Tag Archives: students

Advice to PR Students for a Dream Dissertation

It is coming to that time of year when PR students start thinking about what else they have to finish on their dissertations… or hat they have to start in some cases. With only a few months left and much research to be finished and analysed, notes to be typed out and checked, bibliography to be finalised, appendices to be organised – the end only seems a million years away. But I promise you not, the day you hand in the 3-inch thick bible will soon come!

I have pulled together a few top tips which I think helped me get through the endless amounts of paper and sleepless nights.

Don’t panic

It is important not to panic about how much time you don’t have, but think about what you have left to do and plan your time around this. Take a deep breathe and think happy thoughts about how good you will feel once you hand your final piece in.

Be organised

I believe that the most important element of getting through your dissertation is to keep organised. You can waste so much time if your papers are not organised or your documents aren’t saved correctly – so as it’s a new year, take a few hours to organise all the work and reflect on what you have done so far. Put it all into files which state what your research is; interviews, questionnaires, discussions, findings, journals etc… Before doing anything else, I assure you that this will help clear your head and put you in the right frame of mind to continue.

Timetable your work

You may find it useful to keep a calendar on your wall where you work, as this lets you see how much time you have left, and helps you section off different periods of work. Draw one up and try to stick to it!

Keep writing

Most of you will still be researching, whether it be primary or secondary, I found that the best way to keep your thoughts was to write it all down. As you read, discuss and interview make sure you are keeping a track of everything. This can be done in the style of a log book or just in your research file – which will help you when you come to writing out your findings.

Talk to professionals

Alongside conducting your dissertation methodology, it may also help if you chat with professionals on your topic. It is classed as part of your research and can still be counted. If you have a placement position, it would be recommended to talk to the team – gage their views, opinions and advice. They may let you in on something you never thought of.

When conducting my research, I used Linkedin to speak with professions around the country about my topic – I even gained a great contact in Spain who helped me find the information I needed. Therefore, use your professional social media tools and engage with people. The other advantage of this is it lets people know what you are doing and allows them to see you working… you never know where this may lead.

Time to check

The worst thing you can do is to not leave enough time to check your work efficiently at the end of writing your 15,000 words. Make sure you leave enough time for this, and ask friends or relatives to read your dissertation through for you – as they will see mistakes you won’t.

It is a difficult process but you will get to the end – Good luck!

SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS… CONSIDER YOUR VIEWERS

Following on from my previous post on managing your social media foot print, I thought it maybe beneficial to look at a selection of different social media tools used for networking, how they are used, what their audiences are and how they will portray you.

Facebook is a very ‘friendly’ platform, where as long as your settings are tight, you can display funny images, quirky comments which you use when around your close friends. They have also introduced ‘Private Groups’ which can be used for creating personal pages for just you and a select group of friends. This way, you are not showcasing your whole life on Facebook and leaving yourself open to any negative comments or mistaken reputation issues.

It is important to realise that Facebook is a showcase into your private life, so do think twice about what you display online.

Twitter is a more professional tool than Facebook, and I think this has not been understood and realised by many students. There is the temptation to use Twitter as you would your Facebook updates, but the problem with this is – Twitter is visible to EVERYONE! Therefore, finding things out about people is easy.

I believe the best way to use Twitter, especially for young professionals and PR students is to use it as a sharing information tool. Share stories in the news, comment on discussions of a professional nature, connect with potential employers and most importantly network.

Linkedin is a tool which is very similar to that of Facebook, but again more professional. I think of Linkedin as a professional Facebook page, where my main aim is to connect with those I work with or want to network with. It is a great way to see how well-connected people are in your business area and a great way to find out who works at which companies. From this, I recommend that this tool is used in a professional and career-developing way.

Another concern I want to highlight, is that a lot of students, young professionals use their Facebook pictures (images of them out on nights out), as their Linkedin profile picture. I wouldn’t recommend this, as it does require a more professional image which can portray your employability.

I think blogs are a fantastic way of showcasing your work. This is especially relevant for PR students, as they are asked to produce a PR portfolio, therefore having this online is a great way to publish yourself. Again, this is a great way to show potential employers what you are capable of doing, your past projects, what work you have been involved in and also how you write and communicate.

It is crucial that when starting a blog you decide what your blogs aims are, and how you want to show this. I read many blogs which are just career-developing, or used to showcase work, but I also I read blogs which have specific topics, are for comedy value or are serving a purpose of discussing a certain topic.

Following on

All of the above tools can be linked together to increase your SEO and your online footprint. Although, you may want to think carefully about linking Facebook to your professional tools. Facebook can be altered by other people, for example any of your friends can tag you in stupid pictures, write things on your wall  and comment on anything they want. Therefore, for me, this is too uncontrolled to be seen in a professional light, as someone else could do something which damages your reputation. It may not be the fact that you have anything to hide, but for your own career development I think access to your personal life should always stay private until you know people really well! But obviously you can all judge for yourselves…

I hope this has been useful in deciding which tools are relevant and for what reasons, what to consider and what to watch out for. Any comments or questions please get in touch.

Students are getting their books at the ready…

But what is really important to a PR degree?

It only feels like a few weeks ago that I was heading back to Leeds after my placement year in Manchester, were I was looking forward to living my last year as a student again. What people didn’t tell me, was how my final year wouldn’t be anything like my first two years of careless living, partying during the week and having the time to watch every episode of Sex in the City, One Tree Hill and 90120…

My memories of final year are mostly blurred visions of stressful long nights spent in the library, debating with group members, having the few early night drinks before collapsing into bed surrounded by dissertation notes at 10pm… a very different university experience but one that I have learnt so much from. This is the experience and advice I think should be shared. Here are a few tips for final year student.

1) Start final year prepared that big nights out will be dramatically lower (unless you don’t mind getting a lower degree mark – or work very well with a hangover!). I can’t – but maybe that’s something to do with getting old!?

2) Prepare for your dissertation early on and think about what contacts you already have. Don’t try to dive into writing a dissertation on PR and celebrities unless  you have contact with celebrities you know will help. It’s all about using the contact you know, so think about this before you choose your topic. I wrote my dissertation based on the contacts I gained through my placement in tourism.

3) Get as much PR experience in the bag as possible. Free time will be short, but putting yourself out there and gaining work experience during your final year will ultimately help you gain that job after graduating.

4) Make as many contacts as possible. Go to the university CIPR lectures and social networking events and make sure you go with questions to ask and a voice ready to talk and network. You never know where contacts will lead you!

5) My final thought for today is to remember to enjoy it! If you don’t enjoy the pressure of final year, you won’t last in an agency or heavy PR environment. The final year prepares you for your future career – so make sure you like it, or you should maybe think about spreading your wings into a another area.

The hard work pays off in the end!