Emma Leech, the Director of Marketing and Advancement at Loughborough University, gives advice for the comms graduates, answering Four PR Questions (#4PRQs). Emma started her career in a fashion and consumer PR agency. Apart from that, her really impressive CV includes job titles like Head of Corporate Communications at the University of Bradford, University of Nottingham’s Director of Marketing, Communications and Recruitment. Emma has also been Manchester Metropolitan University’s Director of Marketing, Communications and Development.
MK: What was your way to the industry?
EL: I started life as a PR trainee/secretary after my A levels, helping to grow a start-up fashion and consumer PR firm from ground zero. My boss went on honeymoon two weeks in and after I’d finished all my work and annoyed everyone with too much tea making, I thought I’d make myself useful and see what I could clear from her tray. She liked what she saw and I was made an Account Executive within two months of starting. I spent the next 12 years studying and working and ended up with a degree, MBA, two PG Diplomas a CAM Certificate and a CAM Diploma. Working and learning at the same time was the way forward for me.
What piece of advice, regarding career, would you give your 20-year-old-self?
Always have a plan. Look at jobs that might be five years away and work hard to ensure you have the skills, experience and qualifications to get them in three. Keep track of all you’ve achieved – it helps on dark days and also when you need interview examples. Don’t take mistakes personally; they’re only mistakes if you don’t learn from them. Get over your fear and network. Build and nurture those relationships regularly.
Always have a plan. Look at jobs that might be five years away and work hard to ensure you have the skills, experience and qualifications to get them in three.
How can PR graduates take advantage of the social and digital platforms, in order to gain attention of the agencies and other potential employers?
I tell our interns to make sure their CVs, LinkedIn, Twitter and online profiles are always up to date – the best opportunities appear on the busiest weeks and usually with a tight deadline. Learn as much as you can and share what you learn – it will keep you current and build your profile. Make it easy for people to find you. Showcase your work. Help others – it’s amazing when a favour will come back to you. Spell everything correctly – that can be a deal breaker. Build online networks and contacts and follow individuals and firms you are interested in as they often post opportunities on their own channels first. Don’t be afraid to contact people you admire and ask for advice or an opinion but keep it short.
The best opportunities appear on the busiest weeks and usually with a tight deadline.
What is the most undiscovered area in the industry that could be used as a dissertation topic?
I’m not sure about undiscovered areas but I’m always fascinated by the impact of emotion on decision making. I’d love to read something about the power of storytelling in relation to business impact or pretty much anything related to content strategy modelling and the importance of social advocacy.
Four PR Questions (#4PRQs) is a weekly series on the blog. I am on the mission to help PR graduates (including myself) make right decisions about their future careers, by asking industry leaders for an advice.
Would you like to give me a feedback or feature in the series? Drop me a line to kl.marcel [at] gmail.com or tweet me @marcelkl. Thanks for stopping by, have a splendid day!