I’m very lucky to have Mary Whenman, answering my Four PR Questions (#4PRQs) today. Mary is the outgoing Interim Communications Director at Callcredit Information Group, President of Women in PR, has been listed in the PR Week Powerbook 2016 & 2015 and was a Cannes Lions Glass judge in 2016. Mary is a PRCA PR & Communications Council Member, Member of CIPR and former PR Week Mentoring Mentor. On her incredibly impressive CV, we can find agencies ranging from Weber Shandwick to Grayling, where Mary was Managing Director, Corporate & Financial and Freuds, where she’s worked with clients such as The Carphone Warehouse and many, many more.
MK: How did you get into industry?
MW: I started out at a small husband and wife agency called David Crewe Associates. I did a business studies degree at Bournemouth University and did a sandwich year placement. I wrote to 50 agencies and the only one who invited me for an interview was David Crewe Associates. They offered me a one year placement on the spot. When I graduated I went back and worked for them for another two years.
What are the most desired skills you are looking for in graduates?
It’s all about attitude at graduate level as you’re recruiting for potential rather than experience. When interviewing, I’m looking for somebody who’s on top of the news agenda as well as current and emerging trends, who understands digital beyond simply using social media for personal reasons, who has a work ethic and a positive outlook.
It’s all about attitude at graduate level as you’re recruiting for potential rather than experience.
How can PR graduates take advantage of social and digital channels to get attention of the agencies and other potential employers?
PR graduates need to actively manage their digital footprint and be aware of the personal brand they want to portray. At a previous agency, we asked those applying for our graduate training scheme to produce a video about themselves and post it online. It was a good way for them to demonstrate their creativity as well as their technical skills. It’s also important to follow agencies and PR industry leaders on social media to understand what makes them tick, the issues that concern them and topics that interest them. Starting with those in the PR Week Powerbook is a good place to start.
Top tip: Never be afraid to DM or email somebody direct. It always surprises me how few people do this. I assume they don’t do it as they think everybody’s doing it, but they’re not. It’s also tells you a lot about somebody if they respond or not.
Never be afraid to DM or email somebody direct. It always surprises me how few people do this.
What is the most undiscovered area in the industry that could be potentially used as a dissertation topic?
By the time you get to my age and stage, I need people who are graduating or in the early stages of their PR career to tell me about the undiscovered areas of our industry.
FourPR Questions (or #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!