Linsay Brown, Head of Lifestyle PR at Muckle Media
In my role at Muckle Media I’ve had the privilege of meeting a number of young practitioners, students and those interested in a career in PR but unsure where to start. And I often have the same conversation with them, as they struggle to find the ‘right’ career path to start them off on the best possible trajectory.
Someone looking at where I am in my career to date might think I had it sussed and that I’d started the ‘right’ way and progressed up the career ladder at the ‘right’ time. But it wasn’t all plain sailing and in fact at one point I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do and was completely floundering. I’ve since learned that that’s completely normal but for some reason it’s something a lot of people don’t talk about.
I left high school at 16 after completing my Highers, unsure of what to do but certain that another year at high school wasn’t right for me. After going back and forth for a while I decided to try journalism, since writing had always been an interest of mine and something I’d done well with at school. I started at the Glasgow Metropolitan College (now the City of Glasgow College) having enrolled on the HNC in Practical Journalism course.
I had a fantastic time during that year and grew up very quickly, however it’s also where I was told by one particularly attuned lecturer that journalism simply wasn’t right for me. He was completely right and after chatting it through with him I realised I wasn’t going to be the right fit for the industry – but where did that leave me? It was he, Brian, who advised me to try PR as he thought it would be the perfect industry for me.
Now, I have to be honest, my understanding of PR stretched to what I’d seen on reality shows like The Hills – ultra glamorous, constant parties and meeting celebs. Not quite the reality I know now! From that conversation with Brian I started to plan (after, I’m not afraid to admit, a while floundering and being completely unsure I’d ever find the right career for me) and applied to study PR and Media at Queen Margaret University, alongside arranging a meeting with a PR practitioner at a national PR agency to learn more about what the industry was really like.
While ultimately my career path was the more traditional one, it wasn’t quite the cookie cutter path we’re sold a dream of growing up. I actually didn’t set foot inside my university during the second half of fourth year, instead I started an internship during the January of my final year and was kept on, juggling my dissertation with working part time but gaining real experience that I believed (and now know) would teach me more.
PR and the wider communications industry is a bit of a strange one. It’s not one we’re told about during our school years as a potential career path and it’s also not one everyone understands – I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked ‘but what is it you actually do?’. However, it holds incredibly rewarding roles and a fantastic community of practitioners ready to hold your hand and help you navigate your career.
It’s important that we stop focusing on what has traditionally been seen as the ‘right’ career path and instead figure out the right career path for everyone as individuals. For some people completing sixth year at high school, then going on to University and completing a degree before applying for a permanent role is the right path. For others, schemes like our Kickstarters Traineeship programme [hyperlink to info on MM website] are better. Some people learn better through learning the theory behind what we do, while others do better with gaining hands-on experience and learning on the job.
Ultimately, it comes down to you as an individual. Are you passionate about a career in PR and Communications? Do you have the drive to learn more and better yourself? Are you inquisitive and eager to find out more about the industry and clients? Are you willing to put yourself out there and tell an agency or company why you’re the right fit for the job, regardless of what it says on your CV?
It’s time we focus on the people behind the CV and that’s something I’m glad to say we do at Muckle Media. And remember, the people within the industry are just that, people, they’re willing and often eager to help those interested in finding out more about it. Don’t be afraid to approach someone and ask to go for a coffee to learn more about the realities of working in PR. That’s what I did, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t.