What I learnt from Verity Clarke - Approach PR

(Screenshot from Approach PR Website)

I write excessive notes, especially during lectures. Regardless of whether the information is online, taking notes – particularly whilst on my laptop (makes it much quicker) really helps me to remember information better. Digesting this information and regurgitating (ew!) onto my blog, makes the content stick much better too!

Anyway, Verity Clarke. Verity works for Approach PR in Ilkley and came to speak to students at Leeds Beckett last week. She shared lots of advice and tips from her own personal career that has included journalism, agency work as well as delivering training sessions for companies using social media and digital PR.

Verity focused a lot on personal branding and tips on finding a job within the PR Industry, as well as a couple of Ad-Hoc tips that she has gathered from journalists and other professionals. I’m going to attempt to share some of that information here, apologies in advance for the bullet points, there just was so much content that I took a note of!

Verity Clarke on Personal Branding

Understand the value of reputation – have a plan and a strategy for yourself and identify your ultimate goals
Imagine who you would want to employ
Be thorough – know your audience, your industry and your competition
Be creative – make yourself memorable and employable
Be consistent – people forget quickly
WALK THE TALK – Your CV may be glowing with experience and skill, but if you turn up the interview with no personality or confidence then it’s no good.
Think of yourself as a client – what makes you different? Identify your USP’s.
What are your objectives? Who is your Audience? – Who are you trying to attract?
Who are the relevant key influencers and opinion leaders (bloggers, key speakers – subscribe, get up to date information!)

Verity Clarke on Networking

I mentioned to Verity that I attend Guest Lectures and events with a range of exciting industry professionals, but I’m not really sure how to start talking to new people. Verity shared these tips, and ironically at the next Guest Lecture I attended, I got chatting to a lovely woman who used to work with Verity and potentially secured some work experience as a result!

Find out who is going in advance and check them out on social media and make contact – you will recognize familiar faces and know who will be interesting to talk to
Hang around the coffee(!) and look out for other people on their own and get talking to them!
Be Persistent and get involved in conversation – politely nudge yourself into those closed groups and get involved.

Verity Clarke on What Agencies are looking for:

People that have gone the extra mile and think above and beyond
Passion and commitment and a good understanding of how PR works
Tangible Evidence – Well presented Portfolios
Strong Writing Ability
Accuracy and attention to detail
People who specifically want to work for their agency – not just any place!

She also suggested researching who influences the agency you want to work at. Who are they talking to and communicating with? What events, conferences and awards are they attending? Can you attend them and network?
She also mentioned how giving people praise and a “pat on the back” can be a great way to get in there – tweet them, congratulate them – see if they retweet you!

Verity Clarke on Press Releases:

Verity drew on her own experiences as well as contacting journalists she deals with regularly to offer her key advice:

Don’t try to be funny or quirky – it doesn’t work
With over 40 Press Release’s a day – long and complicated releases go down the list
Clear precise information in a compact, easy to follow, format
Less is usually more – long press releases get binned because the point is unclear
Competition for space means the point must be in the first sentence.
Poor Stories include: "Company taken on 2 people in last year" and "Small company celebrating first birthday" - actually interested in figures, turnover, profit, value of a deal

Verity’s lecture was very interesting and it was great that she was available afterwards to answer many of my questions. She has progressed within Approach PR and is full of knowledge and experience. In terms of being an Account Director she stressed the importance of good communication. Whether it’s keeping in touch with staff, facilitating information upwards and downwards or ensuring regular phone calls and meetings with clients, flowing communication is crucial in any business, especially PR.
Social Media only goes so far and it’s important to build relationships and rapports with your contacts – particularly journalists and clients – it can help you extract key personal information that could affect future work – new staff, pregnancies, life plans.

Verity really recommended regularly attending exhibitions and conferences – it is expected as an Account Director and invaluable as a PR professional to network and build contacts.

If you didn’t get the chance to attend Verity’s lecture I hope you found this long summary really valuable. You can chat with Verity on her twitter @Vez_Clarke or find out more about Approach PR here.

M x

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