As a woman who took a relatively lengthy career break to care for my children, I was interested to learn about the launch of a new scheme by Credit Suisse in London to help senior professional women re-start their careers after taking time out of the workplace. Dubbed the “returnship”, the Real Returns programme is the first UK example of an idea which has been gathering pace in the US over the last few years. The scheme involves returners taking on CV-worthy projects that draw on their existing skills and experience and being paid accordingly. It’s effectively putting a toe back in the water of the corporate world, allowing women - who have perhaps lost confidence in their abilities - the opportunity to prove that they’ve still got what it takes to succeed and that it is actually possible to juggle corporate life and a family. 70% of women fear taking a career break This story really struck a chord with me personally, as believe me, when you’ve been out of the corporate world for a good few years, the prospect of going back is a daunting one indeed. Once you’ve jumped off the train, it’s very hard to jump back on. In fact, a recent survey from London Business School shows 70% of women fear taking a career break. Nagging doubts about whether you can still do your job, whether you’ll be up to speed with new technology and how you’ll combine a working day with the working day you usually put in as the primary carer are more than enough to put you off even looking for a role. Female brain drain I know of far too many professional women –experienced, bright, capable and very well-organised – who have never returned to work after having a family. Not only is this a great loss to the professional world and the wider economy, but it’s also a personal loss for these ladies. All of that brain power, time invested in studying - in most cases for a degree or professional qualification – not to mention years spent climbing the career ladder, potentially sidelined for a future of domestic drudgery or a low-paid job for which they are massively over-qualified!
Alex’s Graduation This week’s blog is in honour of our very own Alex Dobocan, who – after months of working for BlueSky by day and hitting the books by night – graduated from the University of Bedfordshire today, with a Masters in Cyber Stalking.
I am not a career adviser and whilst I cannot tell you what to do, I can tell you what I did and how it worked. I am writing this blog for undergraduates from all backgrounds who might need an inspirational speech or some guidance. Here are three ways to get the most out of your university years and potentially the great job you want. Network. A lot I think I spoke with more people during my university years than I have spoken with in my entire life. For real. Being at university is a great opportunity to meet people (d’oh). But just think about it! Not only have you got your peers (who one day might be influential) but you also have the academic staff, non-academic staff, and external speakers at various events. Interact with as many people as you can without being judgemental – the son of one of the cleaners at my university gave me an internship. I met my best friend by making small chat at the cafeteria and I have this great job today because everyone knew I was looking for one. It’s great to have a network but you have to know how to use it too! So, if you are offering something or are looking for something, make sure everyone knows it! You’d be surprised how fast the word gets around. Be the best you can
Apologies in advance for a potentially un-festive blog post, but I have something I’d really like to get off my chest. I’m very anti-stereotypes, whether they are personal or industry related. One negative action from one individual or business should not, in my mind, impact the reputation of the masses. The PR and recruitment industries are prime examples. For public relations, the perception that all PR’s are involved in spin-doctoring (we’re really not) or spend their time wining and dining journalists (I wish!) is simply untrue. Likewise, the recruitment sector is often considered as a bullish industry focused on financial targets and little else – often to the detriment of candidates and clients. Again this is just not the case for many. The clients we work with all have one thing in common: the commitment to delivering good quality service to all stakeholders. They have a number of glowing recommendations and case studies (trust me they are true – we do most of the interviews for these ourselves!). Imagine my distaste, then, on hearing the latest Kleenex radio advert (bear with me, this is relevant I promise). In this short clip, a voiceover dictates the story of a candidate who, on the day of an interview, wakes up with a stinking cold. As a result, her speech was affected, with words like ‘thank you’ sounding more like ‘dank goo’. The advert goes on to say that, while some may find it impressive that she’s created a new language, the recruiter was less than impressed…
A bit tongue in cheek this but those of you of a certain vintage will remember a song called Time After Time by Cindi Lauper. There was a great parody of this called I'm Billing Time which was aimed at the Legal Profession but it also resonated ( just a little bit) with me. Not with our lovely current clients I hasten to add but a few organisations who never became clients over the the years who haven't quite got what we do. So all together now - to the tune of Time After Time: Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick and think of you Caught up in your campaigns insomnia is nothing new Downstairs at midnight - its coffee time Read a briefcase of documents - I'm billing time Sometimes you call me up and beg me for free advice You're stealing from me and wondering why I'm not nice My mind, my time... are my merchandise Don't make me say this twice If you come to my office or call my phone - I'm billing time If you stop me at parties to whine or moan - I'm billing time
