26 March, 2006

Thinking Forward...

Some students of Auburn university in Alabama have set up Forward to help and guide all those starting out in PR (like me!). Their managing editor Erin has already got a really sucessful blog of her own and has brought together a group of students, practitioners and lectuers to 'provide a comprehensive, ever-evolving, online springboard for students and young professionals in PR'. Really cool stuff.

I am a little behind the times it seems, but spreading the word futher is going to do no harm.

The website is full of career advise, basics, and pretty much anything you would wish to know about going into the industry. I've only been on it briefly but already I can see that this is going to be so helpful to me over the next few months!

They are also open to contributions (I think I might have a go if they will let me!) whether you want to leave a one off or undertake regular postings. As far as I am aware they haven't got any regular British writers - So get in quick!

all those lovely, injurious tars and resins...

I smoke. I love smoking. I'm smoking right now (not really but by the time you read this I could be). Every day I contemplate quiting and everyday I think about it over a cup of tea and a ciggy. Of course, I smoke in the privacy of my own home where whether I am allowed to smoke is never comes into question.
I joke that the reason that I smoke is because it is clever and grown up but its not. I kid myself that I will give up when they reach a certain price (£4.50, £5, all came and went).
Because I shouldn't smoke and I don't think anybody else should either. The Packets say it all: emphysema, heart disease, cancer, cancer, cancer and, the loveliest of all, impotence (I don't understand the packs that say - DON'T START, presumably if you have dedicated a, considerable, amount of money for this pack I would guess you had already started smoking).
But I enjoy it. It's gross. It stains my lungs. It kills people. It goes so well with my tea. It de stresses me, and I love it.
I fully appreciate that other people dislike smoking. If I am at someones house where they do not smoke I have no qualms about going outside (I do this at my Parents house.) .
Anyway didn't Oscar Wilde say: "Let us go and lie on the grass and smoke cigarettes and enjoy nature." (I'm rather proud at finding that quote.)
People argue that 'It's perfectly legal to have sex, be naked, urinate, but try doing any of those things in the dining room of a restaurant and you're looking at a hefty fine, if not jail time. The same should hold true for smoking.'
This is a very strong point - but why can't we have smoking bars and non smoking bars? Forest, the 'pro-choice' smokers rights society (they even have awards) have suggested this from the start. Their argument is if you are going to ban it in some places ban it everywhere, don't victimise people over a lifestyle choice. They use the D-word (Discrimination) a lot.
Anyway I shall be watching the progress in Scotland carefully, it is a sign of things to come.
On a similar note - there is a film out in the states called Thank You for Smoking, which delves into the American lobbying system, following a man who represents the tobacco industry. It looks rather good - I wonder if anyone has seen it?
Interestingly they have their own MySpace and the director(Jason Reitman) has his own blog too. Is this becoming the norm for all film promotion?

25 March, 2006

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

Only a few more days and then the Easter Holidays are going to feel like:

Of course I am not going on holiday - apart from a trip down to london to see my folks and friends. Although I am really looking forward to that, I haven't seen people since Christmas.

The picture is how I am going to feel once I have handed in my dissertation. I'm sorry to keep banging on about it but there really isn't room in my life for anything else until this is done.

Until Easter I will have many sleepless nights and about one hundred panic attacks to look forward to - and after...

(And portfolio..)

24 March, 2006


Excellent news locally. The BNP has been rejected from Keighley, diminishing their number of seats on Bradford City Council to three. Hopefully the whole of Yorkshire will soon be freed from these people and stop voting them in! They drag the reputation of this beautiful county through the mud.

For the Americans who read this the BNP (British National Party) are a particularly unpleasant extremist party from the UK they are are racist and fascist scaremongers. I would provide a link so that you can see for yourselves but I don't want it on my site.

The church for one opposes them and Stephanie Rybak, executive secretary to the West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council (WYEC) has said:

'We feel the BNP is a deeply worrying movement and its policies are racist and fascist.' She added: 'Were concerned at the level of voter apathy, which means people wont vote. If they don't, there's a real danger that extremist parties might get elected.'

But why aren't the other councillors in these BNP prone areas working together with the church to get rid of them through a massive campaign to get people voting? Surely with a common problem such as this they should be working together.

Local PR firms should get involved, I would do it pro bono, to lobby against this kind of extremism and to build stronger local links and links to local authorities to give the public hope that their vote will make a difference and will not have any adverse consequences. Surely some corporate social responsibility from local businesses would help. There are also loads of anti BNP groups on the internet - although some of them are just as extreme.

23 March, 2006

He ain't heavy...

Chloe is right this whole blogging phenomenon is very infectious! More and more people are getting themselves involved and it is pleasing to see.

