I’m delighted to be featuring Peter Barron in Four PR Questions (#4PRQs). Peter is currently the VP of Communications and Public Affairs at Google. He has the background in journalism, being the University of Manchester graduate and having worked for the significant BBC, Channel 4 and ITV’s productions. Comms students — grab your writing devices and take some notes!
MK: What was your way to the industry?
PB: I was editing BBC’s Newsnight programme and becoming ever more interested in the web and new technology, so I got to know the head of comms at Google and one day he sent me an email asking if I knew anyone who might make a good head of comms for the UK. Kind of on the spur of the moment I said “maybe me”, and it all moved very fast after that.
What piece of advice, regarding career, would you give your 20-year-old-self?
What you do now – or don’t do – stays with you for the rest of your life. When I was 20 I was on a university year abroad in Nice, and was meant to be studying French. I can get by in French, but today I work with teams all over Europe, Middle East and Africa who all speak brilliant English. I had the chance to be fluent in French, Spanish, Portuguese – I wish I’d grabbed it.
What you do now – or don’t do – stays with you for the rest of your life.
How can PR graduates take advantage of the social and digital platforms, in order to gain attention of the agencies and other potential employers?
The great thing about today’s media – which wasn’t the case when I started out – is that you don’t have to wait for anyone to commission you to write a blog, make a film, record a song etc. The best way to impress future employers is simply to get on and do it. “Here’s something I’ve done – it has half a million views” is a compelling line in a job interview.
The great thing about today’s media – which wasn’t the case when I started out – is that you don’t have to wait for anyone to commission you to write a blog, make a film, record a song etc.
What is the most undiscovered area in the industry that could be used as a dissertation topic?
Everyone tries – and plenty of people claim to know – but if you could answer the question of how accurately and simply to measure the impact of PR activity across the press, TV and social media I suspect you’d not only get a very good grade, but also have the basis for a lucrative career.
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!