BlueSky PR Blog

What PRs can learn from S Club 7

What PRs can learn from S Club 7

Ain’t no party like an S Club party ©Depositphotos.com/ AnnaOmelchenko I’ll be joining thousands at The O2 this weekend to relive school discos spent head to toe in sequins and roaring the lyrics to ‘Reach’. I’ll still be word-perfect, trust me.   As S Club 7 hit London on their reunion tour, I know by Sunday morning I’ll have lost my voice and be yearning for studded jeans, but I’ll have been reminded that the oldies are often the goodies. We all need little reminders like that.   In fact, leaving behind purple hair mascara and body glitter spray, there are lessons that PR professionals can take with them from a touch of S Club magic. Don’t Stop Movin’   One of the band’s biggest hits tells us “don’t stop movin’, find your own way to it” and it’s good advice for tackling problems. Working out a solution in a way that suits you can be just as effective as taking advice and guidance from others. Innovation and problem-solving, big PR buzzwords, spring to mind here.   It’s a theme that runs throughout S Club lyrics. Their debut single back in 1999 had us singing “don’t stop, never give up, hold your head high and reach the top”, which was encouraging for schoolchildren at the time across the country, but remains so for this generation that have now reached the workforce.   Having reminded myself of these songs, it seems that simple lyrics can be the best. And aren’t we always told in PR to keep it to the point? Our pitches are clear and concise. Our press releases have no fluff or jargon.   Songs like ‘S Club Party’, ‘Reach’ and ‘Bring It All Back’ are catchy because they’re accessible. Just like the work of great PR professionals. More links -
5 business and HR lessons from Game of Thrones – WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS

5 business and HR lessons from Game of Thrones – WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS

I’ve recently started watching Game of Thrones after months of being told how good it was, how much I’d like it and how much I was missing out on by not being a regular viewer.  Well, everyone was right – it’s amazing. Any fans don’t need me to tell them that the combination of power struggles, violence and dragons is practically unmatched on TV. However, while developing an unhealthy fascination with the series, I’ve also noticed a few key lessons that all businesses could learn from.   Build strong pipelines – Nobody liked Joffrey but at least he held King’s Landing together. He may have been utterly loathsome, evil, tyrannical and plain awful, but he did at least carry himself like royalty. However, his replacement Tommen is nothing like that and is, frankly, a poor excuse for a King. Can you really imagine him organising a defence against a siege or charging into battle? The Lannister family didn’t necessarily have a choice, but businesses do, and failing to build effective pipelines leads to poor leadership succession. We all know what happened to Apple and Disney after their leaders initially departed and the same thing could be happening to the house of Lannister, which is currently teetering on the brink.   Surround yourself with good people – You may think you can run everything, but the truth is, to be successful you have to delegate and that means you have to trust those around you. Robb Stark (RIP) made that mistake and we all know what happened to him. Tywin thought he was surrounded by people he could rely on and ended up being slain on the toilet by his own son. And as a result of that, Cersei is now surrounded by a small council made up of in-laws and relics who can’t offer any valuable advice. If you want to be successful, you have to build a good team around you who can offer additional guidance and tell you when you’re heading down the wrong path.  
What Protein World can teach us about ourselves

What Protein World can teach us about ourselves

depositphotos.com/© PaulStringer   Often, on our Facebook page, we jokingly point out our “PR fails” of the week, which have so far included the overhaul of the Conservatives’ #SameOldLabour campaign, and Lego’s off-topic haircut advice for little girls. But the one that has really stood out in recent times is the case of Protein World’s “Are you beach body ready?” campaign.   Unsurprisingly, yet in all probability in keeping with the kind of establishment that has relished recent comparisons of their company to headline-grabbing, boat-burning figure of controversy Katie Hopkins, the “beach body” in question isn’t exactly a body that is representative of most of womankind. So why use that to embody – excuse the pun – your company?   The advert goes pretty far in suggesting that your figure isn’t “ready” to be paraded up and down a beach unless whilst you are doing it, you are so thin that the sun can actually still shine through you and onto other revellers as you glide past, gravity barely able to grab on to anything in order to pull you back down to earth. Well, I’m exaggerating. But as a woman – and a relatively small one at that – I am still frustrated by these companies who aim to shame women in order to boost their own profits.  Really, think about it – it’s a travesty.  
The toughest interview questions and how to answer them

The toughest interview questions and how to answer them

Last week, the media was hit with articles professing to know the “10 toughest interview questions” of all time, rendering offices everywhere pensive, interviewers inspired, and jobseekers mildly nauseous. We all like to think we’d be ready for any interview, poised, brimming with knowledge and somewhere on the spectrum of a highly caffeinated cross between Legally Blonde and Rain Man. So how do potential employers catch us off guard? How best to respond to questions designed to catch you out? And, when the going gets tough, “WWBSD?” What would BlueSky do?
How to become a CEO by going to the movies  

How to become a CEO by going to the movies  

  Did you know there are 400 people in the world who can’t feel a drop of fear? Did you know there is a blind person in the USA who rides a bike everywhere?   I tend to not read business books – they seem to be carbon copies and rather dull. However, I did buy one recently, as its table of contents intrigued me. One chapter title in specific: “How to become Global Chief Executive by going to the movies more often”.  Is that possible? In what world?   In his book, The Rule Breaker's Book of Business, Roger Mavity talks about the importance of being exposed to different environments (this is the chapter I mention above). He acknowledges it is very important to constantly develop professionally, to work on your skills and to be dedicated. However, he also firmly believes you should not be in the office more than 8 hours a day (less if possible). On top of that, he claims that engaging in activities unrelated to work has more value than we could ever think. Visiting an art gallery, exercising, going to a concert or even something as simple as going to the cinema, could make us much better at what we do professionally.   Roger specifically addresses people who claim to be too busy to do any of these sort of activities in three simple and elegant quotes:   “People perform better when they take things seriously, but not too seriously” “People of the workaholic mindset claim that they would like to do more in the way of galleries but they just don’t have the time. What they really mean is that they don’t have the discipline to find the time” “If you want a life outside the office, just buy the (movie) tickets, put the date in your diary and it’ll happen. If you don’t, you’ll become a couch potato who knows a lot about what’s on TV and little about life”    
Lessons of womanhood for those contemplating becoming – or continuing to be – a woman.

