August 17, 2018

Candace Lewis – Assistant Publicist

Candace Lewis – Assistant Publicist

In honour of Careers in Creative Industries Week, Candace Lewis has written a blog post;

A day in the life of a trainee…

One evening after work, I was on my laptop doing my usual job search, typing in phrases like ‘PR internship’ and ‘Communications’ in the hope something new and exciting would come up. It did.  But I almost didn’t go for it because I thought it would be super competitive and in all honesty I felt a bit defeated from the radio silence and rejection of my recent applications.  It was an advert for one of four places on the next BBC Communications Trainee scheme.  I was enthused by the fact that you didn’t need prior PR experience to apply so I thought why not! It made a nice change to seeing a job advert and wondering how I’m supposed to get the required experience if no one will give me any.  A few weeks after submitting my application I was invited to an interview (yay!) which was essentially a group assessment followed by a one on one interview. In these situations be prepared to talk about PR campaigns that you admire, how you consume news (apps, newspapers, TV?) and of course what you know and like about the organisation.

I got the job and learned that we, the four trainees, were picked out of around 1300 applicants.  Words can’t describe how that made me feel.

As a Trainee I was on the news and radio placement which meant spending a few months in each Communications team. To be honest there’s no such thing as a typical day in PR but I’ll use my time in radio to narrow down what I got up to.  In the morning my first task would be collating any radio press cuttings into a report to send to various stakeholders.  Next would be uploading programme information to the media centre website so press could see highlights of what’s coming up on the station.  As a Trainee I felt very nurtured and trusted so when I was given tasks like writing copy or pitching to a journalist it was scary but I felt like I had the support of the team around me to give these tasks my best shot.  Pitching involved either calling or emailing a radio journalist about a programme I was assisting on to see if they were interested in writing about it.  If they were interested they could listen to the programme in advance on the previews website and then request an interview with one of the contributors from the programme.  Sometimes I would also assist the Publicists with tasks like transcribing interesting quotes from a programme to send to press. Whilst in radio I also helped out with press events, which would require all hands on deck especially as radio teams are small.  I helped source biographies for new musicians associated with the station for a press pack, sent out invitations, managed the RSVPs and greeted press when they arrived to name a few of my duties.

As a Communications (Comms) Trainee there are so many skills you can learn and develop.  My interpersonal skills were strengthened through working alongside producers, commissioners, journalists, talent agents and other PRs etc.  I used these skills to build relationships with people because having their trust goes a long way especially in an organisation like the BBC.  Writing and proof-reading were integral to my role because I had to make sure that press releases were accurate, fit the tone of the organisation, and would entice people to tune in to a programme.  Because of these requirements this role has also made me a lot more conscientious and willing to ask questions.  Meeting newspaper and magazine deadlines also improved my time management as I often had to work quite far in advance of a programme airing to make sure I could get the word out in time.  As a Comms Trainee, journalists weren’t always responsive to what I was pitching so I had to persevere and keep trying other avenues.  Ultimately, perseverance is what helped me apply in the first place.  So if you ever see a role that you think will be ‘super competitive’ just apply any way – you never know!

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