Thursday, 9 February 2017

It’s stress Jim, but not as we know it

On my sixth anniversary of being a freelance PR...
Boldly splitting infinitives


The evolution continues: from lone freelancer, to collaborator, to creating the collective to now (albeit cloud-based) looking like a proper little PR agency with around eight retained clients and working with a regular crew of four senior and two junior PRs.

We all had a team meet a few weeks back and a common thread was the lack of stress around the job. (And yet when you go freelance it feels positively perilous, I still remember the early weeks lying in the dark staring at the ceiling mentally muttering g ‘oh god I think I’ve ruined my career’).

But what the crew were referring to is the complete lack of that type of stress that distracts you from getting the job done: someone checking on your timekeeping, the commute, the juggling of personal appointments, the annual leave quotas, the pre-occupation with promotions, job titles and perks, the jockeying for position, the vying for the boss's favour - there is none of that.

The only stress is that of doing a good job for the client.

But here’s the thing - when you work for yourself the sense of ownership and personal responsibility is absolute, so every project, without exception, has to go well, in fact better than well, it has to be the very best you can get it.

So that client stress goes deep.

And even though at ‘the crowd’ we share everything, it’s still all too easy for perfect storms to occur… Like when in the space of one week we had not one but two of our beloved start-ups announcing funding, which in our world is a huge deal and requires an immense amount of logistics and planning, working with all the financial PR agencies, the fund providers and pitching to media in multiple sectors. And as luck would have it, in the same week it was end of module live assessment time for the class I teach at Uni… Nothing to be done but to disappear under the strain for six weeks and know you aren’t coming up for air until every stone is turned. And possibly I was a bit over  emotional at the end of it.

So yes, freelancing can be stressful, but the sense of ownership, and of personal pride in work well done without any of the friction that comes with a ‘proper’ job, continues to make the freelance life entirely net positive.



If you want to read of how the other years went you may enjoy these posts too:

year 5
year 4
year 3
year 2
year 1
month 1



Image credit: Publicity photo of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner as Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk from the television program Star Trek. NBC Television. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.



Wednesday, 4 January 2017

What makes a standout PR candidate?

In addition to Comms Crowd, I am an associate lecturer in PR at several universities, 
Focus if you want to do well in interview
contributing to the Professional Employability modules.

Recently we conducted externally-invigilated panel interviews for every student for a hypothetical 
intern or junior role depending on their experience in PR, advertising, marketing events etc. There were two panels each panel interviewed 30 students in a day - intense.

So you get a very succinct view of qualities that work in interview: Here were the ones that worked best for me:

IMMERSED - Those that could clearly demonstrate a calling for the industry, enjoyed discussing campaigns and liked watching how stories played out in the media. These candidates were able to demonstrate a very proactive choice of careers, almost a vocation and we loved talking to these guys, they were one of us already.

ENGAGE - Those that liked engaging with us were open and seemed to enjoy the process, This really stands you in good stead when so many candidates seem reluctant to even be in the room and the interviewer feels more like a dentist trying desperately to extract information, than a would be employer, .

TUNED IN - Finally those that demonstrated a (quiet) resolve, an innate understanding they had this one moment to convince us that they had the attitude, the attributes, the experience and skills to easily fit in a team and capably do a good job. Those that were successful substantiated passion with knowledge, balanced confidence with credibility, openness with professionalism and demonstrated a positive rationale.They did not get distracted by their nerves, let the occasion overwhelm them, nor lose their way in an effort to become our NBFs, but just resolved to take that opportunity to show us the best of themselves with every answer. In short they had FOCUS.


But if these are not key qualities for you the great comfort of course is most all PR firms don't rely on interview alone and applicants are given the opportunity to match the talk with the walk, demonstrating their skills and abilities in a variety of tests from proof-reading, pitching, aptitude tests, copy writing etc - and then it of course becomes a very level playing field. Hurrah!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Why the PR Industry is increasingly turning to freelancers

Sharing this recent article from PR Moment to which I also contributed, Ref Brexit, can't speak for the rest of the industry but my crew of freelancers have never been busier. In an uncertain market, you need to make sure your PR budget is is invested in PR talent, not a nice reception area.

The PR industry is more dependent on freelancers than ever