I can remember my interview at Magenta as if it were only a few months back, and it’s terrifying to think that it was actually February 2017. I remember pulling up 15 minutes early, paying for the first of many ridiculously expensive street parking tickets, and making my way into Magenta Towers, as it were, back in our old office. Within five minutes of my interview, I remember explicitly telling the two M-People interviewing me one thing: “If you want someone who knows PR like the back of their hand, then don’t hire me.” But, I said, “If you want someone who can bring a plethora of similar, transferrable skills, then I’m your guy.” And thankfully, my honesty paid off!
I researched like no-one’s business, practiced my interviewing skills, printed off my references and made a PowerPoint presentation to highlight my experience. My Doc Martens were complimented, and I’d cracked a laugh within the first few minutes, so I felt pretty optimistic upon leaving the office. I remember getting the call when I was back at university, and answering the phone literally half in, half out of the shower and screaming with excitement down the phone. The four months between that phone call and starting at Magenta seemed some of the longest I’ve experienced, although I did manage to keep up the fun and games (and studying, of course…) at university to keep me busy.
Now, fast forward 15 months, and I am in my final few days at Magenta Associates as a placement student, and I can’t quite believe I am now writing a round-up blog of my experience. Starting a placement seemed to be one of the most daunting experiences of my life, and although I’ve known all along I have to finish and return to university at some point, I’m still in disbelief it’s actually come around quite so quickly. I never could have imagined I would be provided with the opportunities that I have done, become so integrated into the team, and so connected within the world of PR and facilities management.
Throughout my time at Magenta, Esme, my incredible mentor and line manager, regularly held progression meetings to check in on my progress and development. And in each one, I remember being asked at the end of each session, “What are you proudest of so far, and what do you want to achieve next?”, and every meeting seemed to trump the last, to my amazement. When I first started, naturally, I had to do as much research and behind-the-scenes work as possible; to get up to speed with clients, the sector, PR, everything about working life in a busy agency. Now, I have had the experience of managing the company’s own internal PR, its charity partner Clowns Without Borders UK, and working with the team on some of our 20+ retained clients. Some of my most common tasks included:
Copy writing, social media management, attending client meetings and preparing admin collateral, joining the Magenta marketing team and helping redesign the website and marketing plan, monitoring and meeting budgetary and time targets, securing coverage for clients and Magenta itself, assisting with event facilitation, assisting with research and various other team tasks. Particular highlights include being invited to the Sussex Business Awards with the team, where we later won Small Business of the Year, managing to get Clowns Without Borders UK on BBC News, being taken to Lisbon, and achieving my first ever piece of national coverage just a few months in. I doubt I’ll ever be able to put all the experiences and skills I have gained this year onto paper, but I’m so grateful to have learned from such hard working, inspiring and dedicated people.
People often asked me throughout my placement, (and still do now), “So what made you want to do a placement?” or, “What’s the best thing about being on placement?” and every time, I have the same answer – it’s the experience. I simply cannot express the value of being in a working environment for an extended period of time, before having to go out and do it for life. You cannot learn from a book how to behave in an office, how to answer phones, act around clients, handle constructive criticism, humbly accept praise, manage workloads, meet targets and deadlines, and so on.
I am eternally grateful to Magenta and everyone within it for everything I have been able to do, learn, be involved with this year. I started this placement as a media student fresh from university with a hunger to learn about PR, and I leave with a whole host of experience in the sector, knowing that PR is without doubt the career for me.
Keep up with Ollie on Twitter at @OliverLukePR, and follow the rest of the team at: Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / Instagram