Lessons of womanhood for those contemplating becoming – or continuing to be – a woman.

  ©Depositphotos.com/Maridav Sandwiched as we are between International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, my mind has been dwelling on questions of what, exactly, it is to be a woman in 2015. Try as I might, I can’t seem to put my finger on it – is it an instinctive, maternal compassion for others? No, I am not delusional. Is it a pride in our long struggle for equality? No, that isn’t what we are, it’s what we have already achieved. Ah! So is it long, glossy blonde hair and a fabulous pair of heels? No, unless you are looking at the world through the small, fuzzy window of a certain Pink Bus.   One theory I did seem to return to was that many of the females I know, work with, have met through friends or family or even went to school with seem to have an awareness of, an interest in, and informed opinions on women’s rights, and a collective outrage when they are breached. I hasten to add that although this can be said for most of my male friends too, I am leaving you out of my argument for simplicity’s sake (don’t be selfish, it’s International Women’s Day).  
Lessons of womanhood for those contemplating becoming – or continuing to be – a woman.

Lessons of womanhood for those contemplating becoming – or continuing to be – a woman.

©Depositphotos.com/Maridav   Sandwiched as we are between International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, my mind has been dwelling on questions of what, exactly, it is to be a woman in 2015. Try as I might, I can’t seem to put my finger on it – is it an instinctive, maternal compassion for others? No, I am not delusional. Is it a pride in our long struggle for equality? No, that isn’t what we are, it’s what we have already achieved. Ah! So is it long, glossy blonde hair and a fabulous pair of heels? No, unless you are looking at the world through the small, fuzzy window of a certain Pink Bus.   One theory I did seem to return to was that many of the females I know, work with, have met through friends or family or even went to school with seem to have an awareness of, an interest in, and informed opinions on women’s rights, and a collective outrage when they are breached. I hasten to add that although this can be said for most of my male friends too, I am leaving you out of my argument for simplicity’s sake (don’t be selfish, it’s International Women’s Day).  
How telling a Romanian folktale supports diversity

How telling a Romanian folktale supports diversity

  Trinkets given in Romania at the beginning of Spring ©Depositphotos.com/alinbrotea   If it rains on Sunday I might have a bad year.   It’s because of an old Romanian tradition that encourages women to pick a day from the first nine of March and, if the weather that day is poor, that will characterise the rest of the year. But if it’s a fair day, the rest of the year is said to go well for you.   Alexandra Dobocan, my colleague, grew up in Romania and explained that they do this every year. She chose today, and the weather is glorious.   The tradition comes from Romanian mythology that tells the story of a cruel woman called Baba Dochia. She is an old lady – the best translation of ‘Baba’ is granny – who sends her daughter-in-law into the woods to fetch some berries at the end of February, knowing that spring hasn’t arrived, and tells the girl not to come back without them.   Crying and unable to find berries in the wintry forest, the girl is visited by God who gives her the berries so she can return home.
How movies can influence careers

How movies can influence careers

It won’t have escaped your attention that last Sunday night was the annual Academy Awards where the great and the good of Hollywood lined up for their annual back-slapping and selfie festival. I didn’t watch the whole event – I made that mistake a few years ago - but it was splashed all over Monday’s press. Indeed, it was hard to avoid photos of Neil Patrick Harris in his underwear and John Travolta leering uncomfortably in the background.
Not just a company. More like a family. Just not in a ‘Godfather’ sort of way

Not just a company. More like a family. Just not in a ‘Godfather’ sort of way

©Depositphotos.com/mac_sim   Every company has its own, individual identity and BlueSky is no exception. All that good stuff we’re proud of like being the leaders in PR for recruitment, HR and the business and higher education sectors, not just here in the UK, but in key markets around the world. Like our funky new office, our eclectic art collection and the stuffed elephant perpetually emerging from the kitchen. But the best companies are not just about ‘brand’, they’re about people. Which is why, in a way, they are also like families.  And right now BlueSky couldn’t be more like a family because we’re not only producing great work and great results for our clients, we also seem to be producing children regularly.   Fortunately they don’t seem to be cluttering up the shop-floor as yet (the crèche won’t be quite ready for a while) and they do have the unfortunate side effect of taking some of our people out of the line for a while, but we’ve come to live with and positively embrace it.  
Give yourself some head space!

Give yourself some head space!

I had a day of meetings today and, as usual, I went off to London armed with my gadgets. My tablet, for taking notes, writing draft pieces while on the train and surfing the web, and my phone for checking emails and social on the go...and sometimes even making the odd phone call! One of my meetings was at The Honourable Artillery Company. The person I was meeting was a member there and suggested it as a good place for a coffee and private chat.   Upon arriving and having been signed in, I was surprised to find that I couldn't take my bag or any mobile or electronic devices into the lounge areas..they had to be left in a secure locker. While initially I was a bit put out that I had to use a pen and paper to make notes, the whole experience was actually quite refreshing. No-one tapping away..no-one doing that trying to talk quietly into a phone and failing..just the low hum of human conversation and more eye contact than you would ever see in a coffee shop.
A new addition to the team!

A new addition to the team!

Hi, I’m Natalie and it is with great enthusiasm that I write this blog to say hello as the newest member of the BlueSky PR team. I will be working on the recruitment side of the business as an administrator and am keen to learn as much as I possibly can to lay the foundations for a future career in PR here at BlueSky.   Just over a year ago, I graduated with a degree in English and Philosophy from the University of Sheffield and set my heart on a career which would combine my love of writing and creativity with my interest in the media and the evolution of social media. Realistically, I ended up in an in-house accounts role. Much to the dismay of anyone with an accounts-related query at lunchtime, I would spend my breaks with my nose in a book reading anything and everything from newspapers, autobiographies and media textbooks, to novels or, occasionally, the exclusively sports-related publications residing in the office (usually circa 2009 or earlier). I knew it was time to follow my heart (nose?) and am absolutely delighted to be here working for BlueSky.  
A new addition to the team!

