This week’s interviewee in #4PRQs (Four PR Questions) is Rachel Miller. Rachel is the director at All Things IC consultancy and an internal communications expert. She’s a prominent blogger, consultant and speaker. “Mistakes aren’t bad if you learn from them,” acclaims Rachel.
MK: What was your way to the industry?
RM: I won theatre tickets via a competition in my local newspaper aged 17. I wrote a review of the play and sent it to the paper. The news editor invited me to the newsroom as no one had done that before and he was intrigued.
He encouraged me to write more as their theatre critic, which I did after school and at weekends. I’m wearing my school uniform in my first byline picture! At the end of my A Levels I chose to defer my University place as the paper offered me a full-time job as a journalist. I started in September 1999, a week before my 19th birthday, and never looked back.
What is the biggest mistake of junior people and how can it be fixed?
Mistakes aren’t bad, if you learn from them. No one expects you to have all the answers when you start out in your career. Don’t try and blag it, you not only do yourself a disservice, but also the people you are trying to work for.
However, we can learn a lot from you too. I welcome hearing fresh perspectives and encourage practitioners to be brave and speak up in conversations, regardless of how much experience they have.
But balance that with listening – take the time to listen, learn and adapt your work as you grow in confidence and ability. Be generous, share what works with others around you to help them grow too and benefit from the mistakes you’ve made.
No one expects you to have all the answers when you start out in your career. Don’t try and blag it, you not only do yourself a disservice, but also the people you are trying to work for.
How can PR graduates take advantage of the social and digital platforms in order to gain the attention of the agencies and other potential employers?
Start using them!
Potential employers and agencies need to be able to find you. Your digital footprint needs to be obvious – I want to know how you’re contributing to the industry, how you think and what’s important to you.
As someone who has written a blog for eight years and published over 1000 articles, I thoroughly recommend it as a way of working out loud and being visible.
You need to be smart about how to spend your time, so do your research, know where the people are you want to interact with, grow your network and create or find opportunities to enhance your personal brand.
In other words, be noisy, be noticeable and be true to yourself. That’s what attracts employers.
Potential employers and agencies need to be able to find you. Your digital footprint needs to be obvious.
What is the most undiscovered area in the industry that could be used as a dissertation topic?
Great question. Have so many answers to this! But am going to share two with you. That’s the beauty of working in this field is that there’s always something new to discover.
Coupled with the shiny stuff – “comms bling” as I call it – and the exciting developments with technology, there’s one area that needs exploring. That’s what stays the same.
As a result of all of these brilliant opportunities and ways of working, what are the fundamental principles that remain unchanged? How can we ensure the importance of face-to-face communication and trust are guarded? They’re more important than ever, so what skills do we need be training future PR and Comms pros in? That would interest me as a topic.
Or I’d be interested in reading about the role of internal influencers. Every state of the sector type survey reveals line managers as being critical to effective communication inside organisations.
We also know the importance of peer-to-peer communication when it comes to trust (Edelman’s ‘People like me’ finding in their Trust Barometer). With the rise of office graph technology to map influencers inside our companies, how can PR and Comms pros fully understand this topic? How do we need to train our managers to communicate as a result? What impact does it have that peers are trusted more than Governments or CEOs? All of this would be a cracking topic to read about as I think they are intrinsically linked, but we don’t often think of them together as practitioners, tackling one or the other instead.
#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!