Zoe Baldwin graduated from BA Public Relations at Leeds Met in 2007, she then moved to London to work for Channel 4 and now works for Romley Davies Publicity, an Entertainment PR agency.
Alongside both her studies and career in the PR industry Zoe has also been working on a brand new website Students Love Uni (SLU) since her first year at university.
Students Love Uni is an information website aimed at prospective and current university students. The website is both a city and town specific guide, advising students about the best things in their city such as clubs, bars, restaurants, things to do when the parents come to stay and much more. Equally we have a guide on generic student living such as student loans advice, health and careers.
During her course Zoe knew that it was crucial to get as much work experience under her belt as possible if she wanted to succeed in the PR industry.
“I always loved the vocational nature of the Leeds Met PR degree. I was always encouraged to secure placements to build my CV, portfolio and above all work experience. Whilst at Leeds Met I tried to cover a variety of PR sectors including working at Beattie Communications working with clients such as Specsavers and Leeds United, in the NHS Direct press office (which later became a paid role as an internal comms officer) the West Yorkshire Fire Service and for Halifax Town AFC where I organised a half-time dance with a local dance school.”
Zoe also opted to do a placement year in industry after the second year of her course and managed to secure a year in London working as a European Publicity Intern within the Marketing department at Warner Bros. There she worked across a variety of films including Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Superman and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
When preparing for her first interview Zoe says she read and rehearsed a lot of practice questions, making good use of the Guardian’s Careers Section.
“I think the key is to have an example of every quality you mention on your CV. I always read my CV cover to cover before my first interview and every interview ever since.”
Zoe had always loved film and TV so, for her, working in entertainment PR was the perfect combination. Although a popular choice for lots of PR students it can prove a difficult area to work in. The hours and dedication to the job can sometimes cover seven days a week 24 hours a day. For example Premieres are always on an evening or weekend as are journalist screenings and, as an entertainment PR , you do your daily 9-6 job and then cover the evening and weekend work usually without time in lieu or overtime.
Zoe decided to create the Students Love Uni website as while she was studying in Leeds she couldn’t find a one stop shop for up to date nights in Leeds. She wanted somewhere you could log on to and get a quick overview of what were the best and cheapest student nights out. This is where Students Love Uni stemmed from and has since grown from a Leeds guide to a national website.
Zoe chose to involve current PR students in the creation of the website for generating the content.
“I remembered how difficult it was to get work experience so I wanted to help current students and I wanted SLU to have a student voice, and I think that comes across.
I think it is great to get work experience on your CV, but what I sometimes found frustrating was not having much actual work at the end of a placement so I think the work our student writers have completed is so beneficial because they now have an actual published piece of copy for their portfolio and CV and prospective employers can click on the URL and read it.”
As you can imagine it wasn’t always easy for Zoe to balance a full-time career in Entertainment PR with creating a brand new website from scratch. The main challenge she faced was time-management, a skill which every PR professional needs.
“My priority was always my full-time role but I had to be very clever with my time, especially on a weekend to get the most out of my free time. I also found the overall web design process a challenge but I have thoroughly enjoyed working closely with the web designers.”
The Students Love Uni website will be launching within the next week and the future looks bright. As long as the site is current, updated and fresh Zoe hopes it will be a popular information resource for current students and students of the future.
“My advice to somebody studying in their final year of PR would be to reflect on what experience you have gathered so far and what you have enjoyed. Then I would suggest a final year PR should focus on the area of PR they have enjoyed the most i.e. agency, events, NHS, Corporate or Government PR etc. That way they can start to build up the experience and contacts immediately. If you’re unsure keep trying all aspects until you know which area of PR you want to work in.”
Students Love Uni is always looking for contributors. Although they might not be able to provide work for everyone as it is very much dependent on which city a student has studied in and whether they’ve already had copy written for that city or town. But there will always be other writing projects whether that’s feature news pieces or reviews.
If you would like to get involved with the Students Love Uni website please contact Zoe firstname.lastname@example.org