Finding out about the work experience module for my postgraduate degree was definitely something I was ecstatic about. However, with England being on lockdown, the reality hit me that the opportunities for finding a 10-day placement may be slim.
In the early days of the work experience module, I spent hours sending emails to agencies and checking my inbox to no replies. This was something I did on repeat for a week, so I decided to change my approach. Sourcing through Linkedin and job board sites, I found Bednar communications, a Manchester-based digital PR agency.
Excitedly I browsed through their case studies, and upon recognising publications I like to read, I knew I had to reach out to see if they would take me on. The response was swift, and I instantly felt my optimism levels rise.
Negotiating the placement
The negotiation stage was an opportunity for myself and Bednar comms to find out more information about each other. The PR manager was keen to know about me and my studies. It was also a chance to agree about how the placement would work, including the placement dates and times.
During the negotiation stage, I was asked about my PR experience, what I had done, what I want to learn and the module requirements. The team at Bednar Comms were very good at communicating, and I felt that they really cared about me getting the best out of this experience.
The First Day at Bednar Comms
I was eager to network with people working in the industry. But on my first day, I was full of nerves and enthusiasm. This was a consequence of the uniqueness of working virtually. I had no idea what to expect. My imagination had me picturing myself sitting on a video call, watching the day to day duties and taking notes. But luckily that was not the reality.
The agency was very trusting and gave me access to the credentials to view the software they use to outreach and links to the campaign files. I was quickly able to learn the stages the agency uses to go from idea to pitch, it was so fascinating to see how a business can work online efficiently.
The first video call opened my eyes to one of the many tasks PR practitioners have to do. Read the news and keep up with trending topics as knowledge can shape current and future campaigns.
I had an interest in discovering more about client management and through the work of the team at Bednar Comms, I was able to see how an agency manages several clients at one time.
The function of the morning calls was a way for the team to show how they prioritise the weekly tasks. During the call, the team discussed their weekly goals regarding the clients and campaigns. Everyone was so passionate and organised, this showed they cared about the success of the agency.
Day to Day Duties
The first duty I had was to write a press release, the thought of how to structure it led me on a path of reflection to past Uni lectures. As the press release was for a real business, the anxieties of writing something that was not going to be suitable almost took over me, but the team were on hand to banish any worries. After sharing the release with the copy-wiz, positive feedback and tips on improving my writing in the future were received. The worrying thoughts I initially felt were unnecessary because there was no judgement, just encouragement.
There were plenty of opportunities to test my creativity and PR skills at Bednar Comms, and with every task, my confidence would grow.
Throughout the experience, I was able to try different roles within the agency, I helped to compile a range of media lists for some of the current campaigns. I had the chance to write pitch emails for outreach and press releases for various clients; one day, it could be for a business based in Britain, the next could be for one based in America. I was impressed at the diverse range of campaigns that Bednar Comms had to offer and the trust the team had to allow me to be a part of that.
The Virtual Office
The working environment at Bednar Comms is very professional and relaxing at the same time. The awareness and passion for teamwork shows, the whole team was there to give their colleagues praise and joy whenever there was a business achievement. A quality that I personally loved whilst being there.
Although the experience took place remotely, there was never a time where I felt alone. If I became stuck on a task, I knew that the team was a message away.
Messenger applications enabled the team to engage with conversations throughout the day, so even though it was all done from home, the office environment was very much present.
A Round-Up on the experience
The whole 10-day placement with Bednar Comms has been a pleasant journey, the team is helpful and supportive of one another. Everyone has welcomed me in as if I was a full-time colleague.
With the advice and training the team has provided to me, I have grown in confidence in writing press releases and understanding the workings of a PR professional.
I will forever praise the fact that the agency offered me work experience during the pandemic and found a way to accommodate the virtual working situation to work for me.
Thank you to everyone at Bednar Communications!
Advice to future students
If you are a student or want to gain some PR experience, some advice is to search, research, and outreach. Find an agency, look at what type of PR they specialise in and their case studies. Once you are happy with what you have found, send a personal email that highlights who you are, what you want and how they can help.
Side note* If you have an online portfolio showcasing your work, attach the link in the email. Every bit of information about what you can do will help.
It is important to remember that not every agency will be able to provide placements. If that is the case, do not give up and do not take it personally. Moreover, if you do not hear anything back or if the agency says no. By looking out for agencies that are hiring, you could see where there is a potential space for you.
If you are interested in a work placement at Bednar Comms, do get in touch.