A new addition to the team!

Hi, I’m Natalie and it is with great enthusiasm that I write this blog to say hello as the newest member of the BlueSky PR team. I will be working on the recruitment side of the business as an administrator and am keen to learn as much as I possibly can to lay the foundations for a future career in PR here at BlueSky.
Can we celebrate Karren Brady joining the House of Lords?

Can we celebrate Karren Brady joining the House of Lords?

Karren Brady enters the House of Lords this week © Depositphotos.com /pavelrumme Karren Brady had a great hair day yesterday. Oh, and she also became a Baroness.   She is first-and-foremost a business woman, as well as an author, a columnist and a TV personality. Brady is now in the minority in the House of Lords for both her gender and her youth.   According to Official House of Lords statistics in 2012, there were 775 peers able to sit in the House of Lords. Including Members on leave of absence, disqualified from sitting or suspended, total membership was 816. Out of this, in October of this year, there are just 192 women in the House of Lords. And about half of all Members are aged 70 or over. The oldest is 97. The business woman will receive the title 'Baroness Brady of Knightsbridge' Karren Brady is not only female but she’s 45 years old. Yet when I opened today’s paper, The Times of London, the first piece on her new position as a Baroness is a Parliamentary Sketch from Ann Treneman. The headline is ‘Great hair day as Brady joins the ermine bunch’.   Yes, great hair day.   Now I love a satirical, humorous article – I’m addicted to Caitlin Moran’s writing – but this doesn’t feel very funny. And I realise that the concept of a Parliamentary Sketch is to paint an amusing picture with words. These words just seem a little ill-thought through in the same week that we’ve been inundated with stories on the gender gap.
Halloween horror stories

Halloween horror stories

With it being Halloween it seemed to make sense to do this week’s blog on a relevant and often terrifying subject. That’s why I’ve asked the BlueSky team for their worst, scariest or weirdest interview or employment experiences:     Tracey – “When I was in recruitment some of our interview rooms had sofas. One of my candidates was early so he was shown into the interview room to wait for me. When the allotted appointment time arrived I entered to find him fast asleep. I thought he had passed out but it turned out he just had the mother of all hangovers. He was actually a good candidate and later secured a role, but he wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders that morning”.     Vickie – “I once went to an interview where the interviewer discovered he hadn’t booked a meeting room and they were all full. As a result, we ended up having the meeting in the only room available – a storage cupboard! After 20 minutes perched on a box of paper in a very small windowless room, I felt highly embarrassed leaving the cupboard to many amused looks from the rest of the staff. I can only imagine what they thought!”     Kerry – “Not long after I left university, I applied for a job online as a ‘copywriter’ at what was described as a new local publication in my home town. I was invited to interview, and attended on three separate occasions because the first two times I showed up the boss had forgotten he was meeting me. When I finally sat down with him in a dingy room of a rundown office block, he spent the first 15 minutes talking about himself and his wonderful hugely successful career. He then went on to tell me I’d actually be cold-calling for ad sales for a publication that was little more than a glorified monthly newsletter. I’d be paid per ad placement, but wouldn’t be paid for the first month whilst I learned how to use the phone… I made my excuses and left.”     Steph M –
Creativity lies in questions

Creativity lies in questions

  I don’t hold very many answers but I have a mind full of questions.   Radio host Julie Burste talks with creative people for a living. In one of her TEDed talks  she shares the story of novelist and Pulitzer Prize recipient, Richard Ford. One of the great wordsmiths of modern times is, in fact, dyslexic. In a press interview, Ford talks about how slow a reader he was as a child and how frustrated that made him. However, the minute he chose to embrace dyslexia he discovered a new universe – he could now hear the music in words and sentences. Reading slowly, and not fighting it or becoming frustrated with it, gave Ford a different perspective on the use of language.   Ford describes his sense of language as "a source of pleasure in itself—all of its corporeal qualities, its syncopations, moods, sounds, the way things look on the page”.  As he puts it, his writings demonstrate "a meticulous concern for the nuances of language ... [and] the rhythms of phrases and sentences". This devotion to language is closely linked to what he calls "the fabric of affection that holds people close enough together to survive”.   Does creativity come from nature or nurture? © Depositphotos.com/andrewgenn   Julie believes there are four things we can all do to nurture our creativity;  
BlueSky is hiring

BlueSky is hiring

© Depositphotos.com/Iqoncept Are you looking for an administrative position in a busy PR company? Do you want to avoid the daily commute into the ‘big smoke’ but be rewarded as if you were? Do you want to work for a business which is passionate about developing its employees?  If the answer to all these questions is yes, you’ve landed in the right place!   BlueSky PR – the specialists in providing recruitment agencies, talent management organisations and international business schools with PR and marketing communications services – is looking for a PR administrator to join its growing recruitment practice. We offer a very competitive salary, plenty of chance to progress, a friendly working environment, and a structured induction programme.   Salary range: £18,000 to £22,000, dependent on relevant experience.   To download the full job description click here and to apply please send a CV and covering letter to Belinda Harris at hr@bluesky-pr.com
On the beach

On the beach

Every year the PR industry looks for ways to piggy-back the holiday season. And every year for as long as I can remember one of the chief ways of doing this has been by banging out press releases that warn how burned out we become by not taking our full ration of vacation. And, of course, it’s not just good enough to take your leave entitlement – you need to switch off completely by turning off your data, ignoring emails, not looking at the news, spurning calls, etc, etc.     Now while that sounds great advice in theory I’m starting to wonder how useful it is in practice. Why? Because I’ve just returned from what should have been a hugely relaxing break on the Amalfi Coast – Sorrento, Capri, Positano and all that lovely stuff - which has left me feeling more tired and stressed than when I went. Of course part of that would be because we took my partner’s two teenage sons with us (enough to finish anyone off), but also because I actually really like and care about what I do and if you cut me off from it I eventually get bored and frustrated. OK it might sound a bit sad, but how much sitting around a pool or on a beach can you really do without getting restless? Sorry, did you say a heck of a lot? Alright, perhaps it’s just me. Catch me after a couple of days back in the office and perhaps that pool will be looking rather good after all.
Wombats, llamas and Victor Meldrew: PR professionals’ top stories from the silly season

