Sara Collinge, who I’m very privileged to be featuring in this week’s #4PRQs (Four PR Questions, is UK managing director at Clarity PR. Clarity has been named the UK’s fastest growing PR agency by PRWeek. Sara leads the strategic development of the UK office and oversees client satisfaction. She graduated from the University of Birmingham with Psychology degree. “Persistence is critical,” says Sara.
MK: What was your way to the industry?
SC: As a child, I was besotted with Kate Adie and wanted to be a foreign correspondent for one of the nationals when I grew up. Towards the end of my undergraduate degree I was applying for a Masters in Newspaper Journalism when a friend got me involved in generating publicity for some music festivals. I went along with it and really enjoyed the work. I met someone who’s parent’s friend ran a boutique b2b agency that had flourished during the dot-com boom. During my first fourth months in the job I organised and staffed a press trip to Germany, sold in stories (both poorly and successfully) and got my first piece of national coverage. I was hooked and realised this was exactly the type of job I wanted to do.
What is the biggest mistake of junior people you employ, and how can it be fixed?
For the record, I’d say that experienced PRs probably make just as many mistakes as junior people in the industry, they’re just different kinds of mistakes. I crowdsourced this response from my team and some of the most common mistakes were: sending out a press release without correctly fact/spell checking, picking up a phone to a journalist and forgetting what you’re selling in (before pretending you’re going into a tunnel…), asking a ‘silly question’, and not bringing a notepad to your first client meeting. Generally, I think these errors result from a lack of experience and preparation, but you can reduce mistakes and increase your presence by starting your career with passion, curiosity and a genuine willingness to learn from the people around you.
You can reduce mistakes and increase your presence by starting your career with passion, curiosity and a genuine willingness to learn from the people around you.
How can PR graduates take advantage of the social and digital platforms, in order to gain attention of the agencies and other potential employers?
Clarity once hired a graduate who had spent hours standing at Waterloo station with a mini billboard and a handful of CVs. My advice is find your own ‘social media billboard.’ Ask yourself, what do you like? What are you good at? Use your time and skills to create things. Whether you have the talent to create video, pictures or words, start doing it and keep doing it, persistence is critical.
Use your time and skills to create things.
What is the most undiscovered area in the industry that could be used as a dissertation topic?
This is a difficult question, but I think what’s interesting right now is the attempt to police influencer marketing. Influencer campaigns and branded content are increasingly popular with agencies and brands, but who’s responsible for ensuring consumers aren’t duped, and how can new rules be enforced while retaining the industry’s creativity? There are many theories and attempts to introduce greater rigour into these campaigns, but no resolution as yet. I’d read a dissertation on that. If it was good it might even land you a job!
#4PRQs (Four PR Questions) is a weekly series on the blog. I’m 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!