Insight: How I Made It in PR

Fiona Hughes is Head of Consumer Relations at Firefly Communications. Here she shares her insights on the qualities you need to make it in PR and communications.

Fiona Hughes, second from right shares her insights into making it in PR, at the Bright Network Festival. 

When I was asked to speak on one of the Bright Network Festival speaker panels, by James Uffindell, Founder and CEO of Bright Network, I did what I always help my clients to do pre-event: I did my homework.

And I found out via social media that the day's host, Oli Barrett, is a friend of a friend - such is the connected world that we live in. What's more, I found something in his Twitter profile that really resonated: a comment that 'life is a search for people'.  This statement is very apt for my career in PR and the lessons I have learned, and also provided a huge amount of inspiration for my speech preparation to be part of the 'How I Made It' panel at the Bright Network Festival. 

The 'How I Made It' panel discussion was just one of a huge host of events that the Bright Network Festival organisers had put together in one big event.

From all of us, our audience of around 200-300 recent and future graduates wanted advice based on our own career experience.  As I prepped for the session, front of mind was of course how to best make use of the audience's time and on the impression I wanted to leave behind.

I am now twelve years into my PR career and I am back at the agency that I started at, having worked at four other agencies along the way. In this time I have learned a lot about people - but more importantly I have learned a lot about networks.

And this at a time where networks have become social, and the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest and more makes networking an altogether different, easier (I would say, if more time-consuming) ball game.

So it will come as no surprise that I turned to my network, to help me to prepare my answer to such a big question as 'How I Made It'.  And I received back some gems from my supportive and inspirational friends and contacts.  These included:

1. Know the importance of the client 

From Jon Cope, Associate Dean at the School of Creative Industries at the University for the Creative Arts, a reminder that in client services you must always be on the same 'side' as the client.

2. Have a good attitude

From Lynsey Morris, Account Director at Freud, the importance of good attitude, high enthusiasm and (my favourite) developing contacts.

3. Never believe you've made it

From Chris Whitaker, agent to Olympic and Paralympic athletes, a humbling statement that he has not made it and will never believe he has...

4. Say yes!

And last but not least, from freelance journalist Claire Coleman a flag to a fabulous quote from the inimitable Joanna Lumley, who advised a group of students to say 'yes', be on time, look gorgeous, show willing and be savagely polite.  As a professional writer, Claire, like many PR professionals, would add learn to spell and punctuate, and then you've got the full career development armoury!

Sharing such great advice, along with my own insights, I hope added colour to my presentation for my audience; not to mention more value than just one set of insights and advice.

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Fiona Hughes, is Head of Consumer at Firefly Communications. You can view her LinkedIn profile here and she can be found tweeting @sohoPRgirl. Read more of Fiona's musings on the Firefly Communications Blog