‘Blogging really helped me gain confidence and develop skills’

About the author

Richard Bailey FCIPR MPRCA is editor of PR Academy's PR Place Insights. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students.

frecklesandthoughts1.wordpress.com
frecklesandthoughts1.wordpress.com

The search starts now for UK-based #prstudent bloggers and content creators. By way of inspiration, we’re interviewing past winners, so here’s Niamh Murray, named the UK’s best PR student blogger in 2020 when she was in her final year at Ulster University.

What or who inspired you to start blogging as a student?

Niamh Murray

To be honest, I just took a notion to give it a go. I remember walking home from my placement one day and thinking, ‘I wonder if I could start a blog?’ I decided that no, I couldn’t, because I’d never even attempted writing a blog post before. Then, I remembered that my uni had a PR student blog; so I decided to try writing one and submitting it, just to see if I could do it.

What motivated you to keep blogging?

Normally for the PR student blog, you submit 3-4 blog posts, so I knew that I had to do at least that many. But, after my first post went live, I saw that I got featured on PR Place’s ‘This Week in PR’. That gave me such a wee confidence boost and made me think, ‘oh, maybe I’m not too bad at this after all – I wonder if I could appear on it again’.

My posts appeared a good few times on This Week in PR and that really kept me motivated, because not to sound like too big an egotist, but I loved seeing my name appear on that list.

As well as that, I loved having something to do. I really enjoyed blogging and how it gave me a wee outlet for all my opinions and thoughts. During my placement where I was working 9-5 five days a week, that wee virtual escape was just what I needed.

What did you expect to be doing once you’d graduated?

Student success

Travelling, ha. After my planned post-graduation holidays, I honestly hadn’t a notion what I’d end up doing. I expected to working full-time and blogging a bit on the side if I had time, but beyond that I didn’t have any specifics worked out. As long as I didn’t have to write another dissertation, I didn’t mind what I was doing.

What work are you involved in today?

I currently work in digital advertising and analytics. So, when you go on a website and see ads on it, I’m one of the people who put them there. Sorry. I also monitor website and ad campaign performance, and use market and customer insights to help provide support materials for the advertising team. Bit of a mixed bag, really.

I still blog sometimes, but nowhere near as much as I should. I’m hoping to start writing more when the pandemic ends and everything isn’t about COVID.

Did your blogging and social media presence help you to get there?

Well, seeing as I have hardly any social media presence, I feel like that one’s a no. I don’t know if my blogging directly helped me get to where I am, but I know that it definitely did indirectly.

Blogging really helped me gain confidence and develop skills, which I do believe helped me get to where I am now.

Like, I think it made positive changes to me personally, so that in turn affected and helped me professionally. 

What tips do you have for today’s students to help them prepare for life after university?

I’m not sure anything or anyone could’ve prepared me for post-graduation in a pandemic, to be honest. Hopefully, though, current students won’t have to worry about that. 

The main thing I’d say really, is not to expect to walk out of uni after graduating straight into a job where you’ll work for the next 30 years. I think there is far too pressure on young people to launch straight into a job and career as soon as they graduate; not to mention how unrealistic that is.

My advice would be to make sure they think about what they actually want to do, and if they need to take time to do that, then do. You’ll likely be working for the next what, 50 years? So, you don’t have to rush to start now. I don’t think it’s worth being in a job you don’t enjoy or that doesn’t help you reach your potential, just for the sake of being able to start sooner.