When you’ve just started a new job and you’re asked to write a blog post it could be a good idea to introduce yourself, but it isn’t very original. Background is boring. Or is it? I could say that I was once in a submarine that sunk. I could tell you that I visited five countries in the same number of days last summer. Maybe you’d like to know that I trained as a journalist. I’ve spent countless hours watching criminals being convicted, spent too much time attending village fairs and writing up copy to be cut to a paragraph long. You don’t need a journalism degree to work in PR, but I think like a journalist. I don’t like reading dry press releases and searching for a semi-usable quote. I know what’s interesting and what stands a better chance at avoiding the spike or the bin. Engaging copy with an element of intrigue can come as a joy in an inbox of black and white boredom. A journalism background could be a real advantage in the PR sphere. After all, if you’ve been taught how to write effectively, deal with interviews and quotes, conduct yourself in media circles and know when to hold your tongue (or, more importantly, your pen) it’s a pretty robust foundation. If you want a publication to pick up your press release, it’s important to know what they want in a story. Straight after a journalism degree and into PR. It makes sense. Perhaps it wasn’t such a winding path to the door of BlueSky PR. Was this is my first real lesson in PR? Make it relevant. Make it interesting. A bit of background might not be so boring.
I should start by apologising to everyone for trying to redeem myself through this blog post. I promise that by the end of it there will be some food for thought. So bear with me. Yesterday, myself and a couple of my colleagues attended a training course on how to create effective presentations led by David Josephs. The aim of it was clear. At the end of the training we were given the task of putting together a three minute presentation on a desired topic. This was going to be a competition (so I put my warrior hat on). We can present on anything? My chance to make everyone fall in love with… a fairy-tale (my friends will know this is very typical of me). There I was, a very competitive 5’5’’, well rounded, glasses on, PR professional presenting on… A Never Ending Story (Michael Ende). I was poetic and confident and had the perfect story to tell. I was also ranting, did not respect time and LOST.
Silly season. Every July it rolls around and every year there’s a fresh batch of ridiculous stories that would never make it into the papers in the other months – this year has already given us the Barack Obama broccoli scandal and previous years have given us such delights as ‘Victor Meldrew is found in Space’ from the Sun (would you believe it?) and ‘Squirrel’s on Crack’ from the South London Press… Flicking through the papers in July and August is all good fun – but there’s a definite opportunity for PR in these months that I’m not sure is exploited fully. The papers and magazines are all struggling for good content – they are desperate for stats, info, ANYTHING that they can fill column space with. And you have to believe that a good pitch during such dry times will stand a better chance….surely? Just look at the amount of coverage given to MP’s holidays!
Last week BlueSky PR directors Tracey and Adrian Barrett kindly treated the account executive team to lunch to celebrate our first year with the company. As we reflected on the highs and lows of an incredible twelve months, it dawned on me just much I’ve learned during my time at BlueSky. Although I had practiced many of the necessary practical skills while studying towards a degree in Journalism and Public Relations at Bedfordshire University, there is no substitute for hands-on experience. When I joined the team last year, I had absolutely no knowledge of the recruitment and HR sectors which we operate in. But after an intensive two-week induction programme, I had a great basis to begin work with the company. The in-depth knowledge of the industry which I now possess did not materialise overnight – it slowly developed through research, listening to clients and learning from the rest of the team. I’ve learned that relationships are key to success in the PR industry. Working closely with colleagues, clients and journalists is paramount to productivity. Unless we clearly understand the objectives of the people we are working with, we cannot help them to reach their targets. Communication is the cornerstone of what we do.
So it's that time of year again and Sir Alan is back on our screens with The Apprentice together with his motley crew of helpers and a bunch of fame seeking upstarts many of whom couldn't manage their way out of a paper bag. So although this is entertainment and many of them deserve everything they get, is trial by television really the way to recruit a business partner or employee? I think not. An interesting piece in The Evening Standard the other week made this very point. Written by Lucy Tobin, the piece highlighted another Apprentice lookalikey show called The Intern which pitted unemployed youngsters against each other to win " the job of their dreams". Now while these kids knew what they were letting themselves in for they were a million miles away from the fame seeking upstarts on The Apprentice- these were kids without jobs - some of whom were reduced to tears by the actors set up to test them. And let's not kid ourselves. The TV production company didn't make this programme out of the kindness of their heart to help the unemployed youth of today - they made it to get viewing figures and earn revenue.
