This week for my Interview Series, we have Catriona Pollard, Founder / Director of CP Communications, talking about the different sectors of PR, starting up a company and teaching writing skills.
Q1. Before CP Communications, you worked in PR agencies, set up a marketing communications department for a software company and managed marketing and public affairs for federal and state government. Can you tell us a little about these 3 areas? What did you like / dislike about them?
In house roles in corporate and government are very different. The start in Government gave me a great foundation to my career but now I realise I have much more of an entrepreneurial bent (which I wish I realised much earlier on in my career).
Working in PR Agencies was fantastic for me to learn how an agency was run and how to manage multiple accounts.
Q2. What do you think was the main reason you wanted to start up your own company?
To accomplish something I had no idea if I could accomplish – so the challenge. I love a challenge! I also wanted to create something from scratch that was infused with my ideals, vision and approach to PR.
Q3. You also hold seminars at the Sydney Writers’ Centre covering PR and media releases. What sort of things do you teach?
After going to so many workshops that only talked about the theory of PR, I wanted to develop a really practical workshop where people could walk away with enough knowledge and confidence to do PR either in their role or for their business.
I teach how to develop a PR strategy, so at the end of the day the participants have at least an outline of their strategy. We talk through how to determine target audiences, how to structure media releases, how to deal with journalists, how to write articles, how to approach bloggers as part and much more.
I love teaching the course, and all of the emails I get from people telling me how much media coverage they are getting!
Q4. As someone who is a prolific blogger and writer on the PR industry, would you say setting up a blog is beneficial for PR professionals?
Absolutely! Blogging is a great way of building your profile within your industry. PR people need to be proficient in social media so taking the time to write a blog is a great way of experiencing social media first hand. I certainly like to employ people that have a clear personal social media strategy such as a blog or Twitter.
Q5. You’ve previously written about the impact of social media on the PR industry, what sort of online / digital skills do you think are becoming essential for PR professionals?
PR professionals need to be just as proficient in social media as they are in PR. To me, social media is another tactic to share your client’s stories just as journalists are. So PR people need to understand the strategy behind social media campaigns as well as being really proficient in the key mediums ie Twitter, Facebook and blogging. They also need to know when to say no to clients – not all social media suits all businesses.
Q6. And lastly, what would be your number one tip for a PR student on a job hunt?
Do an internship. I would suggest that you should get as much ‘on the job’ experience as humanly possible before you start looking for a paid role. I always employ graduates that have taken the time to do more than just their required internship.