Name: Alex Filicevas
Company: European Commission
Job title: Communications Trainee, Cabinet of the Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, Health and Food Safety.
LinkedIn: Alex Filicevas
Did you go to university?
I went to University of Westminster where I studied Public Relations. I also did my study abroad at UTS in Sydney, Australia, which allowed me to diversify my PR knowledge. I strongly recommend going for a semester, or a year abroad to everyone. It will change your view of the world, inspire your creativity and you’ll meet people that you otherwise wouldn’t. So with that study abroad ‘bug’, after graduation in 2014 I received a scholarship to study Masters in International Journalism and Communication in China, and so I moved to Beijing.
it completely changed my perception of corporate being old, boring and grumpy
What was your first job in PR? How did you get that role?
My first steps into the real world PR were at Four Communications in London – an eye-opening experience. I worked in Corporate Communications team and it completely changed my perception of corporate being old, boring and grumpy. It was quite the opposite. I did not have a choice of preference for particular practice when I applied for this work experience, but I am glad that I ended up in Corporate Comms. It inspired me to explore other sectors to find one that is just right.
How did you get from there to your current role?
Whilst living in China, I was working at Edelman Beijing office as an intern for almost a year. It was in a Technology practice, mainly B2B. As it was something that I haven’t done before, I found it particularly exciting. We were working with multi-national companies, but media landscape and relationships with the media are completely different to what we are used to in the western world. Work required a lot of creativity, attention to detail and careful word crafting. All these skills I am now able to apply in my current role as a Communications Trainee, in the Cabinet of the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety. To get this position, I had to go through several selection steps and compete with some 20,000+ other applicants; it is an experience that I would recommend to anyone interested in politics. Being able to work closely with the decision makers of EU-wide legislation and help in communicating what we do here to the world, makes me want to get up in the morning and come to work.
last minute changes aren’t uncommon so we always have to be ready to think quickly on our feet
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Working closely with Communications Advisor of the Commissioner, we work on communicating the priorities and work of the Commissioner. Our main activities include preparing Commissioner’s speeches and presentations, press releases for his visits and of course a lot of social media work. It is a very collaborative environment and different units of the European Commission are involved in the communication work, therefore it requires a lot of careful planning well in advance. And still, last minute changes aren’t uncommon so we always have to be ready to think quickly on our feet.
What do you like most about working in PR?
Finding new and innovative ways to communicate often the same news, is something that I find particularly rewarding, especially in my current position. I also enjoy the fact that you never know what’s around the corner, and even with the most detailed planning, crisis can hit out of nowhere. It is perfect for those who like high pressure environment.
What’s the hardest thing about working in PR?
Like I mentioned before it is a high-pressure environment, so it’s not for everybody, you have to be aware of that. I think it is really important to have a good support network at work and at home.
Who is your PR inspiration?
Definitely Stephen Waddington, I met him a few years back, when I was still at university and he shared his insights of the industry with me. And up to this day, I still follow his blog and seek inspiration from his ideas.
‘T-shaped’ knowledge is what you need to aim for in PR
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
Colin Byrne visiting University of Westminster said, that ‘T-shaped’ knowledge is what you need to aim for in PR – know a little about everything, but find that one topic you can become expert in. That’s my goal. There is so much noise on social, but with time you learn to spot what’s important.
Which PR blogs, news sites and websites do you read?
I try to stay on top of news, so I read a lot of newspapers, online of course, especially politico.eu is particularly relevant for my job right now, but I do follow wadds.co.uk and Holmes Report, PRmoment. Also PR consultancies produce some great insightful content, so follow them on twitter to stay informed.
What are your tips for aspiring PRs?
Find that curiosity in you, it’s definitely there, and nurture it. Read about things that interest you, but also things you don’t agree with, read both left-wing and right-wing media. Follow up on something that you overheard. You’ll be surprised how randomly that knowledge can become useful.