Wombats, llamas and Victor Meldrew: PR professionals’ top stories from the silly season

  Perry the llama on the front page of The Times of London Perry is on the front page of The Times today. He is one of the few to make it to the revered printed paper and he will never care that he was there.   That’s because Perry is a llama.   It’s silly season at the moment in the UK; the period when our media spends a few summer months producing rather frivolous news stories. As it’s not just us, the French call it la morte-saison - ‘the dead season’ or ‘the dull season’, Germany have the Sommerloch – ‘summer [news]hole’, and the Swedish have nyhetstorka – ‘news drought’.   Perry, who made the front page by having his neck measured as part of London Zoo’s annual animal weigh-in, isn’t the only comical story to make the headlines recently. We thought we’d share some of our favourite silly stories with you. Cute wombats, squirrels on a mission and alien thigh bones An adorable baby wombat, rescued from the pouch of its mother after she was hit by a car, also made the print copy of The Times this week.
Right to be forgotten - the thin end of the wedge

Right to be forgotten - the thin end of the wedge

  Having listened to the latest instalment of the "right to be forgotten" debate I am beginning to think that I have been transported to Orwell’s 1984 and a world controlled by The Ministry of Truth. You will all be aware, I am sure, of The European Court of Justice’s decision that links to data that is irrelevant and out of date should be removed from searches on request.   The argument over the “right to be forgotten” ruling ©Despositphotos.com/antb But who decides what is irrelevant – surely that’s a very subjective area? And if links that are supposedly out of date are removed does that mean we are beginning to erase or even re-invent history?       Google in trouble   Apparently Google has got into hot water with data watchdogs for informing owners of sites when their links are taken down – you will remember the case of one of Robert Peston’s blogs disappearing from the BBC website. To me this is censorship – pure and simple – and it’s fundamentally wrong.  
Gender diversity: Let's talk about progress

Gender diversity: Let's talk about progress

  It’s been an interesting week for British women. Not only has the Church of England voted to allow women to become bishops for the first time in its history, David Cameron’s reshuffle has doubled the number of women in Cabinet to eight.   This has seen an influx of articles that insist progress is forging new pathways like never before, yet others that argue change is still desperately needed and, in a way, they’re both right.   Which isn’t surprising when you consider that gender equality is a topic that remains high on the news agenda – inextricably connected to issues of diversity and leadership – and that’s why the headlines this week were littered with “women bishops” and “women MPs”. Headlines like these simply won’t stop being front page news while female representation remains so low.   Essentially, the issue here stems from the lack of women in leadership.  
Down these mean streets...

Down these mean streets...

  How to avoid the dark alleys of corporate jargon @Depositphotos.com/sumners This week The Guardian managed to get hold of the writing style guide that’s issued to its employees by the CIA.  Not all of them are out doing the Jack Bauer stuff, you know. Some just tap keyboards for a living.   Perhaps not surprisingly it seems that ‘The Company’ (as the spooks refer to it) seems to tolerate, if not downright encourage, the sort of corporate jargon that its counterparts in the business world glory in. We may live in the age of communication, but it doesn't mean we’re actually any good at communicating.   So it was refreshing the other day to hear the business editor of one of the UK’s top broadsheets suggesting that anyone serious about really communicating in a report, email, memo, etc, etc should bin the jargon and start writing like Raymond Chandler. Dropping the jargon
Blood donors for cats, Batman and the real power of social media

Blood donors for cats, Batman and the real power of social media

Working in a content-heavy industry I tend to make extensive notes and scribblings. Last week I was working on a press release and looked down to my notepad to see the phrase ‘blood donors for cats’. I had no recollection of writing this and it wasn’t relevant to anything I was working on but it caught my eye and I had to investigate further. It turns out that this was related to the program, Supervet on Channel 4, that my colleague had watched that highlighted the true power of social media. Supervet The program had reported the story of a cat that had been hit by a car and was in desperate need of medical attention and crucially, blood.  Not being a feline aficionado, I questioned whether there was a large enough pool of cats that are willing to become blood donors, but after sending out a Facebook post, the vet received three responses (from owners) while the surgery was taking place. In any other circumstance it would be impossible to contact such a wide network of people immediately and seek help. But by harnessing social media the vet was able to get hold of the right type of cat blood, which I imagine isn’t readily available, and ultimately it went on to make a full recovery. Stephen Sutton And this isn’t the only example of social media being used for real good. Stephen Sutton made the news recently for raising over £4m for the teenage cancer trust at the time of his death on May 14th. This incredible achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the networking potential of platforms like Twitter, Facebook & Google + and their ability to transmit messages to truly global audiences and raise awareness. #bringbackourgirls We’ve also seen the #bringbackourgirls hashtag that has helped to alert the world to the plight of more than 200 kidnapped school girls in Nigeria. While millions of people read the stories in newspapers across the world, it was only through social media that the campaign was really able to get going and build up support that was impossible to ignore.
What to expect from your first job interview

