After completing a four week work placement at the Phoenix Partners, an integrated marketing and communications company, I can only describe my experience as unforgettable.
My work placement, which was to be completed as one of my course requirements, has given me an in-depth understanding of the life of a Public Relations Officer. I was fully integrated into the day-to-day duties of the Public Relations Manager as well as other office duties, but as a Barbadian working for the first time in the UK, it was somewhat of a culture shock.
In terms of experiences that pertained to my course of study, there were several, but the experiences outside of that can’t go without mention.
When I started on the 12th January, I honestly didn’t expect to really be involved in anything significant. I thought it would more have been an initiation where I would be introduced to staff and projects they were working on – generally given some time to settle (especially since I was extremely jet lag as I had just got back from Barbados the night before).
However, on my first day I was given instructions to become fully acquainted with two of their biggest clients via internet, brochures, newspaper articles or through magazine clippings they had collected. Surprisingly, I was then asked for my input into a proposal for one of the clients, details of which I then had to draft into an e-mail for the client’s perusal.
This was followed by phone-calls, the drafting of a press release, a contribution to website content and a very interactive staff meeting.
So after this first day, I decided to prepare myself for extremely busy days, because after all, if the first day was that busy, shouldn’t I expect the same or more for the days to follow?
However, the days following were a mixture of calm and flurry, with some days being much more exciting than others. I was involved in drafting e-mails, contributions to newsletters, compiling media lists, drafting blog posts and of course – press releases.
During my time there, my writing skills have definitely improved, especially after being asked to write, re-write and redraft press releases. That was honestly the hardest part of my placement and at some points it was quite discouraging. In the end, I definitely improved, but it took some time.
Furthermore, I am proud to say that two of my press releases were actually in the Leicester Mercury.
Other than that, I accompanied the PR Manager to a networking meeting as well as a meeting with the editor of a local newspaper. In addition, I was involved in four mail-outs where I folded, stuffed, stuck and packed invitations, letters and newsletters.
Looking at another side of things, I also had to get accustomed to the culture of the organisation: whether it was the constant smoke breaks outside the building or the fact that every staff member makes the tea at least twice during one week. I was even reprimanded at one point for making a single cup of tea for myself.
Overall, I found that everyone worked really well together and everyone always seemed willing to be involved in any task, even the daunting job of mail-outs. At staff meetings the Managing Director was always eager to get input from all staff members and she never hesitated to point out the importance of having a mixture of employees from differing backgrounds to make contributions.
I truly believe that this work placement not only gave me insight into the world of public relations but was also a valuable experience in terms of the culture of a UK organisation.