It took me one lunch with Stephen Waddington to realise the importance of writing and blogging. He didn’t need to persuade me that much — his blog is one of the most influential PR outlets out there. Stephen is one of my biggest PR inspirations and one of my favourite practitioners. Funnily enough, he once told me to “start interviewing people and put it on your blog.” I’m really happy to be featuring him in #4PRQs (Four PR Questions) this week. He’s a partner and chief engagement officer at Ketchum. He’s also a visiting professor at Newcastle University, and a former president of the CIPR. Stephen has written several books about brand communication and public relations.
MK: How did you get into industry?
SW: Robin Saxby, now Sir Robin, introduced me to his technology PR agency. He’d just started as CEO at a 10-person startup in Cambridge called ARM. I trained as an electronic engineer, and started out in the trade media. I’ve retrofitted a public relations education.
What are the most desired skill you are looking for in the media graduates?
Intellectual curiosity, emotional intelligence and an ethos for hard work. Any experience that demonstrates these competencies will help.
Intellectual curiosity, emotional intelligence and an ethos for hard work.
Let’s talk digital and social — what was its impact on Ketchum’s work? How can people looking for an employment in the industry take an advantage of those platforms?
The story of Ketchum, like many public relations agencies over the last 20 years, is a shift from working with publics via the proxy of traditional media, to direct engagement working across all forms of media. I’ve two suggestions for using digital and social to get ahead in public relations: first, create your own form of media whether words (blog), photos (Instagram) or video (YouTube); and second build a network and share your content with people in the business.
First, create your own form of media whether words (blog), photos (Instagram) or video (YouTube); and second build a network and share your content with people in the business.
What is the most undiscovered area in the industry that could be potentially used as a dissertation topic?
I get asked this a lot. I always advise people to follow a passion, and investigate an area that will provide a leg up onto the career ladder. Behavioural science and mathematics that help us better understand publics are two of the hottest areas. Visual design and production are important creative disciplines, as attention increasingly shifts to social networks.
[Stephen has also crowdsourced a brilliant post on the topics for PR dissertation — MK]
#4PRQs (Four PR Questions) 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!