I was talking to my brother earlier and even he is interested and wants to know what to do and where to go. He is a first year student at Nottingham University studying Psychology so I reckon it will be great. He assures me that he will let me know his address as soon as he sorts one so I will post a link from here! This goes for any other new bloggers out there as well.

Blogging is a fantastic way of communicating and getting your opinions out there. I have commented before that it does get rather addictive, but this is by no means a bad thing. Often a blog will force you to read further into your professional area. As well as examining your own beliefs. Blogs also are an easy way of getting acquainted with a subject you were previously unsure of, after all there are experts out there expressing their superior wisdom and all you have to do is tap in.

Although having said that it is not all easy sailing and quite often I have to look things up!

22 March, 2006

Thank you

A quick thank you to all those who took part answering my questions for my dissertation. You know who you are. Without your contribution the dissertation would have never happened.

21 March, 2006

Why is ambition bad?

Today I was assessed on 'the pitch' module of this semester. Our entire year got in groups and were given a brief from Harrison Cowley, we then Pitch to our tutors and the top four pitches would go on to present again for Harrison Cowley. The best group of those four wins £1,000 to make things a little more interesting.

The brief this year was on Gatecrasher, or rather the re-branding of the Gatecrasher image and the launch of Discotheque, their new club in Leeds (which has already opened but we were to imagine it hadn't). I think we did OK, I doubt we will be the ones picked - although it would be nice.

Now I do not mind working in groups, but I found this assignment particularly taxing. It wasn't just the timing - dissertation time is really when you want to be putting together mood boards and writing 'a short supporting document' that goes over 70 pages .

It wasn't a bad atmosphere as such, it was just that although the girls were friendly it was clear that we had very little in common. None of them for example had any desire to go into PR, with two of them admitting that they really should have done events management because 'its more fun'. There was just a complete lack of ambition that I have never understood, I got very odd looks just revealing that I want to (some day) have my own consultancy and want to be an account exec in the next 2 years and will go on to be a director of communications, or an MD or the like.

I am sorry to say that this group of unambitious peers are not remarkable - in fact most of my year seen quite happy to go and work in shops after they graduate, move back with mum and dad until m and d cave and buy them a flat ('I never want to pay my own rent' said one) and don't want to work in PR. Ambition is frowned on.

Its all very depressing - why would you lose three years, and get 9 grand debt not to continue? What happened to being proud of our ambitions and aiming high? Where did all the defeatism come from?
UPDATE: Some people seem to think that I was having a personal swipe at the people in my group - like I said in the post they were really friendly.
UPDATE 2: I will not be subjected to personal attacks on my blog. I don't mind criticism or disagreements and in fact, I encourage it to stimulate further discussion, but I will not allow personal and false comments from anonymous commenters who are not contributing to the discussion to remain on my site.

17 March, 2006

The inner Librarian

The People from the Bad Pitch Blog are running a petition to end bad PR once and for all, which includes a map so that you can see where all the bloggers are. I think this is great - after all bad PR practices affect everyone in the industry, but also (mainly) because you can see where the majority of bloggers are.

Not that I am not for the cause, I just think its really fascinating to find PR people all over the world, sorted into categories of what they do (in-house, agency, etc). I find this kind of thing really interesting - maybe just because I am nosey - or perhaps it is my inner librarian coming through.

But I find it rather embarrassing that only Stuart Bruce and myself have signed up from the UK so far - where are you lot?!

13 March, 2006

The CV updation continues

Just had a call from the Guardian Fuller CV. To be honest I had forgotten that I had uploaded my CV, all that time ago. However the guy was really great and offered to re-shedule for April as I was so busy.

I wonder what they will add to it?...

Damned Dissertation!

Dissertation is making my mind wonkey. Not having read Heat magazine or anything else for that matter that I do not have to operate my mind for (including newspapers), for longer than I can remember is really rather disturbing.

I wonder if I will ever have the neeed to discuss pheonomenology again? If I never have to again I will be very very happy!

11 March, 2006

Behind the Spin - New Horizons?

As I am sure you are all aware I wrote an article for the current issue of Behind the Spin. This was an excellent experience and really forfilling - in fact it is what convinced me (well that and Richard Bailey) to start this blog and continue writing. If you wish to read it there is a link.

Anyway that was months ago. Before Christmas before dissertation hell, before even (gasp) I had a blog! The reason why I bring it up now is that John Hitchins is applying for a National Teaching Fellowship to develop Behind the Spin into new territories. Very exciting you may squeal but wait, there's more.

The application requires evidence that the magazine has "promoted and enhanced the student learning experience" and supported colleagues in other universities who wish to "stimulate learning."

