James Hall, originally from Blackpool, graduated from Leeds Met in the summer of 2011.
Just one year on he’s already got the job of a lifetime as a publicist at Discovery Networks. He is the central point of contact for eight different countries across Western Europe, promoting shows, working with high profile television personalities and organising press trips around the world for international media.
Having the responsibility of driving publicity for eighteen different TV channel brands, James’s working life is eventful! “I like working with stress!” he says – “I would hate working in a 9-5 job, that just isn’t me”.
With a job like his you have to make yourself available almost 24-7, but that doesn’t come without the perks – travelling around the world, meeting international colleagues in Miami, hosting media in the middle of the desert in Chile during production of a new TV show, to working with talent on the red carpets of Copenhagen Fashion Week.
After graduating last year, James has gone from being a northern student in a non-red brick university to an internationally-known publicist. His big break came when he interned with The Walt Disney Company, where he was thrown in at the deep end working with likes of Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and the Jonas Brothers.
“I once had a really difficult job interview after graduating – it ended in me and the interviewer arguing about if I’d ever really tried hard in PR as they put down my work experience. I’ve been lucky to work on amazing TV shows that are popular around the world and talented (but demanding) TV personalities. I’ve learnt so much from the senior executives I have worked with. Some PR folk who work in other sectors seem to think working in entertainment is ‘fluffy’, but believe me it is not!”
Although James always knew where and what he wanted to be, he decided to live in Manchester after graduating to be where his friends were and spend some time up north before moving back to London. He landed himself a job in a B2B PR agency, while passing opportunities to move to London and improve his employability through the contacts made at Disney.
He says “The biggest struggle I had was going from working in Disney to going back to reading books in the library. After I’d had a taste of my future career, nothing else could compare to it.”
While working in B2B he kept telling himself “I’m learning something different – at least I’m getting experience”. However, having no spark or passion for his job started to get him down. One morning he woke up with a sudden epiphany that he needed to go back to London. So he turned his career around in a few weeks and joined Discovery Networks.
When asked what the most enjoyable experience of his career so far was, he replied, “Career? I only graduated twelve months ago”.
Nevertheless, he told me his proudest moment was in New York, three months after joining Discovery. He had organised a press visit for journalists to meet the cast of ‘Mob Wives’, a highly popular reality TV show in America. After securing interviews and giving unprecedented access to journalists with these real Mob Wives, he walked into the concrete jungle of Times Square.
To his surprise he ended up staring in awe at the all billboards to find the Mob Wives new season advertisements and a video montage of the new series – it was then he realised that he had his dream job.
“My one bit of advice is; to get your foot in the door and never look back! All you need is that one break, and you’re off! Also, be wary of work placements that work you to the bone and don’t pay you a thing! If you’re capable of doing a good job you should be getting paid for it. I don’t believe in working for free when you’re perfectly qualified. Some people tell me I will burn myself out – maybe I will. But until then I’m doing the thing I love.”