For today’s #4PRQs (Four PR Questions), I’m really lucky to be interviewing Sarah Scholefield, currently Managing Director at Grayling UK. Sarah in English graduate from the University of Manchester. In her admirable curriculum vitae, we can also find many other reputable agencies, including Freuds, Edelman and Fleishman-Hillard. Sarah has also spent nine years in Singapore, working on global clients.
MK: What was your way to the industry?
SS: The very traditional (and now, out-dated!) way. I started as a receptionist in a financial PR company – largely because the pay was good and I had been told by friends while at University that I would be good at PR because ‘you talk a lot’. Clearly we had no idea what PR was but I found myself understanding very quickly about press releases, press events etc and being fairly useless at answering the phone and other reception duties. I quickly moved in to TV PR and my career was born.
What piece of advice, regarding career, would you give your 20-year-old-self?
Be a sponge – listen, learn, take some risks and try as many different communications disciplines as possible. Work with as many different people as you can so you learn a range of skills and approaches – and don’t restrict yourself by aligning too early with a particular element of communications – until you’ve had a chance to experience many different things. Be brave and don’t be afraid to stick your head above the parapet – your opinion is just as valid as someone who has been in the business for a while.
Be a sponge – listen, learn, take some risks and try as many different communications disciplines as possible.
How can PR graduates take advantage of the social and digital platforms, in order to gain attention of the agencies and other potential employers?
There are obvious routes through LinkedIn etc but I would encourage graduates to be smart (you have a blog which is great) with social / digital. Look at ways to showcase your own content – be it video, written or visual. Align yourself with key industry influencers via Twitter (and other platforms) – it shows that you already have a grasp of role of influencers and how to create engaging content and build relationships with them.
There are obvious routes through LinkedIn etc but I would encourage graduates to be smart (…) with social / digital.
What is the most undiscovered area in the industry that could be used as a dissertation topic?
I’m always interested in looking at whether PR consultancies should be more like management consultancies? The way the industry is evolving means that communications agencies are often called upon, albeit with a communications bent, to advise and create strategies around change management, business risk etc. Similar to management consultancy, good communications businesses can create value, maximise growth and improve business performance through strategic and smart use of comms – and increasingly communications is seen as a C-Suite skill.
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!