The unpaid intern debate is back in the news this week with announcements that HMRC will be probing the exploitation of interns in the PR industry. This comes on the back of reports that, of the 100 firms reported by Intern Aware, an incredible 10% were either PR agencies or companies advertising PR roles. Now forgive me for potentially going off on a rant here, but is it really necessary for PR – and indeed any industry – to use unpaid talent? In my view, if an individual at any level, and regardless of their background, is doing work for a company which it deems necessary, that person should receive payment for their services. Yes an intern will require a level of training and perhaps even more hand holding than someone with more experience would, but they can also prove invaluable for the business.
As it is International Women's Day - and never one to shirk controversy, I thought this may be an apt post for today. It was prompted by some interesting research I came across from one or our business education clients which suggests that women are under represented in high paying jobs not because of discrimination - but because they are not applying for them. Professor Roxana Barbulescu, of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, says “Women are taking themselves out of the running for certain jobs. When they evaluate different possible career tracks they already have the assumption that their applications may be unsuccessful. This is combined with a preference for jobs with better work-life balances and a lack of identity with more stereotypically masculine jobs, such as you may find in the finance industry. In a sense they pre-empt what they think the employers’ decision will be, and opt-out first. ”
I'm sure most of you are aware of the story about Adam, an unemployed graduate who has blown his last £500 on a billboard ad with a huge picture of himself and a link to his website employadam.com. The Telegraph reports that, "The 24-year-old from the Isle of Wight is yet to be offered his much sought-after first job in television production." Now don't get me wrong - I am all for innovation and enterprise - and I really do hope he gets the job that he wants but.... His on-line CV says nothing about what value he can add, and what his previous experience has taught him about the industry he is interested in - it's a wasted opportunity. He says he has sent over 200 CVs but that it is difficult to get across his talent on paper. So why not have a blog with examples of his work and send that instead? Where is his LinkedIn profile? Why isn't he linking in with media production professionals? Why isn't he joining relevant LinkedIn groups and engaging with industry professionals?
For a long time, there has been an ongoing debate about whether or not there is sexism in the media. The treatment of Meghan Markle and the press’ ability to turn a blind eye to Boris’ antics when they chose not to with Theresa May has brought this issue to the forefront once more.
I was talking to a fellow business owner the other week and he was bemoaning the fact that he couldn't afford to put a decent employee benefits package together. "It's so difficult to compete with the big guys when they have their gym memberships, private healthcare and big employee engagement programmes." I asked him what he did to engage his employees - he said "well nothing - as I've said, I can't really afford it." This surprised me. I'm not going to pretend I am some great benevolent employer but there are lots of small things a business can do to make their employees feel valued and engaged. For one thing we always buy a birthday present and a card for our staff, we buy ice creams when it's hot; we are really flexible when it comes to people needing to come in late or leave early and when our four graduates passed their induction we bought them chocolate Olympic medals. We also invited then all to dinner the day before they started so we could all get to know each other. We close for Christmas week and give away a few extra days of holiday rather then making staff take it out of their allowance. We also give staff £50 when they join to buy a picture for our meeting room - so that there's a bit of everyone's personality in there - as well as something to remember people by if they leave.
Hi, I’m Freddie, the latest of the four new recruits to join BlueSky. The reason for my delayed arrival was due to a journalism internship I was completing in Kathmandu, one that represented a stark reminder to me that the health of the UK press is not in the terminal state of decline that many suggest. I returned from Nepal to news that David Cameron had been signing off his texts with the acronym ‘LOL’ to Rebecca Brooks (which he understood to be ‘lots of love’), further exposing the cosy partnership that exists between the tabloid press and politics in the UK. Of course we have every reason to begrudge this situation where politicians often pander to the attention of journalists, however some nations dream for a system where what the media prints has a genuine effect on government. Few places exhibit this better than Nepal where my experiences with the media were chaotic to say the least.
Hi, my name is Kerry and I am one of four new additions to the BlueSky PR team. This is my first venture into the world of PR, and despite having a lot to learn I’m looking forward to getting involved and showing people (including me) what I’m capable of… after I’ve finished the training programme that is! My ideal job hasn’t always been PR, and until recently I’d channelled my energies towards journalism. Writing has always been my passion, and as a student I ensured I found work with local radio stations and newspapers. I went on to complete a degree in Multimedia Journalism in 2008.
Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Carly Smith, one of the lucky four chosen to join the team at BlueSky as an Account Executive. I will be working on the recruitment side of the business. I graduated from the University of Bedfordshire last year with a degree in Journalism and Public Relations. Since then I have spent time interning at Cirkle Communications and worked as a Marketing Assistant at Eshop Retail Group where I commissioned a brand new ecommerce website and introduced the company to the wonderful world of social media.
Hi, I’m Hannah and I’m one of four new members at BlueSky PR. As a recent Geography graduate a career in PR is perhaps not an obvious choice. However, my degree has provided me with a love and knowledge of international issues, as well as transferable skills in research, writing and communication. I am passionate about international development and, during my second year at university, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to Kenya on a field trip. This really opened my eyes to the complexities of poverty, and I went on to carry out an internship at a charity.
The Apprentice is back on our screens for another episode tonight, and I hope they’ve learnt from last weeks’ dismal performance. The first episode provided enough examples of how not to run a business to fill many blogs, but the key lesson I learnt is how not to handle damage control. Both teams were guilty of potentially damaging their reputation. For the boys it was the quality control disaster with their product. Several members recognised the ‘It’s a Bus’ bags were of poor quality, yet they chose to hide them in the bulk order with a retail outlet. The result? An angry customer returning all the products she’d brought – big surprise there.
Hi I’m Vickie, the latest recruit at BlueSky PR. Having graduated in PR and Journalism nearly four years ago I jumped straight into the PR world with a graduate role in a communications agency, where I tried my hand at various PR elements in several industries. Since then I have narrowed down my interests to the HR and Benefits industry and have worked on PR campaigns with key industry leaders over the past two years. In my new role at BlueSky PR I will be bringing my background in the sector to new clients in the recruitment, RPO and benefits industry. My enthusiasm for writing and public relations started during my college years where an interesting combination of media studies and English literature introduced me to the world of creative writing and journalism. I’ve also recently completed a course in digital marketing and am a real advocate of social media as a PR tool – if you want to hear about some of the latest social media news, trends and tips follow my twitter account @VickieCollinge
While recently watching the summer blockbuster Horrible Bosses, I began to wonder why I, and the cinema full of people, found the tales of bullying, sexual discrimination and law breaking in the workplace so hilarious. The story of three friends seeking revenge on slave-driving, egotistical bosses who regularly manipulate, humiliate and undermine them provides some very funny dark comic moments. However I soon realised that the audience were able to identify closely with the protagonists, leaving them thankful for the real life managers they have!
An Irish charmer, a mad inventor, an overgrown toddler and a sociophobic robot walk into a boardroom. The smell of desperation wafts through the tension-heavy air… no, this isn’t the beginning of an awful joke. It’s the grand finale of the Apprentice.
In a twist to the regular format, Lord Sugar decided to postpone the dreaded interview round in the penultimate show of the series, in favour of a fast food challenge. The candidates were set the task of creating, branding, and producing a fast food chain to determine who would reach the final boardroom.
I bought the last copy of The News of The World last Sunday. Not because I supported the paper in any way shape or form but, from a professional point of view, I wanted to own a piece of publishing history. I can't remember a time in my whole life ( almost half a century) an instance of a newspaper closing down in the midst of such a scandal.
Reinvestment was the name of the game in this week’s apprentice task which saw a week of first’s for the show; first coup, first fine and first punishment. Lord Alan Sugar gave each team £250 of wholesale goods with the goal of reinvesting. They needed to go and sell, then buy more of the best sellers and sell sell sell. It’s what every business, from sole trader to multinational, does every minute of the day – surely this would be a simple task for the business elite? Well you would be surprised!
Having just heard the new phrase ‘Connectiquette’ I decided to look into the etiquette of managing connections online. Technology has brought us all closer together. Social networks have provided platforms making it easy to connect with long-lost friends and family, new friends, business colleagues and other people who have similar interests, aspirations and goals. They have also become crucial in job search and career management.
This week, the two teams were tasked with inventing, branding and selling their own biscuit. Sweet.
This week’s instalment of the Apprentice celebrated national stereotypes with the typical Brits abroad dodgy ‘Allo ‘Allo accents creating embarrassing viewing. Lord Sugar challenged the teams to introduce British products to the French market. So with baggage and egos checked in, the teams were off to Paris.
Last week, I felt a bit down in the dumps after watching the Apprentice (get it?) because of the lack of quality in the candidates – and this week wasn’t much better. Even sparkly Irish Jim is losing his appeal.
