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Does anyone work in communications?

(21 Posts)
HomityBabbityPie Mon 17-Apr-17 10:34:41

I've been an EA since graduating from uni but I've always really wanted to get into communications. I've just landed my first comms role (it's mainly admin but with about 20% comms duties e.g. social media and copywriting etc).

I'd like to work my way up from here and would love to hear advice and experiences from some communications professionals. I'm in my late twenties and have a one year old but don't plan on having any more children.

OP’s posts: |
originalbiglymavis Mon 17-Apr-17 10:38:21

What type of comms? It covers a few areas. Have you done any courses?

roarityroar Mon 17-Apr-17 10:40:21

I'm a communications manager, corporate strategic comms with a focus on media relations.

What would you like to know smile?

HomityBabbityPie Mon 17-Apr-17 11:11:17

mavis I'm not really sure yet, what I'm doing at the minute is charity comms. I've never been able to afford any courses sadly.

And I've done stuff like social media, writing copy for newsletters and press releases etc before.

I guess I'd just like to know pitfalls of the job in general and whether it's possible to work my way up given I'm already nearly 30.

I have an English degree and a degree in creative writing.

OP’s posts: |
roarityroar Mon 17-Apr-17 15:20:25

I haven't done any courses. I did PPE at university. You don't need to have studied marketing or whatever and I think actually it's better to have studied a real subject (sorry, sorry) rather than the craft as such.

We're the same age I think. I'm quite young compared to many people on the same management grade as I am (huge organisation) and came from a fairly bizarre but high profile background (don't want to out myself even more) outside of comms/PR, so don't worry about age holding you back.

Pitfalls: I don't think there are any; I love my job. I work within a really interesting industry, which helps, and my role allows me a lot of variety and scope to be creative.

I know (from performance reviews) that I'm doing well because 1. I'm very good at building relationships throughout the business and 2. I can write good copy.
I see way too many people in comms with terrible grammar and an inability to communicate to be honest and once I get to a higher level and have more power over hiring, grammar and writing tests will be a major part of selection. With English degrees I imagine you're fine in this area!

I think you have to be passionate about what it is you're trying to communicate, whatever industry that is. For this reason I would never work for an agency.

Not sure what else to say but please do PM me if you like.

originalbiglymavis Mon 17-Apr-17 15:45:28

If you can write and market you can sell cat food or nuclear power. It's the same process but you just need to learn about the industry players and whatever we issues are relevant.

It does help if you are interested in the product or have a passion for it, but you can focus on the process and enjoy that (I've done both types and it's swings and roundabouts).

There are loads if cheap or free online courses on social media (check our Groupon) and don't think I could afford to do my professional qualifications these days (too bloody expensive nowadays).

Writing is a great skill - I know exactly journalists who could write amazing features​ but can't tweet to save their lives!

It's also about building relationships, planning campaigns, thinking on your feet and using your crystal ball. And spending no money if possible (demonstrating too on any that you do).

Some people do get in via working in an organisation and shifting over or by being high profile or expert in a specific thing (ie a high level sportsperson) and moving into comms.

I wouldn't work agency side because I've been a client for many years and - well to be blunt - have have had many fights over over-charging and plagerisation. My experience​ is that it's very dog eat dog.

If you are doing general comms, get clued up in traditional print and flat marketing process as production. It saves a lot of time and money if you know exactly how things work.

I've always liked working in jobs that covers a range of marcomms, but really found managing a faff.

Amrapaali Mon 17-Apr-17 15:55:05

I work in Technical Comms. User guides, online help and the like. Is that something you would be interested in?

HomityBabbityPie Mon 17-Apr-17 17:02:35

Don't know if that's my sort of thing amra, probably not creative enough for me. Interesting thought though.

Mavis thank you so much, that is really enormously helpful.

OP’s posts: |
originalbiglymavis Mon 17-Apr-17 18:45:28

PM me if you think I can be of any use. I've been in the industry for yonks and have a lot of experience. Ever, sigh, social media. Bleugh. Not my favourite area but the stats do appeal to me on one level.

newnoo Mon 17-Apr-17 21:22:51

Yeah try not to go agency side.

it's tough to get back to client side too.

Though some people love agency - I loved it. Lots of variety to the work. More so than client side. But a shed load of politics. Where's the eye-roll emoticon smile LOL.

Giraffey1 Mon 17-Apr-17 21:27:12

Keep an eye on the PR Week jobs web site. You can search on location, sector, agency vs in house etc, and it will give you a good idea as to what is out there. I'd also join LinkedIn and join a few comms groups. Again, this will give you a good view of the landscape.

