got to try out during my stay.
I was grateful for the amount of responsibility Grayling gave me and the sense of freedom I had whilst completing my tasks. I was lucky enough to work with almost all of the friendly staff in Grayling’s Bristol team and thankful for the varying scope of tasks they assigned me to do. The two weeks I spent with the company were a fantastic and eye-opening experience into the world of PR and have further cemented my motivation to work in the industry after I graduate.