The three pronged approach to getting your first – or better – PR job


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I recently organised a workshop with some of the promising PR students I work with, with kind inputs from my own recruitment manager at Weber Shandwick and some professional PR recruiters/headhunters from Hanson Search’s PR division. I’ve pulled the gist of a top quality hour into a blog post. students-hands-up-1000x574 Here’s a summary of the three pronged approach. 1) CV – No more than two pages. No photo necessary. Start with a short personal statement, then education, then any PR work experience or internships or other work experience, then hobbies and interests, then references. Try and stand out but without being daft. No banana-shaped CVs! Highlight things you did that speak to your character – organising a sports team suggests you are a team player, running the debating society suggests you can string an argument together, writing for the student newspaper suggests you can write etc etc. If you send your
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A (n Aspirant) Writer’s Journey


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I recently took the decision on reaching sixty that I would give up a highly successful and lucrative senior role with the world’s second largest and most creatively awarded PR agency to pursue my dream of being a writer. Mad, some people have told me. To inject some discipline and learning into my random and chaotic attempts at having a writer’s life I enrolled on a part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Winchester, and am enjoying every minute. This week we had a real treat, when an alumni of the course, now with two successful, critically acclaimed and internationally published literary novels under her belt and a third in the wings: Claire Fuller (Swimming Lessons, Our Endless Numbered Days). Claire Fuller   Swimming Lessons, her latest book, is an intricately and beautifully structured reflection on family love and loss. I asked her if she knew her ending from the start.
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Why you should seriously consider leaving your PR agency


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When I first moved into PR consultancy 22 years ago, having previously worked in political communications, I was shocked to discover the lack of interest in insights, data and research within PR firms beyond the most rudimentary dip stick research designed to push whatever we were pitching. In politics we had every sound bite and slogan tested and focus grouped to within an inch of its life. Over the past decade, with the rise of digital communications and social media, and the new horizons that has brought to our industry, this has started to change. Many agencies have established planning and insights teams, bringing more diverse and science-based skills into our industry. (At Weber Shandwick we hired our first strategic planners well over a decade ago and have had our own research arm KRC for over three decades thanks to the political campaign heritage of the firm.) But many
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The Randomness of Life Giving Strangers


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IMG_1464  I was driving back from Heathrow earlier this week, where Britain’s highest temperature of the day was being recorded,  and I was stuck in traffic on the M25, sweltering in the still heat. The weather reporter on Radio Four was saying it was the hottest recorded temperature since the long hot summer of 1976. I was instantly transported back to a hot dusty road near Salford Docks, now Salford Quays with its Media City and designer apartments, walking back from grabbing a lunchtime sandwich to my summer job as a clerk in one of the engineering firms on the Ship Canal. Walking with me was my fellow summer temp jobber, a student. I was waiting for my A level results and the plan was, like most of my friends, to get enough grades to scrape into a low level white collar desk job, get a car and some decent
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Election thoughts


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In truth I spent more of the weekend immersed in the Isle of Wight Festival than politics, and colleagues at Weber Shandwick such as former May aide and Sky political guru Joey Jones have far better insights than me.  Neither as a New Labour refugee do I have any insights into Corbyn’s strategy – if there was much of one. So I will stick to what impressed and heartened me personally about the outcome of the campaign and what I see as positive for British politics. There are four things that struck me about the outcome and things that personally give me hope. 1 Youth Engagement Even with the big Facebook voter registration drive in 2015, the 18-24 year old turnout on polling day remained depressingly low at 43%. Although it is too early to assess the specific youth voter turnout last week, there are clear trends of increased
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Living in spin


