Hello. Recent graduate of English, Journalism and Creative writing here, in her first Big Girl Job as PR Executive for Bradfords Bakers.
When I got the opportunity to apply for this job, I was over the moon. I had just slugged my way through seven months of listless lethargy as I faced unemployment in the midst of a pandemic. In October, I ended up taking a job that I knew I’d hate for the sake of getting some income and something to do.
I found the job posting for this position around the end of November or start of December, and was too excited about it to be cautious – though it read like it was written specifically for me, maybe by some high-effort stalker, I didn’t care!
The thought of breaking into the start of my career was endlessly exciting, and it came with the promise of a stable schedule and a salary. As someone who had been doing shift work for around six years, I had started to fantasise about a boring, predictable, Monday-to-Friday-9-to-5 job so I could easily make plans with friends and family in the evenings and on weekends; working erratic and random shifts frustrated me as I had to miss out on so much with my friends.
So, here I am at the start of my career in the journalism field, specifically in PR. Having studied journalism for six years, starting this job feels a bit like seeing through the looking glass, and as someone who hasn’t had a lot of real guidance in PR (this job is a trainee position), I feel that I’m still finding my feet.
I spend some of my time at work every now and then looking into resources I can use as a PR and I’m disappointed to say that I haven’t found many websites or portals I’d go back to yet. One thing in particular I wanted to read was an article that takes the format of a day in the life of a PR because I thought that would be helpful, but I actually couldn’t find a piece in this style.
PR is a massively broad area of work, much like journalism. I imagine that a day in the life of a PR will be entirely different depending on a number of factors; what industry is the PR in? Do they work for an agency or are they embedded in a company? Are they the only PR, or are they part of a team? I found a few search results that concerned PRs in fashion, but as someone who is specialising in public relations for a bakery, I figured that I wouldn’t be able to relate much.
So, this is the purpose of this post: to document my own beginnings as a PR, and hopefully help other new and emerging PRs. I might come back to this in perhaps a years’ time for a follow up, to see how my understanding of the position has changed, and how that in turn has affected the way I do the job. But for now, here is what my day as a new PR looks like.
Firstly, what is PR?
PR stands for Public Relations. Talentlyft profiles the position like this:
Public Relations (PR) Executive is a media and public relation professional responsible for developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating communications strategy in order to support the communication objectives and maximize positive exposure in local, national and international markets.
Uh, yeah. Basically I communicate with the likes of bloggers, journalists, and others to support Bradfords Bakers as a company with the goal of increasing exposure for the company. Exposure can be increased through search engine optimization (SEO), which means that we’ll rank higher on relevant Google searches (like hampers or cupcakes). This means that there will be a higher chance of the business attracting new visitors and hopefully customers, which means growth for the company.
I start my day at nine in the morning, usually with a cup of coffee at my desk. The first thing I do is check my emails – email is my main tool as a PR right now. I use a software called ResponseSource that forwards requests from journalists and bloggers to me – I usually have a couple every morning, though not all are relevant.
ResponseSource inquiries take many forms, and come from a wide variety of publications and writers. Mostly, there are bloggers who are requesting items to include in the likes of gift guides, and this means I was really busy in the weeks before Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.
When a blogger gets in touch with me about being included in their posts, I start by researching their website. When looking through a new blog, I’m looking to make sure that the blogger aligns with us in a suitable way. I get all manner of requests through, so sometimes I find that the blogger in question has a focus on the likes of beauty products, fashion, or health foods – so, it’s likely that cupcakes won’t fit well into their guide.
I also check to make sure that the blog is active and has similar content to what they’re writing now posted in the past. This is basically a good indication that they will in fact be writing what they say they are. It’s also helpful if a blog has been active for a few years, as they’ll make a stronger statement to Google algos.
This is where my second piece of software comes into play: Vuelio is a database that holds information about thousands of bloggers, journalists, and influencers across the UK. This app contains information about most blogs and bloggers, and I find it worthy to see what the app has to say about them and how legitimate they are.
If I decide that a blogger is a good fit for us, I get in touch with them and offer them a sample of our product. Bloggers tend to enjoy taking their own photos of the products they’re reviewing (and they often turn out gorgeous!), and it also adds legitimacy to a review piece if a blogger has actually tried what they’re recommending.
A lot of the bloggers I work with fall into the category of parent bloggers, so understandably, they don’t always get back to me on a 9-5 basis. So, when I first look at my emails in the morning, I’ll prioritise them and other journalists who have gotten in touch with me after I finished my last shift.
Back to ResponseSource: as I said, I get a wide variety of emails through this software, from bloggers about gift guides, to journalists making enquiries about people and businesses affected by Brexit, the pandemic, cardboard box shortages, and a large host of other things.
When sifting through ResponseSource inquiries, I look out for recognisable publications that will be advantageous to work with. It’s heart-breaking when their inquiries have nothing to do with the company in any way, shape, or form, and I have to let the opportunity fall through my fingers. However, this does give me a chance to get creative and think of a way I can work with more flexible inquiries.
