I’m incredibly glad to be featuring Sarah Hall in this week’s #4PRQs (Four PR Questions). I met Sarah during the launch of one of the most significant publications in the industry, #FuturePRoof. What struck me the most about Sarah, was her massive enthusiasm, charm and knowledge about the industry. Since then, I knew that I’d love to hear some career advice from her. Apart from being the editor of the mentioned publication, Sarah is also a newly elected President of Chartered Institute of Public Relations and Managing Director of her own agency — Sarah Hall Consulting Limited.
MK: How did you get into the industry?
SH: Like many people at school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so my mum suggested I complete one of those tests which match personalities and skill sets with different careers. Public relations was the top result and I really liked the sound of it, so I chose to study that along with French at Leeds University.
In my final year I secured an internship which turned into paid employment at Tyne Tees Television, here in the North East. After a short while I moved into agency, and I’ve never looked back.
I started my own business back in 2009 and now employ ten people using an agile business model.
What are the most desired skills you are looking for in graduates?
Great question. There is a lot to be said for having the right personality for a job in public relations. I always look for people who have a keen interest in the industry, who are hungry to learn and who are willing to share their own knowledge and skills.
Every one of my team shares some common traits, and those are an intrinsic desire to do what’s right for our clients, tenacity, business acumen and a passion for the sectors they specialise in. They’re always one step ahead and it means I expect the same from anyone who joins us.
I always look for people who have a keen interest in the industry, who are hungry to learn and who are willing to share their own knowledge and skills.
How can PR graduates take advantage of the digital space and get attention of the agencies and other potential employers?
My last two graduate hires came to my attention because of the blogs they publish, for which they’ve both won awards. Engaging with potential employers on social media and showing you’re abreast of key issues is a great way to impress. Strong writing gives you natural stand out.
What I would say is that competition is fierce and where PR graduates can really differentiate is by demonstrating that they’re not just tactically competent, but that they have a handle on strategy too.
Being good at something doesn’t automatically mean someone knows why they’re doing it or understands the potential consequences for business, and it’s a really important difference.
Competition is fierce and where PR graduates can really differentiate is by demonstrating that they’re not just tactically competent, but that they have a handle on strategy too.
What is the most undiscovered area in the industry that could be potentially used as a dissertation topic?
Yikes. This is a tough one. I’m taking it from the view of PR as a strategic management discipline.
Where public relations practitioners are empowered to guide organisational strategy, it makes sense other disciplines including marketing answer to the public relations function in the corporate hierarchy. While it’s slowly starting to happen, the opposite has traditionally been the case. I’d love to see a dissertation focused on testing this concept with the wider business community and members of the C-Suite. It could be the start of a real step change.
Make sure you follow (and say hello to) Sarah on Twitter. Sarah has also a LinkedIn profile. Reading her publication, #FuturePRoof, is an absolute must for every PR-wannabe, so make sure you take a look. You can also visit Sarah’s website and blog. Moreover, you can follow CIPR on Twitter and see their website.
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!