Jun 22nd 2018

Looking for a career in PR? Q&A with Babel founder

Babel PR team

Exam season is well underway for students up and down the country. Many will already have a graduate job lined up and, after throwing up their mortarboard in celebration of their time at University, will quickly enter the world of work. However, there are many others who will be unsure of their next steps, and of the path they want their career to take.

A career in public relations can be an extremely rewarding one, but there are a lot of unknowns about starting life in the industry. I’ve addressed some of the most common, which will hopefully prove useful advice for potential graduates of the future.

1. How important is prior experience for graduates?

Obviously, prior experience can be an advantage. However, despite what some graduates think, we don’t look for new starters based on previous PR experience as much as previous life experience and transferable skills. Equally, we don’t expect new starters to have a vast knowledge of the technology or telecommunications industry, but a general interest in technology will definitely help.

2. What skills stand out when you’re looking for candidates?

Strong writing skills are something we really look out for, so essay-based subjects stand out on a CV, as do things like personal blogs or experience writing for a student newspaper. It’s also important for a candidate to be organised and able to work well in a team; you can often get a feel for those skills through a person’s hobbies, clubs they belong to and activities they take part in outside of studying or work. As well as this, we look for candidates who are confident picking up the phone and talking to journalists – but that’s something you can spot during an interview.

3. What’s working life in PR like?

Daily tasks can be quite varied depending on the needs of the client at a given time. Generally speaking though, working life is collaborative and fluid. We start each day by going over the day’s news before getting on with campaign tasks, which could be anything from drafting content, pitching in a story to the media, talking strategy with a client or clipping lots of coverage!

4. Are there many training opportunities?

We have a bespoke training programme, which in practice means we offer our team the chance to go on as many training courses as they like to further their skills. We believe continued personal and professional development is extremely important. For new starters we often suggest courses and webinars that help them find their feet, but they too have the freedom to pick particular topics that interest them.

5. How could a candidate impress during a graduate PR job interview?

My advice would be the same as with any job interview: come prepared having researched where you’re applying to. Interviewers don’t want to trip you up with trick questions, but you can always tell if a candidate has done their research before they arrive. I’d also just say be confident and conversational. Interviews aren’t meant to feel like an exam and it’s just as important to get a feel for a person and how they might fit into a workplace environment as it is to know their skills.

6. What advice do you have for candidates considering a career in B2B tech PR?

B2B tech PR has its own specific challenges. A lot of the clients we work with provide services that impact our daily lives in terms of how we use our phones and computers. I’d recommend always keeping on top of the news so you have a good idea of what’s going on in the tech world – and how this impacts current affairs more generally – and you’re ready to jump on a story if something breaks.

7. How quickly can someone progress?

The short answer is: very quickly. Progressing from an entry-level role is all about a person’s ability to adapt and get stuck-in. Some people take time to feel comfortable and that’s fine, but there are no barriers in terms of a minimum time someone has to stay at an entry-level position. If they show their skills and a willingness to suggest ideas and contribute, they can progress very quickly. We’ve had graduates progress after only a few months in the past.

8. Do you have a graduate scheme at Babel? What does it involve?

Yes, we do! Due to an increase in client work, Babel will recruit an additional two new graduates in 2018, ideally starting in September. The application process involves completion of a series of questions which help us get to know the applicant and their skills. As well as that there are also a couple of short writing and presentation exercises at the interview stage. If successful, a new graduate starter will be given a line manager and mentor to help them acclimatise and settle in and will have every opportunity to contribute towards campaigns with the rest of the team. Please see our graduate page for further details.