AlwaysTheWinner Mon 17-Apr-17 21:31:33

I do. I would say, get clued up on digital communications, especially analytics and making videos/animations. It's all about creating content which people are going to want to engage with/share and you need to know the stats to know how successful your campaign has been. If you're public sector/charity, the Comms 2 Point 0 website / Twitter feed is a really great resource. And always be prepared to fight your corner - everybody thinks they can do comms (it's fun! and so easy! hmm) and they don't always want to listen to the professionals!

sparechange Mon 17-Apr-17 21:42:09

I'm the Head of Comms for a big multinational, and do lots of mentoring for junior people coming into/recently entered the industry

Without knowing more about your current role, it's difficult to say for certain, but you should be able to apply for Account Coordinator/Junior Account Exec roles in agencies, and work your way up from there

There will probably be in-house roles which combine EA work with a bit of comms but there is rarely much opportunity for progression, and you don't get as much opportunity to muck in and learn new skills.

I would aim to try and do 5ish years in an agency. It should get you up to account manager, or junior account director if you really go for it.

Downsides: the pay is pretty rubbish early on. I'm pretty horrified that starting salaries are the same as when I got my first PR job in the early 2000s - £22-28k for a London agency
It's London centric. Yes jobs exist outside London, but they are rare. And 95% of the press are in London. So if your long term plan is to live outside of commuting distance, it won't be easy
Long hours at short notice, and being expected to be on email and phone outside office hours. If this is an issue for you or your family, this probably isn't the career for you. Reporters and clients don't think being on holiday/at your DC's birthday party/ill is a good enough reason if you don't return their call or answer their email

Once you've been doing it for a few years, the money is excellent. You can get to a six figure salary within 10 years if you are good, and work hard
It's transferable. Between industries and sectors, and between countries. If you want to live in another capital city, it's pretty easy to get a job in comms
It's fascinating, brilliant and eye opening work
If you pick the right clients, you get LOADS of free stuff! And when you go in-house, your agencies take you to lots of fun events and restaurants. I've been totally spoilt going to work events - Wimbledon, world cups, chefs tables etc

PM if you have any questions - I'd be happy to help

HomityBabbityPie Thu 20-Apr-17 10:12:01

Is it worth getting CIPR accredited? Obviously I'm way off that stage at the moment, but was thinking about doing the introductory certificate in a year or so.

OP’s posts: |
Yika Fri 28-Apr-17 19:35:54

I work in internal comms for a big international organisation - public sector. I would say that critical skills for us would be digital and social, analytics and measurement, and partnering with the business (good relationship/influencing skills, and capacity to grasp the key communication challenges and opportunities of a particular business initiative). Career structure very different in our kind of organisation though. I'd advise trying to build a network either in real life or online. Good luck!

Poggymale Mon 01-May-17 16:11:51

I am a communications manager for a large FTSE 100 company. I have found that focusing very much on the customer rather than what internally you think customers needs to know. Its key to interact as much as possible with actual customers to understand exactly how they think - attending focus group sessions is a real eye opener. On the side I also help out a voluntary organisation with their marketing which gives you a different perspective. I would strongly suggest getting as much experience as possible even outside your industry and listening to as many customers as possible.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Mon 01-May-17 16:15:06

If you want to work your way up where you are, from your current role, then I wouldn't necessarily look at CIPR. Is it internal comms you're doing? Is it internal comms you enjoy?

moomoose Mon 01-May-17 16:52:13

Charity comms teams are pretty good at training their staff and promoting within. Its where I started and I haven't got any regrets - it was an amazing learning experience.

I'd make it your business to get friendly with the other external facing teams - usually fundraising, policy, campaigns and something info related - they'll be your 'clients' and knowing how to talk to them about their work/point out gently that they're wrong and couldn't write a FB post if their life depended on it is a valuable skill and will really help you get on!

There are also lots of free courses you can go on through your charity, look at the charity comms meetings, and get yourself to ECF next year if you can - it's sort of aimed at policy people working in charity but is incredibly useful for a comms person too. Plus, really good networking!

pandarific Wed 10-May-17 21:20:16

Sorry to bump your thread OP, but I was looking for similar info - I hope you don't mind!

I work agency side as an account manager, have been at current place a year (B2B) after 2 years as an AE at a B2C PR agency. I now want to go client side - for better work life balance, current place is very understaffed and chronic unpaid overtime is getting me down. What are the equivalent level to an AM roles called, client side? I would quite like to work in the internal comms / HR sector if possible as I have some background in working with these clients.

pandarific Thu 11-May-17 11:25:30


QueenMortificado Thu 11-May-17 11:56:39

Hi panda

The equivalent client side would be a communications executive / or any specific job within any of the subsets of comms. Ie event / digital / brand / PR / internal etc etc

Going in house is a good move (imho), the salaries tend to be better and it's great to hold the purse strings / be someone's client. The downside is that you are only ever working on one brand.

I'd recommend you register to a specialist recruitment agency for a junior in house role. Choose your sector wisely depending on what you want - ie finance is much better paid than fashion but much more dull in terms of content! In depth technical knowledge is largely irrelevant at your role level so don't worry about applying for financial institutions that you won't understand the technical jargon of right away.

When I'm recruiting I look beyond qualifications to common sense and an attitude of getting stuck in. Running an event sounds glamorous but when you're still stuffing goody bags at 10pm the night before it's bloody hard work!

Feel free to DM me if you have specific questions

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