Today’s #4PRQs (Four PR Questions) interviewee is Lyle Closs. Lyle is a very experienced communications professional, who worked across Europe and Asia with Ogilvy PR and Cohn & Wolfe, and with clients like IBM, Dell, Nokia and ZTE. He’s also an adventure travel blogger and writer. “Set a goal — work towards it!” says Lyle.
MK: What was your way to the industry?
LC: I worked as a journalist for six years on trade magazines including the prestigious Australian Plastics and Rubber. I realised that there were limits to individual ambition in the small Australian trade press sector so I did a post-graduate marketing diploma and worked in-house for a few years before making the move into agency life where I have been ever since apart from a stint as PR Manager with Sage. I love agency life – the buzz, the people, the constant challenges and new things to learn, especially in the tech sector which saw such extraordinary developments in the last 25 years.
What piece of advice, regarding career, would you give your 20-year-old-self?
Think career! I spent too many years being ambitious but with no clear goal. Then I saw an opportunity to go to Antarctica, something I had always thought was impossible, and with a close friend, organised the Australian Bicentennial Antarctic Expedition. We sailed to Antarctica in a 60 foot yacht and made the first ascent of one of the continent’s highest mountains. Set a goal – work towards it! So I moved to London and focussed on technology PR. Five years later I was leading the IBM EMEA team at Ogilvy PR, three more years and I was MD Europe at tech specialist network AxiCom. If I had focussed like in my 20s I might even have established my own agency – though I might not have seen Antarctica.
How can PR graduates take advantage of the social and digital platforms, in order to gain attention of the agencies and other potential employers?
Using social/digital media helps to show an employer that you can navigate the social media world, but that is not all it should do. PR is a segmented business. Technology, automotive, consumer, fashion, healthcare, etc. etc. Decide what interests you most and blog about that. So when you say in an interview ‘I am really interested in technology and the impact it has on our lives’ you have already proved that, as well as your interest in communicating. But don’t apply to a tech agency and mentioning your desire to work in the fashion industry. It happens more often than you would imagine.
Using social/digital media helps to show an employer that you can navigate the social media world, but that is not all it should do.
What is the most undiscovered area in the industry that could be used as a dissertation topic?
This is a great opportunity to show potential employers that you are interested in their PR sector. My bet is that most dissertations focus on PR/communications in general rather than on specific sectors. It could also offer you an opportunity to contact agency CEOs or company PR Managers/Directors in the e.g. healthcare PR sector and ask for their input to your research. Then you could also ask if they have internships available, or graduate openings if you are approaching the end of your studies. It is worth doing anything that will put you ahead of the crowd looking for those plum jobs that can kick-start your career.
#4PRQs (Four PR Questions) is a weekly series on the blog. I’m 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!