Name: Aakriti Kaushik
Company: RS Components
Job title: PR Manager, EMEA
Did you go to university?
I completed my BA degree in Journalism from Delhi University, India and landed myself a trainee reporter role with Hindustan Times, India’s leading English language national daily. I worked as a journalist in India for almost two years in various positions before moving to the UK in 2004 for my MA degree in Media and Communications Management at Middlesex University in London.
My plan was to complete the one year course and return to Delhi to continue working for the publication but thanks to my first agency-side role my (not-so-positive) perception about Public Relations was completely transformed, and I was pleased to discover how different the practice was/is compared to my country of origin back then.
a mix of good timing and my extensive journalism background helped me land my first PR role
What was your first job in PR?
My first break came as Senior Account Executive within the B2B practice at Wimbledon-based Say Communications. I was proactively seeking an opportunity for almost six months and getting nowhere. The role came out of a conversation with one of my PR acquaintances in India who referred me to their contact at Say. Thinking about it now, I feel it was a mix of good timing and my extensive journalism background that helped me land my first PR role.
How did you get from there to your current role?
The SAE role with Say was a steep learning curve where I was required to spend time learning about the UK engineering and technology sector. It surely provided a very solid grounding and after two years I decided to move on to a senior position with another start-up agency that was launched at the beginning of the downturn. This role presented greater opportunities such as developing the overall agency business, so my role wasn’t limited to PR. This is where I realised I wanted to experiment with an interesting in-house position that enabled me to work more closely with internal stakeholders and that’s how I started out within the electronics distribution business with Premier Farnell (where I was shortlisted as PRCA’s in-house professional of the year in 2012) and now with RS Components.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I’ve been with RS Components for almost two years but have recently taken on the EMEA PR role where I look after PR and advertising for the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia markets. I manage a retained PR agency, providing a steer on the weekly product press announcements, ad-hoc press events and on better (exciting) days I get to participate in customer/supplier calls and draft some interesting tech case studies. Some of my time is also spent avoiding calls from advertisers, especially the ones pushing for paid press releases!
real PR value is when a good copywriter or PR professional is able to sway the customer in thinking about and buying into its benefits
What do you like most about working in PR?
No two days are the same in PR. I love the challenge of storytelling within B2B and tech PR. Technology is interesting and innovative and almost everyone can PR new products and gadgets but for me the real PR value is when a good copywriter or PR professional is able to sway the customer in thinking about and buying into its benefits.
What’s the hardest thing about working in PR?
From my in-house experience the hardest thing has been trying to explain to other functions how and why PR is so much more than just a “press release”. And, sometimes also that it isn’t a part of “marketing” in the traditional sense.
I’ve been inspired by several aspiring young professionals
Who is your PR inspiration?
I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some real gems in the industry so it’d be hard to select names, but I’ve been particularly motivated by Harriet Green, ex-CEO of Thomas Cook and Premier Farnell, Janice Fenton, Account Director, Publitek, and Richard Bailey, Editor, Behind the Spin.
Also, since launching PRBuddy in 2012 – my blog aimed at students and young PR professionals around the world – I’ve been inspired by several aspiring young professionals who, among many other things, taught me the spirit of never giving up.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
During my time as trainee reporter my editor once said that being completely present at interviews and listening to your interviewee will guarantee a good copy. And, I agree being a good listener always pays off, because I notice a difference in the writing quality whenever I’ve paid extra attention to the brief.
Which PR blogs, news sites and websites do you read?
Since my current role involves looking after tech and new product/software announcements, I spend a lot of time reading non-PR trade publications like New Electronics and Engineering & Technology. In my spare time I gather content for PRbuddy. I also read Behind The Spin, PRWeek, Mark Ragan’s @PRDaily, Forbes, @Inc, The Economist and PRMoment.
In my experience, those who manage to keep the passion alive for the not-so-exciting days survive longer in PR.
What are your tips for aspiring PRs?
– There can never be a short cut to success and as a young professional one has to get into the extra hard work mind-set from day one.
– Since we all know well how fast paced PR life can be, and most of the times we find ourselves ending up with a tick-in-the-box exercise, so being mindful of the “Why” aspect before starting a career in PR is a good thing. In my experience, those who manage to keep the passion alive for the not-so-exciting days survive longer in PR.
– A badly written copy with typos has no place in PR
– Strive to always become a problem solver for your team
– An open mind and willingness to learn new things is a good thing to have