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After thirty six years in PR and communications, and nearly twenty three years with my firm Weber Shandwick, my boss Andy Polansky and I announced yesterday my stepping down from the firm and PR in early 2018. For me it was a mix of excitement about the future and focussing on my family and my personal creative projects, and sadness at leaving such a great firm, team and industry. WeberShandwick.EDU.lnk Having failed to make a living as a music journalist and new wave poet (oh yes) I fell into PR thanks to my first boss Barry Walsh (then head of PR for The Automobile Association and now a published novelist, and still an inspiration to me). new wave poet As a working class Northerner who didn’t even know what PR was (and didn’t possess a driving licence) it was a lucky break in the graduate unemployment hit 1980s. That break taught me a valuable
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A SLOG (short blog) on technology


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Today we are fascinated by the dizzying pace of change. The Internet is the new Industrial Revolution. Wired is as influential as The Economist. Brands like Uber, Facebook, Ocado, Tinder, dominate our lives. Brilliantly innovative technology companies with cars, cat videos, groceries and casual sex attached. What we once read as niche, inky, badly spelled, loss-making newspapers are now 100m reader-strong (still loss-making) global media platforms. The new iPhone is celebrated with more excitement and media coverage than a groundbreaking new drug that will save millions (or, I suspect, the Second Coming). Cannes is as much a tech event as a creative awards showcase. IMG_0932 Yes we live at an exciting time, and we are very clever. But get this. In just three short years, 1895 to 1897, three groundbreaking discoveries occurred. X-rays, radioactivity and the electron. The second winning the first Nobel Prize for a woman, Marie Curie. Three years. Continue reading "A SLOG (short blog) on technology"

Social customer service


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In all the excitement about Twitter – a gift to gobby Mancunians everywhere – over its short life to date, some marketeers quickly cottoned on to its potential for enhancing or even replacing existing customer service infrastructure. Why have expensive human beings sitting around just waiting for calls and drinking the firm’s terrible coffee, or customers forced to listen to shit jazz while they wait half an hour as some bit of AI tells them they are sorry about the wait, you are a deeply valued customer etc, then connects you to a bad line in outer Mongolia and they hang up on you, when you could manage it more instantaneously and engagingly (and cheaply) via Twitter. Bit like…..why have all that messy democracy and the expense of a bunch of suits on private jets and big shouty White House press conferences when you can have some old bigot
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Life, love, loss, death and movies


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Despite once having tried to earn a crust reviewing gigs, plays and movies, I don’t write much about movies. These days the telly has writing like those two greats, the first respective episodes of The Sopranos and The Affair, so less need for movies. But Arrival impressed me so much I am still chewing it over. The best stories do that. They resonate and reverberate. An instantly  forgotten story, a confection once tasted soon mentally discarded,  is a poor story.

I say best story. It wasn’t the best film. After a brilliant opening scene that could have fronted any genre of movie – five minutes of brilliant writing which is a mini movie in itself – it developed into an intelligent but occasionally hackneyed movie: a hundred and twenty years on from the publication of War of the Worlds by HG Wells, aliens are still being served up as things

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It’s my party and I’ll rant if I want to


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In a marketing industry obsessed with youth, it is probably career and social suicide to admit THAT I JUST HAD MY SIXTIETH BIRTHDAY. There, I said it. Do I feel any different? Apart from the proverbial one day closer to death, no. But that’s not how many marketeers see it. Cue spam emails and direct mail shots on everything from retirement and inheritance planning to erectile dysfunction. As one of my planners put it, we do like to put people in boxes.
Aged sixty. Couldn't possibly be a model

Aged sixty. Couldn’t possibly be a model

My favourite wearable brands include Adidas (68 years old), Ben Sherman (54 years old) and Paul Smith (opened first shop almost fifty years ago). My favourite brand in the world is Gibson (the company is 115 years old and the Les Paul is an old age pensioner at 65). Your body clock doesn’t click over another year and suddenly you are
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It’s my party and I’ll rant if I want to


