In this week’s #4PRQs (Four PR Questions), I’m really glad to be featuring one of my favourite tweeters, Mike Love. Mike has 40 years’ experience in the communications business as UK chairman of the leading global PR agency Burson-Marsteller; international communications lead for G4S, BT, Microsoft and McDonald’s; and as the political agent to Margaret Thatcher. “To be successful in PR you have to be interested in people,” says Mike.
What was your way to the industry?
I studied law at university and my first job was with Shell as a Legal & Corporate Affairs Assistant. At that time “PR” was a press office issuing (rare) press releases and I wasn’t really aware of it, but in the Legal & Corporate Affairs teams my more senior colleagues dealt with what we would now call “issues management.” At that time it was oil price wars mainly. I got a taste for it and my role gradually became more about CA and less about legal. When at school I always wanted to be a journalist, and as a student I spent more time playing politics than studying, so maybe I was destined to combine those elements.
What piece of advice, regarding career, would you give your 20-year-old-self?
Three things – First, look for jobs where you think you can learn most. Your first job is the beginning of your education in PR not the end of it. This can include formal training and accreditation, but I thought then and still think now that the most important thing is to find smart people to work for and with. Second – don’t panic if you find yourself in the wrong place. All experience is useful and being in one job being able to look for another which fits you better beats not having a job. And third – listen before speaking. This is good advice to my 60 year old self too!
Don’t panic if you find yourself in the wrong place. All experience is useful and being in one job being able to look for another which fits you better beats not having a job.
How can PR graduates take advantage of the social and digital platforms, in order to gain attention of the agencies and other potential employers?
To be successful in PR you have to be interested in people and the ideas and things which influence and persuade them to think and act. Our business is to change or reinforce those opinions and behaviours. Showing awareness of those people, ideas and things by writing about them on social media platforms demonstrates that you understand that importance. Most of all being active on social media shows that you have a point of view and can showcase your rhetorical skills, to bring them and you to the attention of future employers. I avidly read all kinds of blogs looking for other peoples’ opinions I can steal and make my own.
Being active on social media shows that you have a point of view and can showcase your rhetorical skills, to bring them and you to the attention of future employers.
What is the most undiscovered area in the industry that could be used as a dissertation topic?
My experience is all from political campaigns and corporate reputation, so I tend to focus on those areas. I’m particularly interested in looking at the ever-increasing gap between what politicians and businesses say and what political electorates and corporate stakeholders hear. Some of this concerns the ecosystems of ‘how’ we communicate, but mostly it is about ‘why’ we communicate. There has been a significant generational shift in the way people think and act. Addressing the ‘why’ more than the ‘how’ may provide insight to better understand and address that shift.
Make sure you follow Mike on Twitter.
#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!