June 14th, 2013
Unsworth Sugden has a fantastic reputation of allowing students and young people to come and do some work experience with them, to see if the metaphorical PR shoe fits. I certainly know this to be true; I was fortunate enough to be able to come and do a week’s work experience with USG last July.
In the last year, I have graduated with a 2:1 in American Studies degree and am continuing my University of Leicester journey with a Master’s Degree in Media and Public Relations (due for completion in September 2013), and thought it was about time that I gained some more work experience.
There wasn’t even a question of which company I would email! Director of PR, Hannah Elwell, was kind enough to agree for me to come and do two weeks with the PR team almost a year after my first visit.
Like with anything in life, doing things the second-time around is much less nerve-wracking and you can enjoy the experience a lot more. It was so lovely walking in on the Monday morning to be greeted by people I already knew.
Like with any work experience student, I was invited to a meeting with Hannah where we both laid out our expectations and what projects I would endeavour to achieve by the end of the two weeks. The tasks set challenged my previous knowledge and experience that I gained whilst being here last year.
I was given a lot more responsibility, which I was able to match with the theoretical knowledge I have gained from my MA. My academic research skills certainly came in handy; I was charged with researching various media lists (Contacts and places to send press releases to) for clients, as well as researching arguments as to why clients should make the leap and put themselves on social media websites. This was really an opportunity to put theory into practise!
Other assignments included taking company news and press releases and condensing them into an informal style for a client’s internal newsletter, as well as developing and enhancing staff databases, both paper and electronic. I even had the chance to be responsible for a client’s monthly Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) analysis; I felt quite proud seeing the research I had done be printed and bound and be ready to give to the client in a forthcoming meeting!
By far, the biggest challenge was getting out of the office and into the field – literally. Hannah was kind enough to invite me to sit on client meetings and to attend a site visit to Whittleford Park where we learnt about its history as the Midland’s centre of coal mining and brick making, and its place in the local community, where a client’s development is currently being built.
Overall the two weeks I have spent with USG have far surpassed my expectation; which was elevated anyway! Every member of staff, especially the PR team have been so kind, enthusiastic and were always ready to answer any questions I had or to teach me something I didn’t know. The USG PR den (informally known as ‘the cave’) is a wonderful environment to work in, and I would highly recommend it to others who want to get a taster of what real public relations involves!