This post is by colinblog from Byrne Baby Byrne


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




In a marketing industry obsessed with youth, it is probably career and social suicide to admit THAT I JUST HAD MY SIXTIETH BIRTHDAY. There, I said it. Do I feel any different? Apart from the proverbial one day closer to death, no. But that’s not how many marketeers see it. Cue spam emails and direct mail shots on everything from retirement and inheritance planning to erectile dysfunction. As one of my planners put it, we do like to put people in boxes.
Aged sixty. Couldn't possibly be a model

Aged sixty. Couldn’t possibly be a model

My favourite wearable brands include Adidas (68 years old), Ben Sherman (54 years old) and Paul Smith (opened first shop almost fifty years ago). My favourite brand in the world is Gibson (the company is 115 years old and the Les Paul is an old age pensioner at 65). Your body clock doesn’t click over another year and suddenly you are
Over sixty. Couldn't possibly be creative
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Grim oop North?


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I have been in communications for for 35 years and a PR agency for 22 of those years, so there is little in the way of Ad Fab bollocks,  pretentious nonsense and plain common sense dressed up as earth shattering and internet breaking, that takes me by surprise any more. But an article by the Chief Strategy Officer of O&M in Campaign magazine this week had me alternatively rolling around laughing and rolling my eyes in despair. blog His analysis – that  Brexit was a shock to the London and metropolitan establishment, and that increasingly the opinion elite are out of touch  with what people outside South West and North London (or the Groucho Club) are thinking and experiencing – is correct. I heard similar from senior editors at The Economist a few weeks back. But “planning in the wild”, getting “out there” and sticking nice middle class planners on trains Continue reading "Grim oop North?"

Eurobest


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Had an interesting experience at the Eurobest Festival of European Creativity, the European arm of the Cannes Lions Festival, recently in Rome. I was hosting an ‘in conversation’ session with economist and broadcaster Dr Noreena Hertz on our work together and her research on Gen K (or Gen Z – 14-21 year olds). Noreena spoke with insight and eloquence on the difference between this generation and their slightly older Millenial brothers and sisters (see www.webershandwick.co.uk for more details on our Gen K insights work).eurobest2 High on her agenda was GenK’s fear of debt, and very different relationship with brands.

Literally the next session after was on another generational issue, where my IPG colleague Nicky Bullard, chair and CCO of MRM-Meteorite, spoke passionately on “Ageism, our shocking idiotic prejudice.” She kicked off with a series of short films from multi-award-winning advertising creative gurus saying “you won’t hire

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Back to the future?


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katniss_everdeenI talked to a class of final year PR students this week. As I was setting up I heard one girl wail “Trump, Putin, we’re all going to die!” She was 21. A first year Gen Z-der so to speak. As you might have read, my firm has partnered with the wonderful Dr Noreena Hertz to bring greater insights into this circa 16-21 year old demographic – that Noreena has dubbed Gen K (for Katniss)  – to clients. Many in marketing seem to think they are just younger and lower paid Millennials. Big mistake. While many Millennials had their early life experience forged in pre-financial crash times, Gen Z/K have grown up with global financial, political and security concerns, and have come of age in the “post truth politics” world of Trump, Corbyn, Farage, Le Pen, with ISIS, Russian foreign policy and AI threatening their todays and tomorrows. I Continue reading "Back to the future?"

Yet another Bowie blog


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Soz. But I just started reading Paul Morley’s new biog of Bowie – subtitle “How David Bowie made a world of difference” – and I was struck by a line in his expansive preface: “everyone has their own David Bowie. So many Bowie’s: how do you keep up with them …as he constantly, provocatively moves somewhere else and becomes someone else?” IMG_0304 My David Bowie was – is – the key creative influence all my teenage and adult life. From mid teens hair style’s to being influenced by “Low” in my ‘later years’ to buy a synthesiser and start to create tonal landscapes. But the most intensive “My David Bowie” period was my early to late teens, when two musical and cultural influences collided in a blaze of colour, creativity, attitude and noise – Bowie and punk. (Ironically, as a wannabe punk poet who would clamber on stage between sets Continue reading "Yet another Bowie blog"

