Upon starting work experience placements in PR this year, I came to the dawning realisation that I am effectively a mindless consumer.
Like most people, I’ve always presumed that everything I read in newspapers or online media outlets was written by journalists. Of course, I now know that this is the sign of a job well done by PR professionals.
When I started my first work experience placement, I learned that PR agencies and in-house PR professionals will appeal to media outlets with the intention of maintaining a favourable image of their client in the press. This largely involves writing and pitching engaging pieces of copy to journalists. Businesses therefore hire PR agencies to build brand credibility and maintain a positive image in the press.
As Target is celebrating its 40th birthday this year, I knew that I wouldbenefit from their expertise during my work experience placement. One of their major clients is Specsavers, so I spent my first day writing up customer feedback from stores across the country. Again, this confirmed my impression that subtly maintaining a credible image in the media is key for consistent profit. While a flashy (albeit expensive) advert may well engender a short-lived spike in sales, prospective customers are more likely to believe that it is worth going to Specsavers if they’ve seen positive feedback from another customer.
During both of my work experience placements in PR, one of the most valuable skills I’ve gained is how to produce an interesting piece of written work in just a few hours. For someone used to spending up to three weeks on university essays, this has proven to be a challenge, but also something that I’ve quickly adapted to. In PR pieces, it’s important to get your point across in a concise yet compelling manner. Unlike academic essays, simplicity is key. Here at Target, I’ve also learned the difference between traditional press releases and web stories, subtle variations that I otherwise would not have picked up on.
In PR, written work also extends to drafting and scheduling social media content for clients. In an increasingly digital age, it could be argued that curating social posts is rapidly becoming the most important aspect of PR. It’s been interesting to learn what catches the eye of a customer and what doesn’t.
I really feel that I’ve developed my understanding of PR during this valuable work experience placement with Target.