The task was trash, but the candidates couldn’t afford to be rubbish
After failing dismally to master beauty in last week’s episode, it’s time to see how Lord Sugar’s protégés tackle the beast – and who will be on the receiving end of his pointy finger and pointy, pointy words this week. The apprentices were tasked with making a dog’s dinner. No, Lord Sugar hasn’t just given up any pretence of asking them to do a good job, they were literally asked to make a dog’s (or cat’s) dinner – then brand and advertise it to a group of industry experts.
Once again, The Apprentice didn’t fail to entertain us with the incompetence of the latest candidates. This week the theme of the task was beauty – but most of the scenes were far from pretty. Lord sugar set the rival teams the task of picking and mastering two beauty treatments, then selling them on to shoppers in Birmingham.
It’s episode three and the Luxury Savoy hotel is about to reopen having been refurbished – but it’s missing a few vital things (dun dun duhhhh). The fate of the grand opening rests on the contestants – it’s up to the wannabes to go and get the finishing touches. The teams have to find ten luxury items at cheap prices. Off to M&S then?
With barely any time to digest the first episode of this year’s Apprentice, Lord Sugar has been quick to fire another shameless wannabe. The latest episode followed the usual pattern of girls against boys in a challenge, But this time it involved an original task in a very current (and thriving) market - digital. The candidates were asked to create a new mobile phone app. And the winners? The team with the most downloads after 24 hours. Lord Sugar reminded them that this was a global challenge and sent them on their way.
Hi I’m Andie, the newest member of the BlueSky team. Having studied Public Relations at Bournemouth University for four years and working in industry for a further two, I can honestly say that I love the world of communications. I have been lucky enough to be involved in some interesting and unique projects in the past, and I will be bringing on board all of the skills and lessons I have learnt along the way.
It’s been three months since I took my first nervous steps into the BlueSky office, and I have to say they’ve flown by. As a newcomer to PR, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. My
I'm not very good at these things, but let me give it a go anyway... Some of you know and some of you don't, but tomorrow marks
At a recent presentation training course, run by the brilliant David Josephs, we briefly discussed our fears about presenting. After all, if we’re so nervous, we must be afraid of something!
Reading through Andy Headworth's mostly fabulous 2010 PDF, '50 Top Tips for Jobseekers' this lunch time, I came across one tip in particular that, I'll admit, made my stomach lurch.
Those of you in the PR industry know that most PR companies are filled with passionate, intelligent people dedicated to helping great brands and businesses to communicate with their
In my humble experience of the workplace I’ve already come across many management and HR styles. Some worked well for some personalities, some were great all-rounders and some proved ineffective. I can’t claim to be a manager or a leader, nor an expert on HR, but it’s rare to hear from a subordinate perspective, what makes a good manager. The best managers I’ve ever had all possessed the following qualities, and I’d even go so far as to assert that you can’t go far wrong if you’re:
There’s no such thing as bad publicity… right? The Daily Mail doesn’t seem to think so. In fact, it seems that every other day
Hi I’m Sara and I’m the newest member of the Blue Sky team! I’m a recent English graduate from the University of Exeter. Since graduating I’ve spent 8 months working in contract SEO
Here’s another quick entry with a big hello from BlueSky’s latest ‘newest recruit’. As Stephanie has established a tradition of new faces introducing themelves on the blog, it's now my turn
Just a quick entry to say hi to readers and introduce myself as the newest recruit here at BlueSky. I will be a regular blogger so thought I would take this opportunity to tell you a bit
I had an e-mail shot the other day from a supplier to the recruitment industry. They wanted to test the power of viral marketing and were offering an incentive. All good stuff you might say - great marketing ploy - but then when I read on it actually left quite a nasty taste in my mouth. All you had to do was to mention the supplier on various social networks and you stood a chance of winning a not inconsiderable amount of their services for free. So what's so bad about that I hear you cry? Well what they actually wanted was a plug - not a mention. The examples they gave were announcing on your LinkedIn status that you highly recommended them with their url; telling your friends on facebook that they are your favourite supplier;or that you follow them on twitter and then send out a message to all of your followers saying they should too. "We don't care where and how you give us a mention as long as its clean and legal" they said.
The latest headline to catch my eye was this: “Hosting a dinner party is ‘more stressful than going to work’”. Now, I can perhaps understand if you have a very easy job (was going to insert