PR’s a popular industry for graduates, but what’s it like to join a busy agency straight from university? Here’s Ballou’s Ryan Wightman, newly appointed Junior Account Executive in the UK office, on taking his first steps in PR.
Why PR, Ryan?
Two Ballou directors attended a careers event at my university and I got on so well with them I knew in that moment I wanted to work at Ballou. Like many people I had a preconception that PR was consumer facing and very similar to advertising so it’s been brilliant to find out what a varied industry it is. What particularly swung it for me was the fact that Ballou so clearly cared about my life outside work, and whether or not the company culture would suit me and vice versa.
What was the process like?
Well, it was pre-pandemic, around October 2019, so very soon after COVID hit but I kept in touch and I was hired in December 2020. I had to write a client pitch as part of my interview. I had an hour with a case study and some facts and figures and pulled together a pitch. It was nerve-wracking but I actually found it satisfying to do.
What are you enjoying?
I’m on some big accounts, which I’m really enjoying. I did languages at university so the fact that the agency works across Europe gives me an opportunity to work in different languages. It’s actually helped with the COVID isolation too, as I get to collaborate with out French and German teams which helps remind me there’s still a world out there. The human aspect of PR is my favourite aspect of it.
What skills do you think have benefited you?
Being good at time management and multi-tasking is vital. It’s been fascinating to learn about the news cycle and how our clients want to get their voice heard and how we can manage that.
How has starting in lockdown been?
Well definitely odd, but the social aspect of the company culture and the fact that the company genuinely cares has made it as painless as possible. It hasn’t all been about work and KPIs, we have socials, catch-up calls and yoga sessions. I think the fact that I feel so integrated into the company already, despite not having met many of them, is testament to the culture.
What advice would you give to a graduate contemplating their own first steps in PR?
Remember that you are not expected to be perfect! You aren’t a fully formed PR yet. Be open-minded and receptive to learning new things and don’t worry about making mistakes. It’s more important to be flexible than to be a perfectionist.
If you’re thinking about beginning a career in PR, send us your CV here. We’d love to hear from you.