‘My blog helped me to fine-tune my writing – the most important skill you need as a PR professional’

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.

Jess Ramsey was our first ever winner of the PR student blogging awards back in 2014 when she was studying at University of Sunderland. She’s now an account director at Tangerine PR in Manchester.

As we begin the search for new #prstudent content creators, here’s her story.

What or who inspired you start blogging as a student?

Jess Ramsey

I’d always loved writing; I’ve got a million fiction novels that I’ve started and never got round to finishing (yet). So, when we were tasked at university to manage our own professional blogs I thought it was a great opportunity to flex my writing skills.

We’d originally started writing and managing a blog about something we were passionate about – for me, that was animals – and then our next task was to focus a blog on our industry, so that was certainly a challenge.

What motivated you to keep going?

Writing as me with my opinions was a weird sensation outside of the realms of the many English Literature essays I’d written before for my A Levels.

This task was set as part of a module at the University of Sunderland. My lecturer was practising industry professional, Louise Bradford, who headed up the PR team in an integrated agency in the city at the time.

When I doubted whether I could actually give an opinion on an industry I was so new to and inexperienced with, it was Louise [Bradford]’s passion and knowledge that kept me going and believing in myself and that a student’s point of view and opinions were still valuable and valid.

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

I was one of the lucky ones – after working with Louise at her agency on a placement while studying, she took me under her wing as she set up her own agency, Creo Communications, and I had a front-row seat to a masterclass. I started as a PR assistant with Creo before I graduated, and after graduation day I went full time as a PR exec.

The insight I gained from working with Louise and the time she invested in me really fast-tracked my career. I don’t know where I’d be now if it wasn’t for meeting Louise through the University of Sunderland, it’s certainly not an easy industry to get into on your own. To both Louise and the university, I’m eternally grateful.

What work are you involved in today?

Today I’m an account director for PR and social at one of the best agencies in Manchester (not just me being biased, by the way). I’ve been with Tangerine for nearly five years and I’ve worked on such an incredible range of clients. I handle both B2B and B2C accounts, supporting on strategy development, content creation and more for huge household name clients and incredible innovators. My CV now includes such a variety of clients, from Iceland Foods to Topcon Positioning, and from Specsavers to Comic Relief.

I now lead teams, line-manage, mentor and teach, which is such a privilege and an honour. Creo gave me such an incredible start to my career, which led me to Tangerine.

Tangerine has been fundamental to honing my skills across PR and social. It’s an incredibly supportive business that plays to people’s strengths, so it’s been amazing to be a part of such a talented team while I still figure out exactly where I want my career to take me.

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

Absolutely.

Without a shadow of a doubt my time working on my blog helped me to fine-tune my writing, which is, of course, the most important skill you need as a PR professional. Whether it’s writing content copy, long-form features or even just emails to stakeholders and clients, my blog taught me a lot about communicating clearly and streamlining my thoughts. Beyond that, it was also instrumental in me getting an understanding of content planning and promotion, all the foundations a good PR needs when starting their career.

Winning the blog competition was incredible for my CV and having that listed in my achievements encouraged people to ask, which would lead them to my blog that worked as a portfolio of my skills.

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

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – granted, that’s easier said than done.

Over the years that I’ve hired and managed new talent, time and time again I’ve seen those fresh from university desperate to make a good impression burn out. It’s not a bad thing to want to do well, but it should never cost you your health or happiness. Pressure is a good thing if it’s at a reasonable level, and yes, our industry can be stressful, but you’ll find a lot of the pressure you feel comes from you. Trust in the people that are there to guide and teach you, just like I trusted in Louise, you’ll learn so much that’ll help you progress through your career.