There’s actually a lot of chances for me to get creative in this position, and in ways I really wasn’t expecting there to be. Before I started, I was asking myself how I can write about the likes of cupcakes and gift hampers, and how on earth do I pitch a variety of articles about them? But really, there’s so much newsworthy content generated here.
Bradfords Bakes is a small, family-owned, e-commerce business. Those three categories alone are conversation starters; I can talk about how Brexit has affected a small business in regards to its access to packaging, or how the pandemic has affected it. I can talk about how the family business has been completely flipped on its head compared to its beginnings nearly a hundred years ago, and about plans for succession. I can write articles that offer advice to bricks-and-mortar businesses that are starting online trading due to lockdowns, and the benefits of e-commerce.
Current affairs impact what I’ll pitch, too; I’ve pitched stories about how sound hygiene practices in the workplace have benefitted onsite staff through lockdowns; about what a post-pandemic world will look like for small companies that have seen growth over the last year; about how our bakers prepare for big holidays like Mother’s Day in terms of new product development.
I’m definitely still finding my feet in the way I pitch – honestly, I’m still not entirely sure what’s expected of me from my pitches. It’s not like journalists have the time to explain to me what was good or bad about the way I’ve pitched a story. Even if they did have the time, I’m not sure they’d be particularly bothered about educating me.
You can find pitching tips for some journalists and websites, which are really helpful. It’s handy to know as well that they are actually receptive to pitches, so you won’t be automatically ignored. Sometimes, I’m pitching blind so it’s vital to make my pitches as direct and clear cut as possible.
The ideal pitch (I think?) will convey that I’ve read and studied the publication I’m pitching to instead of firing in willy nilly. It will let the journalist or editor know who I am and who I’m representing succinctly, and it will make the story sound appealing and interesting without giving the entire thing away. It should lastly let the reader know that I am keen to work with them by providing further information and by setting up interviews with relevant people.
Sometimes an editor will get back to me and ask me to write them a piece about my pitching matter, which I’m happy to do. Other times they’ll ask me for more information, pictures, and sometimes they’ll want to arrange an interview with our managing director to discuss the subject further.
I like days where I spend a chunk of time writing – it’s very clear cut and, again, I enjoy any chance to be creative. My process is, if the time constraints allow it, to write a first draft and let the piece breathe for a day, and I’ll second draft it the following day. Our managing director reads it over for purposes of fact checking and making sure it’s readable, and I’ll include or exclude some bits of information he wants, and then I’ll send it away to whichever outlet it’s for.
I spend a lot of time searching for publications, as it’s kind of difficult finding new and different outlets that I think will actually take on an article from a PR about a small business. It’s not that they’re too big or anything and above us – it’s that they’re likely to get in hundreds of pitches and stories each and everyday from a wide variety of people. So, it’s a little difficult to shine through the cracks and capture the attention I need.
Searching looks like typing in relevant keywords followed by “UK” and “News,” then searching in the News tab of whatever search engine I’m in. Vuelio comes back here, as I can type “business” and other similar words into the outlet search bar and it will show me a massive collection of publications that I can sift through.
When looking at these new publications, I’m trying to get a sense of how relevant Bradfords Bakers would be for them; basically how likely I am to get a reply from them. I’m not trying to waste good pitch ideas on folk who won’t cast a second glance at it. I want to make sure as well that there’s similar content on their site to what I’m pitching, but that it’s not too similar – I’m trying to get a feel for the interest they have in a story without giving them replicatory content.
The good thing about exploring all of this content is how much I learn. Within two months I’ve started using terms and words I never would have before working here, and I’m pretty kept up to date on matters of small business, and news in general since a lot of my job is reading.
I usually leave at five at night but on two nights so far, I’ve stayed to help with the bakery downstairs, doing little odd jobs like putting cardboard boxes together, labelling packages for delivery, and even decorating cupcakes. This may all sound like fun, and it is, but it does involve a lot of being on your feet and working as quickly as possible. On the Thursday before Mother’s Day, I came home pretty much covered in cupcake icing, crumbs, and all sorts.
Still, as I spend most of my days upstairs in the office, I enjoyed the chance to be on my feet, doing physical work, and getting to know the people I don’t see often a little better.
As a creative, I try to schedule myself some creative time in the evenings, either to work on poetry or the blog. I don’t have any active prose projects at the minute. I’m putting this down to coping with being tired in the evenings, but I’m trying to fix that so I have more energy later in the day. I also try to do a wee workout most nights, and my partner and I spend some time talking about our day and making dinner together, too.
There it is: a day in the life of me, a new PR. I’ve said a million times that I’m still finding myself in this role, so I’m looking forward to updating this in maybe a years’ time.
I’m not sure that this is what I want to do for my whole career, though I am enjoying it. Everything is still so new, and with continuing lockdowns, my first few months of work have been totally warped by the pandemic. I think every day of this year will be wildly different as things change so regularly but drastically. Still, I’m excited to learn more and see where I’ll end up.