What?! How can the magazine be anything but a way of stimulating learning. For my own article I learnt so much on my chosen subject (and no not just the practical side), and also about research and writing. Especially writing. To have to justify the learning benefits that are so clearly obvious is madness, and why need to spell it out when you can just send them a copy and be done?

But I wonder just how big the Behind the Spin mag can really get? I reckon it could go all the way - a kind of student version of PR Week, perhaps with constant updates online too (like the Guardian Unlimited), or monthly interactive DVDs, and a constant blog (natch).

The possibilities are endless.

08 March, 2006

The Joys... Of Marketing?!

One of my optional modules this semester was retail marketing. I wasn't really looking forward to it, after all I reckoned that it would just be full of the same PR girls who assumed that, because it had retail in the title, they could use it as an excuse to go shopping. So before I had even been to a lecture I was considering swapping.

Unfortunately most of the other options were Law and EC Business, which I longed to do for the challenge, but they are time consuming, often with loads of jargon to learn. After a discussion with Les Hamilton, one of the module leaders, I decided to stay on board.

(The conversation went something like this:
LH: You want to quit because you think it will be too easy and you will get bored?
AP: Yep
LH:So let me get this straight, you have your dissertation, your portfolio, you are retaking last semesters exam to improve on your grade and you have a pitch to assemble. And you want to quit a module because you won't find it difficult?!
AP: Errr...)

And I am so very glad that I did reconsider. I do find it a little obvious in places but I am genuinely enjoying being able to put all those years of working in the retail industry to some advantage.

So I don't particularly care whether some people turn their noses up at retail marketing, or question my loyalty to the PR cause, I've found something new that I am good at and that is always a joy.

Possible Sneaky Peek...

I intend to find out whether I can post my dissertation on here like I have with my CV. I need to find out if this will break my ethical release of informaton agreement It shouldn't because I have upheld my promises of complete anonymousness to my interview subjects. I will find out and let you know...

06 March, 2006

Flat hunting - mmm fun!

Looking at flats today. raising all these questions; is it better to live alone or get a flat share? And what if i move in with loonies who murder me in my bed? I've seen shallow grave it can all go very very wrong!

There is also the fact that although I am originally from London I am fairly clueless about where I want to be. Not having a job yet means that I don't have a centre of operations. Which makes looking even more bizarre. I suppose it is rather early to look and I am very fortunate to have my parents still living to London so that should the worst come to the worst I can stay with them for the time being.

It is probably a bit early to be stressing about it anyway.

03 March, 2006

Alex - just a guinea pig?

Well I have allowed myself to become an online experiment! All part of Stuart Bruce's master plan. My CV is now posted on Writely and any changes people want to make are all welcome.

Do you think my CV could benefit from your expertise?

Anyone who wants to collaborate needs to be ok-ed by me so email me if you want to be involved! This should not only help me improve my CV but also see what people judge to be the most important things on a CV.

My Rubbish CV

I went down to the placements office the other day with my CV - I was not entirely sure how to spruce it up but there was definate sprucing action needed. I love the placements office, and although I know that it was the right choice for me to continue without it, wish I had considered taking a year in industry just to spend some time in there!

Well, 2 hours later and my CV was covered in pen. Apparently nothing was right and none of my achievements clear. Despite this I was really impressed - they were not patronising, just really helpful. I reckon I have the makings of a killer CV now - hurrah!

Its like a Jungle Sometimes - it makes me I wonder how I'll keep from going under

Richard Bailey is not the only one who has got me wondering - well as my lecturer it is his job. Although apparently I'm not the only one, Chloe is perplexed by it all too. In fact everyone for years has been commenting on it. There is even a whole blog set up about it! Why are there so many women in PR and why is it mainly men at the top?

It is implied that women in PR will succumb to the 'glass ceiling' theory, possibly because the men bosses will take pity on the boy applicants - Lord knows why they are out numbered 5 - 1 (or possibly that's why) - hire them and take them under their wing thus enabling them to reach the top to hire more boys... etc etc. Meanwhile the women hang about largely indistinguishable from each other and therefore going nowhere.

Its like those nature programmes where everyone wants to see the big lion, but actually it is a pack of fairly indistinguishable females who do all the hunting etc whilst the male lounges around playing cards and scratching himself, getting all the popularity in the process.

Now I am not suggesting that this is the way with all PR agencies. But I think it is important that the perceived 'glass ceiling' in PR is effectively removed - after all PR is viewed as modern and exciting and new. For any aspect of the industry to be viewed as archaic will be damaging to that reputation. I am not suggesting that women are picked purely because they are women, but that girls studying PR need to make a concerted effort to be taken seriously within the workplace, and bosses need to be aware that whilst they should not compromise their 'best person for the job hiring' they should be aware of the image they are projecting.