Coming up to the end of my internship with Aura PR, looking back on the new skills I’ve picked up and experiences I’ve had would seem appropriate. When moving forward, if you can’t measure and evaluate what you’ve just done then what’s the point of doing it? One of the many things I have learned through my time here. I’ve had a hugely enjoyable adventure over the past 6 weeks and the time really has flown! I’ve worked across multiple old and new digital mediums including Twitter, MailChimp online marketing service and Umbraco, a content management system (CMS). Working with multiple clients on multiple tasks has been exhilarating and challenging (in a good way of course!). That said, I’m going to briefly outline some of what I have learned in the hope of communicating to other prospective PR students (the ones I wrote about in my earlier blog), some ways they can get further involved with public relations.
The largest piece of work I’ve been working on this summer has been the West End Festival (WEF) which comes to Glasgow’s west end every summer with over 400 events across 80 venues (I can’t tell you how many times I have typed those figures for content!) For the month of June, Glasgow was hectic with thousands of visitors flocking to ‘#WEF2015’, so being part of the PR team was a real exercise in hitting the ground running! For the WEF I wrote press releases to send to the media, supplying them with ‘newsworthy’ information they would use in an announcement, guest blogs for the updates section of the website and live reports from events on social media. All of these forms of written communication require very different styles, and demand different types of information to be included in them. Press releases are to be succinct with quotes from key parties involved and have a clear newsworthy angle whereas blogs are more reflective and personal and the live reports are a mixture of the two. Getting to grips with these styles was initially difficult to grasp – I’m pretty sure my first press release went through around 4 drafts before it was in any decent shape! Learning from this trial and error however, meant I could pick up these communication styles relatively quickly.
The WEF was also my first experience in media relations, for example calling the news desk of the Evening Times to follow up on a press release or media invitation. This again was a different style of communication to pick up. Major news outlets are, as you can imagine, very busy, so when you phone them you better know what you want, who to speak to in order to get it and their contact details if you need to reach them again.
All the members of press I met face to face were great, interesting people and it was quite surreal in a way to see photos being taken which appeared in the papers the next day across the nation. I assisted in organising an opportunity for press to come and photograph the workshop for the WEF parade before the festival launch that coming weekend (every year the festival is opened with a huge street parade with 100s of performers in costumes). Costume designers, the Parade Co-ordinator and festival Chairman were present to engage with the media with activities such as interviews, photo opportunities and news stories.
Content is incredibly relevant in PR in the sense that it can be used and displayed through multiple mediums to manage reputation. In some cases it is keeping content out of the public eye which is important but either way the organisation of what goes where and to whom plays a role in reputation management. I see it as one big game of chess: to win, all the pieces have to be in the right place at the right time and it’s your job as a PR professional to make sure they are. These events are also a great place to network and meet members of the press you might be working with again!
Another, and completely different client I assisted with, was Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group; an organisation set up to facilitate conversations and collaborations for businesses across Scotland to help reduce carbon emissions in Scotland. The group had charged Aura with the organisation of their summit and although a corporate client, and different to WEF, the same principles applied in the sense everybody had to be in the right place at the right time for the event to be a success. My role was to research the key speakers and their presentations in order to generate content to use on the live Twitter wall, which I was also manning. The wall was a large screen at the front of the lecture theatre and I had to make sure that content was constantly on show from people who were live tweeting along with the event from around the world as well as uploading my own. Having never used Twitter in this way before it was fascinating to see how a discussion can take place on it between business leaders and other interested parties in real-time across the world.
Aura also works with The Lighthouse, Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture. I don’t have the most informed knowledge regarding design and architecture so when writing press releases for The Lighthouse, I had to do a lot of research. When working with many clients across a variety of industries, it can be difficult to know exactly what you need to for any given task. To produce strong content you need to do research – another big thing I have learned over my 6 weeks. An exhibit opening featuring Australia’s Glenn Murcutt was an interesting project where I had the opportunity to do lots of research and write a sizeable blog piece about something I would have otherwise known nothing about! While this was happening, the posters and graphics for the exhibition’s promotion had to be produced and distributed, adhering to a strict deadline and watching this process package together this architect and his works and then tell the city about it was great to see and be part of.
As well as working with clients, my internship has afforded me many great opportunities such as going to the ‘Boost Your Business’ event which I blogged about. Take a read to learn how paying to boost your business is now essential.
Now, working on the evaluation of the West End Festival, I am learning how to evaluate using data and analytics like Google analytics and Facebook insights to name a few. I’ve read up on the Barcelona principles of measurement to understand how PR can truly be measured. The more money you pay for an advert doesn’t mean better coverage so truly evaluating the PR for WEF was based on many more indicators than I would have thought. Today I have been finishing off the now beefy document having a much greater appreciation for number crunching and statistical analysis! More than anything however, Aura and my MD Laura, has allowed me an insight into the real world of PR which is so difficult to come by as a student. I had an amazing six weeks and couldn’t ask for a better start in what will hopefully be my future profession!
For other students looking to get involved with PR, I would suggest looking up any agencies around you – I started my journey with Aura by initially replying to a tweet advertising the vacancy! Social media is the PR’s playground so get into it if you’re not already. Read plenty, and even write some blogs – it’s great practice for content generation and something I wish I had taken up earlier. Even subscribe to news publications like PR Week or The Holmes Report and definitely check out the CIPR student membership package and all the resources which come with the low sticker price! With all that, keep your eyes peeled, finger on the pulse and you’ll soon find some work experience or an internship generating strong and creative content for clients. At least this is what I’m telling myself!