Guest post: PR student helper, Jac

Hi, I am Jac Hunter currently studying BA (hons) PR and Media at Queen Margaret University.

I have recently completed an event management task as part of my course work and I really enjoyed it. I saw the opportunity to help at PRFest 2019 as further experience in being hands on at an event. The added bonus was that I would also gain more insight into PR in practice.

Day One

The first day of PRFest, Thursday, was a typical Edinburgh day, overcast and relentless rain. However this did not dampen the spirits of PRFest founder, Laura Sutherland and my fellow volunteers, Fraser, Jane and Laura mk2. We had all been very well briefed in advance by Laura so found the tasks to be straightforward so we were able to get down to work on setting up and preparing for registration. Fraser was already tasked with being ‘Twitter guy’ which was good as I am not a regular Twitter user and prefer Instagram.

As guests arrived we manned the registration area and guided each arrival to all the facilities and to the tea and coffee area.

Everyone that we spoke to was warm and friendly and genuinely had a real love of PR and open to conversations and discussion on a wide range of topics.

It was agreed that Laura mk2 join the morning sessions and feedback to Jane and I while we were registering late comers. The first speaker, Kerry Sheehan, delivered a presentation on AI in the workplace. This created a lot of buzz and definitely raised a lot of further discussions throughout the day

The morning workshop was on developing and running a digital campaign which seemed to be popular and there was a real buzz from the room.

After lunch and lots of chats with various people the afternoon events kicked off with Laura interviewing Lisa Imlach from Skyscanner. This was followed by the opportunity to take part in a real time crisis simulation. Tamara Littleton from Polpeo led this session which really made everyone think about assigning roles and how quickly a crisis will develop.

The last speaker of the day, Andy Barr, gave a great, punchy presentation on addressing and owning negative SEO. I found it insightful and I learned a lot that will stay with me as I progress towards a career in PR.

What a difference a day makes!

The sun was out and it was glorious. Every one who arrived for day two was filled with the sunshine and ready to go.

The morning session started with everyone asked to share their ideas for further discussion later in the day. This was followed by a panel from PRCA Next Gen. Harry Gardiner from PRCA led the panel which was based around a recent survey of PRCA members. The other panellists Isobel Arrowsmith, Sarah Mooney and Paul Surgenor shared their thoughts on the next generation of PR professionals.

I asked the panel their thoughts on how I, as someone entering a second career and a mature student entering the profession, if this was a disadvantage to me. I was really heartened that the panel and others in the room felt that my life experience was in fact beneficial, with a lot of transferable skills.

The morning continued with a workshop ran by Anne-Marie Lacey and Deb Sharratt, where we had a look at various scenarios around ethics and influencers. This is relevant to what is happening with many influencers online not being upfront about the fact that the are paid to promote products. This was really interesting and made me think a lot about the whole ethics process.

After lunch we continued with a discussion with Sally Keith on PR outwith the London bubble. The research she has conducted shows that many graduates don’t automatically want to head to London to work but value being close to home while pursuing their career.

The final speaker was all the way from Canada, Dr. Amanda Holdsworth who shared her experience with managing and energising teams. I got a lot from this and feel that I learned some useful tools for taking in to my volunteer roles.

Afterwards there was opportunity to chat with others before heading off to the pub.

My experience

I loved working with the team over the two days and look forward to catching up with them all again very soon.

Thanks to Laura for the opportunity to volunteer, to learn and to meet so many interesting people. I look forward to next year.

With many returning attendees PRFest is a great opportunity for senior PR professionals to come together and have discussions on the future, utilising technologies properly and share views on a wide range of topics that can be beneficial to the PR industry.

PRFest also promotes integrity and professionalism in all aspects of PR and communication ensuring that PR is being conducted to a high standard which benefits everyone.