What to expect from your first job interview

  The excitement of a new job “© Depositphotos.com/72soul”   Last week my sister, who is still a student, walked into an interview room for a summer job – she was completely terrified. She rang me up to say she had got the role. It came as a surprise – I could hear it in her voice, as she said she could not answer some of the questions that had been posed.   I guess we all have moments of self-doubt and perhaps the younger and less experienced we are the more we feel the stress of a job interview. But sometimes we’re good! And we should own it!   Perhaps all job interviews are just as important but the real clincher is the first interview into your future career. The job you dream of doing and becoming exceptionally good at. You want to get that one right, leave an impression and make sure you get the call with an offer.   I have read numerous blog posts claiming that the majority of first interviews are unsuccessful for various reasons. So I was also curious to find out how the first job interviews went for the amazing people I share an office with, and what advice they would give to someone attending their first interview. Tracey Barrett ‘’ My first job interview was for Bejam, the frozen food retailer (now Iceland), as a management trainee in 1983. The interviewer asked me to sell them the ashtray sitting on the desk (yes you could smoke in the office in those days). I threw it out of the window and said “You haven’t got an ashtray have you?”  I got the job!  ‘’ Ian Hawkings ‘’ My first proper job interview was for a well-known recruitment firm- they did a standard interview for about 30 mins and then took me onto the sales floor, gave me a bunch of CVs and made me cold-call candidates….while they watched and listened. It was terrifying. ’’  Kerry Gill ‘’ The most entertaining story I could tell you about would be from one of my first interviews after graduating. I’d   Job interview questions “© Depositphotos.com/ andrewgen   applied for a position advertised as a “Content Writer” at a local newspaper. After submitting my CV, a cover letter and a few examples of my work, I was invited for an interview at the office. When I turned up, I realised the office was two rooms above a pub on the high street… not a very encouraging start! When I walked inside, the place was in complete disarray. The walls looked grubby, some of the ceiling tiles were missing, it didn’t smell great and there was stuff everywhere. The staff were all my age and paid me no attention at all when I arrived. When finally someone did notice me I introduced myself and said I was there for an interview. After a few blank looks the girl gave me a scrap of paper (ripped from another person’s CV) to write my mobile number on as the boss wasn’t there. She told me to come back later, not giving a specific time.   ‘’ Foolishly, I did go back. I actually met the boss this time. He guided me into his office (a small room with bare walls, a disproportionately large desk, a chair and a small plastic coffee table strewn with books) sat down and proceeded to tell me that I was going to flog ad space over the phone for unheard of local newspapers all around the Midlands. Cold calling for minimum wage, with an unpaid trial period to “test my abilities”. Needless to say I turned down the job offer when it came two weeks later! ''   Stephanie Mullins’ first real interview was similar to mine; we both interviewed for the company we work for now. We both have some good stories to tell but perhaps some other time. For all it’s worth, I would advise you to expect something different in your interview – I sure didn’t and it took me by surprise.   When Adrian Barrett interviewed me, one of the questions was: ‘’what country had lost a war but came out of it wealthier than when it joined?’’ My reaction: straight face. My answer: ‘’In all honesty, warfare is not one of my strongest points.’’ (By this time I was wondering whether I was still being interviewed for a PR role). But I was able to mention some of the ongoing wars and I proved that I had some knowledge of the war related news stories. I understand the role of that question now.  
We want you

We want you

Today four members of the BlueSky team attended the 2014 University of Hertfordshire Careers Fair. What do PR firms look for when recruiting new graduates? ©Depositphotos.com/iqoncept     Kerry, James, Bruce and Alex manned the BlueSkyPR stand (in apparently rather hot conditions…) and spoke to current students at the University’s Hatfield campus about working for BlueSky and the world of PR more generally. What are we looking for? We are always on the lookout for bright graduates, as well as those with relevant communications experience - and as BlueSky’s dual practices in Education and Recruitment and Talent Management continue to grow we’ll be on the look-out for talented candidates with strong writing skills, high levels of initiative and a natural intellectual curiosity.  If you have a language or two as well, then all the better!  
Is PR to blame for the Monday blues?

Is PR to blame for the Monday blues?

©Depositphotos.com/alphaspirit Rush hour traffic, an overflowing inbox and the working week ahead. Yes, it’s Monday again.   But did you know, you might hate Monday because of a PR stunt?   ‘Blue Monday’ was a name given to a date in January to be the most depressing day of the year – and it was all part of a publicity campaign. It was included in a press release by the public relations agency appointed by Sky Travel.   My colleague, Alex Dobocan, said: “Blue Monday came about as a PR stunt but it seems to have had success and made us all regard Mondays as… well, depressing.   “Whilst we all dread endings and we could agree they are never all that pleasant, when it comes to ending a week we are more excited than anything! So why are we not treating Monday as any other start? - An exciting time to make things happen, to plan and to conquer.” Monday: the day we love to hate   Taking this positive attitude, and inspired by a paragraph on Tumblr, I’d like to tell you a little more about these Mondays that we love to hate.  
Forget the internship, bring on the returnship

Forget the internship, bring on the returnship

© Depositphotos.com/monkeybusiness 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!
Congratulations Alex!

Congratulations Alex!

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.
Diversity in full swing

Diversity in full swing

It was in the news this week that the Royal & Ancient Golf Club (R&A) in St Andrews has decided to let its members vote on whether women should be allowed to join the historic club for the first time in its 260-year history.   As a big golf fan one of the things that’s annoyed me about the sport is the well-documented sexism that still lingers in the corridors of some of the more old fashioned clubs. However, it’s not as if this has been limited to a couple of the more isolated and rural institutions. Only last year Augusta, one of the most powerful and important golf clubs in the world, opened its doors to female members. And both the R&A and Muirfield, the host of the 2013 British Open Championship and another male-only club, are only just catching up with the rest of the world in changing their policies.   But the fact the clubs are even considering a rule change is a positive move. Golf has remained one of the only global sports to actively discriminate against women. Not just by banning them from certain clubs, but also in more general terms - ‘ladies days’ are one such example - and this is surely a step in the right direction?   And the business world also appears to be changing its ways in an attempt to increase diversity. For example, it was also revealed yesterday that female professionals under 40 who work full-time are earning almost exactly the same as men for the first time in history. And women between the ages of 22-29 actually earn on average 0.3% more than their male counterparts. 17 years ago there was a gap of 11% in full time earnings, highlighting the work that’s being done to address the gender imbalance. What’s more, the UK is on course to hit a Government target of 25% female membership of FTSE 100 boards showing that advances are also being made at senior level.   Elsewhere, a number of high-profile women are making waves in historically male-dominated disciplines like banking and commerce. Lucy Baldwin, the 29 year old Managing Director for Goldman Sachs has reached a remarkable position for someone so young. And Angela Ahrendts, the CEO of Burberry, has agreed to front Apples retail division later this year, taking one of the most senior positions in one of the world’s biggest organisations. Obviously, individual achievements aren’t representative of the entire market, but it’s certainly encouraging to see women reaching previously unimaginable heights in the business world.  
Have you thought about your career options?

