From New Delhi Journalist to UK B2B PR – Test Drive My Job Aakriti Kaushik (@AakritiK)
Aakriti Kaushik, 30 @Aakritik
City: Birmingham, United Kingdom
Mopwater – Describe Your Path to PR.
AK – I was a full time journalist in New Delhi, India, before I moved to the UK to study for my MA in Media and Communications Management in London. This was a turning point in my career when I got the opportunity to work closely with PR agencies. I found the PR industry in the UK to be entirely different than India, in the sense of creativity. Which is why I decided to switch to PR and landed my first agency-side B2B PR role as a Senior Account Executive with London-based Say Communications. And, I am very glad to have made the right decision.
Mopwater – Describe a pivotal moment in your career.
AK – My first PR job was the steepest learning curve in my career since it involved heavy technical writing around the engineering industry. I was a business student at school and had limited knowledge about the IT and engineering sectors in the UK. I was lucky to have a supportive team who really believed in my skills and allowed me to fully grasp the client functions and practice my technical writing prior to taking on entire campaigns.
Mopwater – Describe your workday and work environment. What is a typical day?
AK – My typical day starts with a coffee (the only one I have in the day) while browsing through my twitter feed that typically contains global news updates. I have an hour’s commute each way to work when I either read relevant content on twitter or work on PRBuddy. My current place of work is a B2B agency called Prova PR located in the beautiful town of Warwick in the West Midlands. We are a friendly team of ten, where I, as Senior Account Manager, look after environment clients in the waste management and renewable sectors. No two days are the same and the day ends even before you know it started!
I tend to spend most of the mornings on writing and reading as I feel creatively inspired during the day. Then we sometimes have conference calls and client meetings in the week, and sometimes travelling to these involves a long commute as they are spread across North and South of the Midlands. I tend to monitor the news and twitter activity every now and then and have regular catch-ups with the team on assessing media relations activity.
Mopwater – What is your favorite thing about this role?
AK – The best part about this role is the absolutely incredible mix of client work. We work across projects that include government policies on waste management and recycling to writing PR content around retail IT. I would have loved to be in this role for 5 years, however, this is a maternity cover until end of 2013, which will be re-assessed once the contract is over.
My dream project has always been to champion the cause of PR education across the world – which is coming alive in the form of PRBuddy.
Mopwater – What is PR Buddy?
AK– PRBuddy is a knowledge bank and information sharing portal for PR students, graduates and anyone breaking into the PR industry. It’s a global portal that aims to connect students with industry professionals, enabling networking and sharing of bestpractice across regions and cultures. I identified the need for such a community since students of Public Relations and Communications and graduates are many a times faced with a challenge of lack of resources and information. Especially when we look at international and cross cultural PR issues, there aren’t many resources that paint the picture of how PR in India, for example, is different from PR in the UK or US and the bestpractices that can be shared. That’s one of the many gaps that PRBuddy aims to bridge with advice and live mentoring from global experts.
I will be looking to develop the project further in 2013, working across professionals and students in as many regions as possible. I would like to see PRBuddy as a one-stop solution for students and graduates, where they can connect on a global level and share best practice.
Mopwater – What are your favorite and least favorite PR tasks?
AK – The beauty of PR and social media is that you are surrounded by brilliant ideas all the time. My favorite tasks are any that involve writing. I love writing and blogging. Nothing inspires me more than a good piece of writing work, be it a book or a blog.
My least favorite is producing boring strategy documents when they are genuinely not required. In my previous client-side role I had to sometimes work on plans and strategies that indeed helped raise awareness of the PR function internally. However, sometimes you can do without that report which is only going to be a waste of half a day’s worth of creative work or pitching to a wonderful journalist!
Mopwater – Who are some of your clients? What kind of work do you for those clients?
AK – We work with clients in the waste management and automotive sectors across the UK. My role is to look after all the PR activity as Senior Account Manager – starting from producing high-quality content in the form of press releases and blogs to pitching to attending client meetings. I play a key role in ensuring our clients are happy with what we do and we constantly deliver. That means managing a team of people and constantly being on the lookout for potential news or PR hooks.
My most successful project to date has been a celebrity endorsement campaign that I helped organised for my agency. This was for a client in the VoIP business who wanted to launch a service for expats in the UK. We managed to secure some brilliant coverage on the back of the research work and the celebrity – ex-captain of the Indian cricket team- who was a contact when I worked as a journalist in India! All in all, the campaign resulted in increased sales for the client and the agency got nominated for its first-ever technology award with the PRCA!
Mopwater – What advice would you give someone who is trying to break into your industry?
AK – PR is so much more than the glamour on the surface. Especially a career in B2B PR is extremely demanding and needs immense perseverance at times. My advice would be to first be sure on the PR career you wish to be in. People either love B2B or they don’t. It’s simple – there’s no middle way. And once you get the first break, the first couple of years would need an extra bit of hard work to really understand and get to grips within the industry. You also need to constantly evaluate your own performance – this is for yourself to keep a check on what you’re doing right and where further improvement is needed. I see so many journalism students wanting a PR career as it’s considered to be more financially stable. But is that a good enough reason to choose a career? Like a doctor or a teacher, even PR professionals need to be passionate towards their jobs and input their creative best, and not choose a job just for the sake of it.
UPDATE – In June 2013, Aakriti accepted a new PR position, and now works at Police Mutual, the financial service provider serving the UK police members and their families, as social media and content strategy manager.
She writes – “I manage the social media and online content strategy for Police Mutual, the financial service provider to the UK Police members and their families. A typical day involves social monitoring and boosting engagement within the community. And the best part about this role is to be tasked with a strategy that’s carved out from scratch with full ownership of the plans.”
Congrats Aakriti on the new role!