Douglas Slocombe’s chair


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My family spent a few days on the north Norfolk coast recently. One day we went to nearby Burnham Market for lunch. The little town is a bit like Islington on Sea in terms of the shops and visitors. Turns out that every Monday during the summer they have an open air auction on the green. As I wandered around the second hand bikes and lawn mowers, and boxes of bric a brac being eyed up by a throng of car boot sellers, I came across a couple of old canvas director’s chairs folded and leaning unloved against a tree in the shade. Opening up the least worm eaten and rickety, I saw the following legend carefully hand written in fading letters:

Douglas Slocombe, Lighting Cameraman.2C7ABBBF-159A-416D-9BFD-9C68EEDD43BB

As a cinematography nerd in my teens, I knew exactly who he was, and assumed others would as well. I was excited. Douglas Slocombe Continue reading "Douglas Slocombe’s chair"

The business of business


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I know of a PR agency leader who walked into a training session for a group of rising star staff and asked them who had read their client’s annual report and who knew their client’s share price that morning. Few if any hands went up. They were all experts in the PR needs of their client, but didn’t really know the business of their client’s business. Understanding of the business of business varies across the PR and marketing mix. Advertising has always been close to the business issues of their clients, and their relationships have been at CEO and CMO level. As the PR consulting industry pivots more to the marketers who focus on ROI and selling stuff, and moves up the ladder within business (well over half of Fortune 500 CCO’s in EMEA now report directly to the CEO and/or main board) we too need staff who are hungry Continue reading "The business of business"

Creativity and contradictions on La Croisette


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If you want to read insightful comment on creativity and innovation at Cannes 2016, please read the posts on the Weber Shandwick EMEA blog from my creative colleagues. If you want to read the random thoughts of a sleep deprived (thanks Daily Mail yacht, ya bastards) old PR lag, read on. So, my 7th Cannes Festival of Creativity and it was the biggest, baddest, boldest yet. With Health Lions at one end, and the new Entertainment Lions at the other, the festival is creeping into being a mind exploding week and a half of new ideas, creativity, innovation, VR, AR, big data pyrotechnics and great work from every corner of the world and every sector. And rosé. Lots of bloody rosé. (I arrived and headed as always for the screens in the Work Zone. I had a seven year itch. The PR category was dominated by ad agencies again. Didn’t
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Bowie and Creativity


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I have blogged before on this so will try not to repeat myself. I had the pleasure of hosting Channel 4 News’ Jon Snow in our London offices yesterday, via our support for The Media Trust. The previous night he had written an eloquent and much read and shared blog on “The incredible creative life force that was David Bowie”. JS Bowie Book (4) When I heard the news of Bowie’s untimely death early Monday, I was genuinely grief stricken. I felt a bright light in my creative life had gone out. Bowie had been a creative inspiration to me since at 15, sat in the family living room in a grey industrial Northern town, I saw him perform Starman in that epic, life changing four minutes on TOTP. He brought colour, creativity, rebellion into an otherwise largely colourless Britain. This morning I listened to Hunky Dory, the album on which he first found
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How the “outsiders” upped British creativity in marketing as well as music, literature and film in the 1960′s and ’70s


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I am indebted to the brilliant contemporary British historian and storyteller Dominic Sandbrook and his excellent new history of British creative industries, “The Great British Dream Factory” (Allen Lane) for this post on creativity through diversity. 61b4DvnEM1L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ I, we, talk a lot about diversity in our PR industry. A lot of our focus, rightly, is on greater gender equality. Indeed my firm has just published (embed link to the research on the .co.uk website) new research which looks at gender as a new driver of corporate reputation. In advertising The 3% Conference  – see below – has highlighted that until recently only that tiny percentage of advertising creative directors were women, and now thanks to their campaigning that’s up to 11% and rising. I am also focused on racial and social diversity, the subject of previous blog posts and action by the PRCA, The Taylor Bennett Foundation and others. Sandbrook
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