Have you thought about your career options?

  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
PR Professionals' favourite news stories

PR Professionals' favourite news stories

  © Depositphotos.com/vanillla   Disappearing planes, the evolution of apps and female empowerment have all been discussed at BlueSky HQ this week.     Here in the office we love to share the news we find interesting. We also like to share our successes and keep each other updated with the coverage we achieve. And on top of that, we’re always reading the news that’s relevant to the industries we work in. Now that’s a lot of news. So we thought we’d share our favourite stories of the week with you. Here are the choices from our BlueSky PR professionals –   Vickie Collinge     © Depositphotos.com/dolphfynlow   This was the week we found out that King Digital Entertainment, the London games studio behind the mobile hit Candy Crush Saga, is to make history as the most valuable British internet company to join the stock markets. “It’s incredible to think that technology and digital innovation has become such a huge part of our lives that a simple game makes headline news!” Vickie said. And it’s this simple game that means the company has been valued at $7.6bn (£4.6bn). In fact, data revealed in February showed that the game had 144 million players active every day – it seems that reorganising brightly-coloured virtual sweets is more addictive than we first thought.   Bruce Callander Bruce chose arguably the biggest story of the week; the disappearance of the Malaysian plane. It was a story splashed across the front pages around the globe. This week, flight MH370 vanished with 239 people on board. It was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and made contact with air-traffic control over the South China Sea before disappearing, quite literally, off the radar. As soon as Bruce was asked for his article of the week, “MALAYSIA PLANE” appeared in my inbox. He said: “In all seriousness this is just an awesome story because it’s a proper, old-fashioned mystery. It’s pretty amazing that we can see almost anywhere in the globe through all the amazing technology we have and somehow we can’t find the massive plane that’s disappeared off the face of the world. “I’m also enjoying all the in-fighting between the countries involved and how they’re all doing their own thing to try and find it.”   Stephanie King   © Depositphotos.com/Gorilla   The right of schools to fine parents for taking their children on holiday during term time has been a hot topic in the office. One ski firm has hit the headlines this week by offering to pay the fines incurred by parents who book a break with them. The Bedford-based holiday operator, MountainBase, said schools were "taking the piste" – but perhaps encouraging parents to break the law isn’t the best PR. Steph said: “The idea was probably that it’s good PR for them, but it is really?” This was a serious contender for our PR fail of the week – head over to our Facebook page to see if it won.   Alexandra Dobocan   This week, Alex was inspired by an article we secured on the Financial Time’s MBA blog. It was written by Michele Lagioia, a student at our client school, European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin. Michele writes that the more he learns, the thirstier he is to find out more because he discovers gaps in his knowledge. “I can easily sympathise with Michele,” Alex said, “The article really spoke to me. It made me realise that the more I learn the more I want to learn – partly because the more I know, the more I discover how little I know. “This piece reminds me of a quote which relates to knowledge: ‘There is strong shadow where there is much light’ by the German writer and philosopher, Goethe.”
We’ve lost all comms!

We’ve lost all comms!

I’m sure you’ve all been there; that moment where you’re on the phone to a call centre trying to get through to the right person, amend a policy, or claim through your insurance and the frustration starts to set in. You’ve given your details more times than you can remember up to the point where you almost forget what you were really calling for. And all the while you’re talking to someone who, albeit better than the initial computer you’ve had to speak to, is clearly reading from a script and subsequently unable to really answer your queries.
What Robin Williams taught me about PR

What Robin Williams taught me about PR

Robin Williams at the 2007 People’s Choice Awards   Sometimes you’ll be reading a book or watching a film and something rings so true with you that you could have written it yourself – or you’ll wish you had.   It’s part of the magic of the creative industries – tapping into the way you feel and, all of a sudden, that emotion you thought was exclusive to you is no longer solely yours. You realise that an idea you had dismissed as ridiculous or irrelevant might actually have some value.   As a lover of language, there’s a particular quote from Robin Williams in the 1989 film ‘Dead Poets Society’ that I rather like –   “Avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys - to woo women - and, in that endeavour, laziness will not do.”  
Please stop moaning about the tube strike

Please stop moaning about the tube strike

With all the bleating and whining on social media about the tube strike you’d think half of London’s commuters have to walk across the Arctic tundra to make it to work rather than find an alternative method of transport for two days. The moaning has reached breaking point for me, particularly when there’s an incredible amount of transport options available to commuters.   They could get a bus, which should be close enough to a cylindrical metal tube to fool many commuters. They could get the over ground train which travels through 22 of London’s 30 boroughs and is within 15 minutes walking distance to 30% of Londoners. They could even travel through the air courtesy of the Emirates Air Line which is accepting travel cards during the period of industrial action. There’s also the option to hire a Boris bike, or get someone else to cycle you about by taking a rickshaw across the capital. Commuters could even follow the lead of these innovative gentlemen who rode across London on horseback yesterday, although this may be an option that’s not available to everyone. If you’re truly desperate and the transport links by air, rail and river don’t take your fancy, you could just drive (although it might be better to walk).
Should football be run more like a business?

Should football be run more like a business?

