Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Broken Promises:Lib Dems in need of some good PR

With all the political events of the past month, the Liberal Democrats have alienated a large majority of their supporters and are in need of some crisis management and some all around good PR.

This was the Lib Dems official campaign video released prior to the 2010 General Elections and was titled 'Say goodbye to broken promises'. At the time Nick Clegg seemed exactly what was needed; a charismatic and confident leader to rally supporters and convince the undecided.

After the formation of the Coalition Government, Clegg and the Lib Dems stood by their promise to fight any rise in tuition fees. But now all hope for the party has vanished, and the encouraging messages portrayed in the campaign video have been extinguished in a sea of irony and broken promises.

As a student and a supporter of the Liberal Democrats I was appalled to see the sudden U-turn in their point of view and change of values, as were thousands of other students all over the country. Clegg claimed that he had not previously understood the plight of the UKs economy to its full extent. If that’s the truth then why on earth had he been running for PM?

I’m not saying I will never vote Lib Dem again, but I will need a lot of convincing. If the Liberal Democrats want a future then Clegg must resign as leader and someone must step up to the plate to re-establish the party’s traditional values which attracted their supporters in the first place. They must once again distance themselves from the Conservatives, and now also from Clegg.

Are the Lib Dems finished as a political party, or is there still hope for them? All I know right now is that there is a dog flap on the back door of number 10 Downing Street, and it has Nick Clegg’s name hanging above it.
Saturday, 11 December 2010

It's who you know, not what you know

By the time I graduate in 2012, after 5 years at two different universities, studying two different courses, I will be 23 years old with about £30,000 worth of debt. So where exactly will this leave me? Will the fact that I’m slightly older than the other graduates competing for jobs make me more desirable to employers or will they prefer a younger model with more miles left on the clock?

Now that we are reaching the halfway point of our second year a lot of my PR coursemates are talking about their plans to do a Masters Degree to enhance their employability. Although this is something that really interests me, I could never realistically do it due to my age and already huge amounts of debt. However, there are still other options.

Next summer I will be undertaking a few weeks of work experience at London’s Premier PR. This is a really big company and I am immensely excited to make the most of this opportunity. I applied to countless London based agencies over the summer of this year and even managed to get an interview with Taylor Herring. I spent hours researching and preparing for that interview. I knew the history of the company and its clients, I could easily define PR and separate it from advertising and marketing. I started reading the newspapers and I had huge monologues prepared for why I wanted to work in PR and why Taylor Herring. I could have talked for hours about all of that stuff. In the end I travelled all the way up to London for a lacklustre interview which lasted less than 10 minutes. I was caught out with questions like ‘who’s your favourite journalist’ and ‘which PR companies do you follow on Twitter?’ They weren’t interested in any of the grade A material I had prepared. So I’m sure you can guess I didn’t get the position.

I felt pretty bad for the next few days, like I had wasted a great opportunity. But then I found out that my aunt works as a receptionist for Premier PR; one of London’s biggest PR agencies, with branches in LA! Before I knew it I had work experience sorted without even needing to go for an interview. In the PR industry it is definitely who you know and not what you know. Anyway, we are getting way off topic here.

I have found out that Premier PR often offers its work experience students a job after they have graduated (if they impressed during their time at the company of course). So I have found myself thinking which is more valuable; a Masters Degree in PR or a year of actual experience and a steady job? Surely it has to be the latter. Of course this is all purely circumstantial and there is no guarantee whatsoever that I will impress Premier PR enough for them to offer me a job.

In all honesty, I wouldn’t choose either of those options right now. I am only 21 and am determined to make the most of my life. There is so much I want to see and do before I am tied down by jobs and families. When I graduate I want to save up some money and travel a much of the world as possible. The job can wait until after that.

You never know, I might impress Premier PR so much that they offer me a job when I get back from it all. I can dream, cant I?
Friday, 26 November 2010

How did I get here?

Seeing as I am going to be writing about PR and about being a PR student I figured it might be a good idea to explain briefly how I got to where I am in life.

At the age of 16, doing my best Ron Weasly impression, I was pretty ambitious and thought that seeing I was good at science I wanted to be a doctor. So for A levels I made the massive mistake of taking Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Half way through my first year I realised that the last thing I wanted was another 8 years of studying this stuff and decided to withdraw my UCAS application and take a gap year after A levels.

So in the summer of 2007 A level results came out and I hadn't done as well as I had hoped (I knew I would do bad in physics though). I realised that I didn't have any money and couldn't go travelling like I had wanted to. So in my panic I went through clearing looking for a university course (unfortunately my A level subjects left me limited to science based courses). In October I found myself starting a degree in Pharmacology at Southampton University. 

For the first year I loved it. The course wasn't too hard (all exams were multiple choice) and I loved my housemates and the social life. 1st year went by quickly and smoothly. Then in second year it all hit the fan. I found I couldn't take any more science. Pharmacology is all about how the body works, but I couldn't help thinking: you know what, it works. Why question it?

Anyway by the time January exams came around I bit the dust and told my parents I wanted to drop out. I thought they would go mental after having given me so much money over the past 2 years. I was lucky enough to have their support, as well as that of my girlfriend and my housemates.

I spent the next few weeks thinking about what to do with my life. I had always had an interest in the media industry so started looking into courses such as advertising and marketing. I had my girlfriend and all my friends in Southampton and really didn't want to leave them so I started looking at courses at Southampton Solent University (2 years on and I still haven't heard the end of it from my Southampton uni friends). 

I eventually found PR and Comms and after reading into it and doing some internet research I thought it was right up my street. So I phoned Solent Uni to explain the situation and they offered me a place straight away.

This was definitely the best decision I have ever made. I am enjoying every aspect of the PR course (apart from Mark Farwells philosophy unit in first year - this is meant to be a PR course) and am finally heading in the right direction.

I can't wait to graduate in 2012, 2 years older than most of the others with £30,000 of debt. Its a good life. 

Hard work never killed anyone. But why risk it?

This blog has been born out of colossal procrastination. I have two large assignments due in just over a week which I had hoped to make an early start on. However, I find it hard to...find the motivation to work unless its the night before hand in. I could have put the TV on or just gone and had a nap, but that would have made me feel like a failure as I knew that if I want a good degree and a good job I would have to work hard for it.

After pissing some time away on Facebook I remembered that as part of our 3rd year we are required to write a blog. Brilliant. I realised that this way I wouldn't have to get stuck into my assignment but could feel good by telling myself that I'm preparing for next year. By the time I had finished choosing a design and layout I liked it was already 7pm. Brilliant.

I then spent the rest of the evening trying to familiarise myself with other social networking tools which will apparently be vital for a life in PR.

I still don't get the point of Twitter.

No-one else I know uses Four-square.

And I'm pretty sure Diggit was the name of a children's Saturday morning show I used to watch when I was 7....

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Tom Westgate
I am 21 and currently in my second year of a Public Relations and Communications degree at Southampton Solent University and it is awesome. I love hanging out with my friends and I enjoy playing football and rugby and I go surfing with my friends every year! I know when I'm older I definitely want to work in a big city, preferably somewhere hot and on the coast! But before I think about getting a job I want to go travelling. I just want to make the most of my life and see the world! In's allll goood!
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