Graduate story: Emma Lumley PR Account Executive at Bottle

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 Emma shares her story of how hard work and a little bottle can land you a job in PR

I graduated from the University of Sunderland in 2016 with a degree in Magazine Journalism. After I graduated, I started looking for a job in August after going away to Italy for a month. I wasn’t 100% sure if I wanted to go into journalism, and the idea of marketing and PR did appeal to me so I kept my options open.

As I had moved to Oxford after graduating, I was able to look for jobs in London, however it would be a pretty long commute for a first job. There were quite a few jobs that I applied for, probably between 25 and 30, and these varied from writing jobs, to marketing roles at charities and larger companies based in Oxford. My first interview was at a maritime PR agency, I fitted the bill perfectly, and it did look like a good job, except I had no knowledge of the maritime industry and to be honest, I think that I would’ve grown to really dislike that industry. After my two interviews there, I didn’t hear from that agency so used that time to continue my search. I came across a PR and communications agency called Bottle and emailed their HR manager with my CV. Within a few days I heard back from her, and she let me know that as I had no experience in PR, they couldn’t offer me a role at the time.

With this little knock back, I replied asking if I could come in part time or for a couple of days to see how the company worked. And sure enough, I was lucky enough to be offered a two-week internship at Bottle. I started this towards the end of September – almost two months after I began searching. I had previously interned at two London magazines, and I think this drive is was what made me take the knock back well and to get an internship out of it.

At the end of my internship at Bottle, I was then offered the chance to be interviewed for the publisher (account executive) role. Even though I had been there for two weeks, I still had the full interview process and writing test to go through before I was offered the job!

My job is different every single day. Some days I am selling in news stories to the press for clients, other days I’m focused on social media, and more recently, I have seen my first charity campaign launch – right from the pre-pitch process. Each aspect of the job is equally rewarding and challenging at the same time. Some days in order to get tasks completed, it can mean getting into the office early and staying late, but it is all definitely worth it as the results show all of the hard work that has been put in.

For students graduating now, my advice would be to not focus on a very specific job when you’re applying, broaden your horizons to give yourself more of a chance. And also, if you do get a rejection, make sure you ask for feedback and if possible, see if there is another way they can accommodate you in the company!

 

My 5 top tips for getting into PR :

1. Be prepared to work hard. Especially when you first start, you really need to show your employer your strengths early on!

2. Do your research. Read PR Week magazine to stay in the loop – and make sure you research the company interviewing you before the interview. It’s always good to have a bit of background knowledge under your belt.

3. Use LinkedIn. This is the best tool a budding PR can use, connect with all the contacts you meet – you never know when they’ll come in handy in your career!

4. Read the news. This seems obvious, but knowing what’s going on day to day is vital in public relations. I follow all the breaking news Twitter accounts, as well as accounts that are relevant to my clients. I look at Twitter before I get out of bed in the morning, so it’s the easiest way to stay informed!

5. Ask questions. If there’s something you don’t understand, then make sure you ask! As a graduate, you aren’t expected to know everything. And asking questions shows that you have an interest in a topic so well worth swallowing your pride!

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