Every year here at Solent, our CIPR representative organises a little liaison event between students and PR professionals called Meet the Professionals. This year I’d like to think it was very successful. Not just because we had our own hashtag which you can see in the title (although it was very helpful) or the fact that it was organised by the lovely Claire Hodson, our own course mate, but also because of the number of people that turned up and especially left satisfied.
The event kicked off with two guest lectures, the first one was given by Bill Reed, Managing Director at St. Cross Group. He talked about the importance of opinion leaders and their influence as well as how to manage communication with this stakeholder group. I couldn’t help but think about one of our most recent course discoveries, and might I add a heavily used tool this academic year, the VMM (Valid metrics matrix). The way in which Mr. Reed explained his topic linked in perfectly with what we had been introduced in our PR Strategy unit.
This lecture was shortly followed by David Clare’s presentation (Programme Executive at 33 Digital) on social and digital media and the many uses these have in the PR world. I found this very helpful not only because I am writing my dissertation about luxury brands and their use of social media, but also on a personal level. He encouraged us to try as many social networks as possible and to experiment with our profiles while keeping in mind how we can make them work for us.
After the two lectures we went on to the “speed dating” part of the night where, in small groups, we were able to discuss with the professionals, ask them questions and find out more about what it is they do. Just like last year, I found this part of the evening to be extremely interesting as we had the opportunity to learn new things about the industry from active practitioners.
I noticed that, while I was at the first table the answer to the question “What exactly do you want to do after uni?” was a total mistery but as I was going from table to table asking questions and interacting with the PRos I found myself forming an opinion about the field I wanted to work in. And I observed the same thing happening with my fellow students. By the end of the night I had a pretty good idea about I believed would suit me and where I could use my skills better in the PR world.
All in all, I can say I enjoyed this evening of networking and even gained something more from it, not just contacts, but also an idea of what I’d like to do in the future. I can only hope that my fellow course mates felt the same way and that the professionals enjoyed it as much as we have.