Working alongside recruitment firms and getting to know the world of HR in more depth has alerted me to the fact that, for many UK organisations, talent management is crucial.   Which is why I find it so surprising that football clubs pay no attention whatsoever to this. The recent  firing of Malky Mackay as Cardiff manager means that currently, 13 out of  the current 20 managers in the English Premier League have been in their job for under a year. This isn't a new phenomenon,  seven managers were sacked before Christmas in both 2004 and 2007 which realistically gave them only 16-18 matches to show their potential.   The lack of managerial retention in football can be clearly seen at Chelsea. In just over 10 years, the Chelsea chairman, Roman Abramovich, has paid out almost £50 million to former managers in compensation. This includes an ongoing payment of £130,000 a week to  Roberto Di Matteo. While analysts say football is increasingly becoming more like a business, this is one area where it certainly isn't the case. I can’t imagine CEO’s of FTSE 100 organisations regularly losing their jobs after a couple of month’s bad performance, so why do football clubs do it?   For many potential owners they may see the potential to drop cash and expect immediate results, but it rarely works like this. Stability, according to Richard Bevan of the League Managers Association, is the key to success, which is why it’s baffling to see so few clubs take notice.   You only need to look at the most successful football manager in British history, Sir Alex Ferguson. He was given 26 years to do his job and survived a rocky patch at the start of his career that a manager in the modern game would not be able to endure. If he was sacked before his time Manchester United may not have experienced the mass of trophies that they won under his leadership. The club also showed they recognise the value of planning for the future; the next manager was selected and backed by Ferguson, already giving him an advantage over many of his rivals whose jobs are under almost constant threat.

Social Norms and New Year’s ‘Revolutions’

Since we are still in January and not enough has been said about resolutions here at BlueSky, I would like to bring this topic up, but perhaps with fewer platitudes this time.   In my experience, New Year’s Resolutions are heavily exploited by vendors and not so much by people. There is always a gym that tries to sell you a membership because it’s that time of the year. And there is always some sort of diet you should follow to lower your cholesterol which the radio stations advertise every half an hour. On one hand, corporations decide what we should aspire to in the next year. On the other hand, most people have no idea of what they want, which frustrates me even more than having someone tell you what you want. Eight out of nine people I hear talking about New Year’s Resolutions say things like: ‘’I would like to exercise more, eat  better, be healthier’’…   Do we plan our week in advance on a Monday morning? I do. So then, why can we not plan our year in advance too? People are under the false impression that unless they have world changing resolutions, they cannot have any at all, or not talk about them. And people who ask other people about resolutions expect grandiose responses. None of us is really expected to start a revolution. Why can’t we just aim to learn a few new things in the year to come? Strive to be kinder (As one of our colleagues argues). Read a book, take a cooking class, fly somewhere…  
Snotty stereotypes - why must we use them?!

Snotty stereotypes - why must we use them?!

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…
I'm billing time!

I'm billing time!

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  
Day two. Write a blog post.

Day two. Write a blog post.

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.
There is nothing really social about social media!

There is nothing really social about social media!

There is nothing really social about social media!   I usually have many opinions but every now and then, I need to see how many other people might think alike - in the hope of proving that no one really does and I am the most extraordinary being. What is social media perceived to be and what it is in fact? If we ask anyone what they think about social media, they will say it is a great way to stay in touch with the world around them (friends mostly, news and quotidian events).   But just how social does social media become when it is used as a tool to do business? An ‘enter’ away in a Google search page, the term ‘social media’ will bring up tens of pages on the so called ‘social media strategies’, seminars on social media, workshops on social media, you get the idea. How did, all of a sudden, something that was meant to be about oneself interacting with friends, become so business oriented?   Last year,  in a workshop on social media (mostly Facebook and Twitter)  at the TFM&A  (Technology for Marketing & Advertising Conference) we had a hard talk
Is your story never ending?

Is your story never ending?

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.
Do we give London too much attention?

Do we give London too much attention?

  One of the first things that attracted me to the Blue Sky job advertisement was that it was a PR job outside of London, an unknown entity on most job boards. The vast majority of graduate positions in PR and in most other professions seem to be based in the capital and having experience of commuting in from Hertfordshire in the past, I decided this wasn't for me.   Don’t get me wrong, my feelings for the city haven’t quite reached Alan Partridge levels yet; London is an incredible place with amazing opportunities and diversity. But so are many other British cities and they don’t receive anywhere near the attention that London does. Nick Clegg has even suggested that the capital is becoming a city state, and that this London-centricity is costing us £41bn a year.   This focus on the capital at the expense of the rest of the country could be attributed to the fact that the national media is predominantly city based and even more London focused. The Guardian, for example, has a blog called ‘The Northerner’ as if to show how out of place the region is in a national newspaper.   Or it could be down to the fact that London provides the home for British politics. I'm not suggesting that parliament should be moved to Doncaster, but that the rest of the country should be appreciated in the same way that London is. In the media, politically and culturally London is focused on to the detriment of the rest of the UK. The Independent has claimed that spending on arts in the capital is £62.50 per head compared to the rest of the country which gets £3.60 each.   Businesses relocating to other parts of the UK could only be beneficial to the country and could give a much-needed economic boost to a number of regions. The BBC move to Salford has proved that large organisations can operate just as well outside of London and for a cheaper rate, so why don’t more do it?  
What has happened to intimacy?

What has happened to intimacy?

Photo: © Depositphotos.com Jean_Nelson  No - I am not after marriage guidance but I felt compelled to write about an experience I had last night ( stop right there - that is NOT what I mean).  No -  last night I went to see one of my musical heroes Peter Gabriel at the O2.  And perhaps this is a tell tale sign that I'm getting on a bit but I just wanted people to stop concentrating getting their camera settings on their phones just so in order to take endless pictures and video to share with their friends - and instead just listen and experience the music...and then remember it ...in their heads.    This got me thinking about technology generally and the candidate experience.  So while I found it incredibly useful to be  able to book my ticket for the concert online - once I was there and didn't really want technology getting in the way of my enjoyment of the concert.  And if  I was applying for a job - while I would appreciate the technology that allowed me to do that quickly and efficiently - once I had done it I would expect some level of human interaction.  
Want 10 more years? Play games

Want 10 more years? Play games

Business on the rise or fall, wobbly education systems, healthcare and the USA Government shutdown, I get it! We are all really busy and rightfully so, but is there any time to play games these days at all? Extensive research points out that games can actually increase life span!     I am not a big gamer, in fact, other than my sporadic 'board game nights', I do not play games at all. But should I?  Jane McGonigal (author of ‘Reality is Broken; Why do games make us better and how they can change the world’ ) strongly advises that games can prolong life. And she has facts to back it up.   Clinical trials reveal that games can outperform pharmaceuticals in curing clinical depression and anxiety. Furthermore studies show that parents playing games with their children develop stronger real-life relationships. Just to spice things up a little more, online games seem to be the ideal friendship management tool (I wonder how that works out!).
Women in business – less talk, more action please!

