Answering my Four PR Questions today is Francis Ingham. Francis is Director General of the PRCA, and Chief Executive of the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO). Francis’ background is in politics and public affairs. He is External Examiner to the American University at Richmond, Trustee of The Speakers’ Corner Trust, and the Master of the City of London Company of Public Relations Practitioners. Francis also appears in both the UK and the Global editions of PR Week’s PowerBook.
MK: How did you get into industry?
FI: University. I acted as (unpaid) Press Officer for the Oxford University Conservative Association. Some excellent opportunities with Cabinet Ministers; some ‘PR disasters’ (thankfully, ‘Minxgate’ was a purely hardcopy fiasco….). But get your mistakes out of the way when they don’t really matter eh? After Oxford I worked in politics. Lionel Zetter suggested that I apply for the role of Head of Public Affairs for the ©IPR, and then that I should apply to run the PRCA. Eh voila!
What are the most desired skill employers are looking for in graduates?
I’d say enthusiasm for the industry; and writing skills. The first overcomes a lot of other failings -if I had to pick between somebody who could demonstrate a clear love of PR, and somebody with a better degree but without enthusiasm, I’d go for the former any day. So join the PRCA, seek out (paid) internships; make clear it’s a career choice, not a stepping stone. As for writing skills, well their absence if the bane of the job application letter, and drives bosses to pull out their hair. We like people who can communicate after all….
Join the PRCA, seek out (paid) internships; make clear it’s a career choice, not a stepping stone.
How can PR graduates take advantage of it and get attention of the agencies and other potential employers?
Meet people. Network like your career depends upon it (it does). Be cheeky -the most important person in the room is often the most ignored one, because people are afraid to approach them. They really don’t bite (that often). A personal bugbear? You deliver a guest lecture at a university. You make a point of saying ‘do always introduce yourself to senior people. Do always ask for their card. Do always ask if they have an internship going, or ten minutes free for a chat’. And having said all of that, what happens? Everyone trots off. Not everyone to be fair -one inspired soul has got the message, and introduces themselves. And more often than not, they intern for us or for somebody else we’ve introduced them to.
Network like your career depends upon it (it does).
What is the most undiscovered area in the industry that could be potentially used as a dissertation topic?
I’ve contributed to plenty of dissertations about lobbying regulation. And plenty about future skills. What I’ve not seen, and would certainly be of interest to me, would be a comparison of ethical standards around the world. Through my role as CEO of ICCO, operating as it does in 48 countries, I know that expectations and norms differ enormously. And I mean enormously. Be an interesting topic, and we’d certainly engage……
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!