Women in business – less talk, more action please!

The gender balance debate is clearly a hot topic in the BlueSky PR offices if our most recent blog posts are anything to go by! But as someone who is embedded in the HR and talent management arena I couldn't help but put forward my two cents on this issue.   Diversity has long been a desire most – if not all – HR professionals and even some business leaders strive for. But no one seems to know how to make it happen. I've been privy to numerous conversations among senior HRD’s from across the globe and the general consensus is this: current methods of addressing this aren't working. Well that’s great, we’re all agreed then. But when can we draw a line under the conversations and move it all on?   The crux of this little rant comes from an unusual source: the Last Night of the Proms. Now I'm a bit of a classical music fan, but I have to admit I was shocked this weekend to have heard that in its 118 year history, 2013 was the first time a women has conducted on the last night. I think Marin Alsop herself explained my reaction perfectly: “I'm still quite shocked that it can be 2013 and there can still be firsts for women.”  
Women at the top – are we still on this?!

Women at the top – are we still on this?!

I came across a card in a shop recently featuring a ‘Punch’ cartoon and it made me chuckle. It depicted a typical boardroom scene with a handful of middle-aged executives deep in discussion. One of the executives is a woman. The line reads “That’s an excellent suggestion Mrs Triggs, perhaps one of the men would like to make it.”   This cartoon, I later discovered, dates back to 1988. And yet it still rings so true.   Currently, only 21% of the world’s senior management positions are held by women. And you might think that this global figure is not representative of leading and enlightened economic powers like the UK or US. Wrong. The figure is 20% for the UK and a derisory 17% in the US. In fact, it might surprise you to learn that it is Russia that leads the way globally in this statistic - with 46% of senior positions being filled by women. Who’d have thought?  
Slavery in the city, or a quest for profits?

Slavery in the city, or a quest for profits?

It is a recurring theme across all industries that it often takes something so shocking and so tragic, that an industry will wake up to the need for change. One such example of this was the news last week of a 21 year old Bank of America intern who was found dead after reportedly working several all night shifts in the space of two weeks. Questions remain as to the previous health of the individual, but rightly so Moritz Erhardt’s death has placed the culture of banking in the spotlight yet again.   Most people who enter the investment banking industry will be aware they are signing up for some of the most physically and mentally testing jobs in the corporate world. Excessive demands from clients and a desperation to climb the career ladder spur employees on in a never ending game of one-up-man-ship. This type of environment makes it easy to get stuck in a world of constant competitiveness where you can’t let your guard down for fear of a colleague pipping you to that promotion you’ve been yearning for. However wasn’t it this ruthless competition that contributed to the financial crisis – allowing some bankers to lose sight of the bigger picture and place personal gain over social responsibility? The banking sector has been forced to re-evaluate its image in recent years. In doing so the sector has claimed to have made a number of changes to alter its image of what the Economist recently referred to as being home of  “The Banksters”. However the case of Moritz Erhardt raises serious questions as to whether the culture of banking has really changed, or indeed whether it can.
Is 13 too young for LinkedIn?

Is 13 too young for LinkedIn?

This week, LinkedIn announced that in September it will open its doors to 13-year-olds, in a bid to encourage them to start thinking about their futures. Along with this announcement came news of the recently launched university pages on the networking site. The premise is simple; adult professionals can stay connected to their alma mater, and teenagers can brush up on their uni research and career prospects.   Though I applaud the good intentions behind this idea, and agree that information on how to get into certain universities and occupations should be more readily available, I can’t help but feel that this move by LinkedIn is taking things a bit too far.   It’s true that today’s 13-year-olds are far more aware, more mature and more exposed than they used to be, but are they really planning their careers to the extent that they need to be managing LinkedIn accounts? Personally, I doubt it. But even if they are, I don’t think that LinkedIn is the most appropriate place for a 13 year old to take those first steps.   The first and most obvious reason for this is that LinkedIn is a social networking website specifically designed for the professional community, making the site incredibly ill-suited for young teenagers with no qualifications or professional experience. On the other hand, any attempts to make LinkedIn more teen-friendly could risk the site losing the appeal it holds for its current users.  
Should businesses expect students to leave school ready to work?

Should businesses expect students to leave school ready to work?

Once again the debate surrounding school leavers employability skills has hit the headlines with business leaders warning that schools have turned into nothing more than exam factories. Now I don’t necessarily disagree with this comment – in fact I would have to say I do think this rings true. But not because schools aren’t developing the business skills in students. No, I believe this is true because the onus is actually on organisations to develop this in students.   I for one am of the opinion that if there is a problem that needs fixing, fix it! To change the entire education system to suit the needs of every business is nigh on impossible. Not only would any adaptions to the curriculum be a lengthy process, but also with so many varying business styles and requirements, I don’t see that there could be a one-size-fits-all solution.
University isn’t the only option

University isn’t the only option

Last week, thousands of students up and down the country received their A-level grades, with many now looking towards starting university in the autumn. However, results day has brought up much debate on the value of a degree versus other routes into employment. Skills minister Matthew Hancock, for instance, has said that apprenticeships are fast becoming the norm for young people who are looking for an alternative route to university. And who can blame them when tuition fees are now around £9,000 a year?   There’s real value in getting hands on experience learning on the job, and it’s positive to see that big names – such as PwC for example – are recognising the importance of apprenticeships.  However, there still seems to be a stigma associated with them, with some employers viewing them as ‘second class’ to a degree, and it’s vital that perceptions change.