Name: Erica Miao Tang
University: Goldsmiths, University of London
Course: MA Promotional Media: PR, Advertising & Marketing
Why did you choose to study PR?
I guess it is a bit naïve to say this but I believe in the power of communication. This comes from both my family background and past work experience, as I constantly played a role of the middle person while growing up and learned to understand that I was in fact quite good at mediating between people. Although having worked in interpersonal communication roles quite a lot PR was still a new subject to me especially from a communications theory perspective, so I was more interested in the theory and academic part thus choosing my degree.
What has your course involved?
So far, we have looked at the professionalisation of promotional professions and we also do critical theories which are quite fun. Apart from the academic components, my core course this term focuses on campaign skills and techniques, which also trains researching, data analysis and so on. My electives look at consumer culture and urbanisation and many other interesting aspect of post-modernity and our way of living in a capitalist and digital world.
What has been the most interesting aspect of studying PR?
For me it is the depiction of many seemingly mundane aspects of life. We would really dig own and ask a million questions in seminars and activities. We would look at TV commercials and analyse the motives and techniques involved. This has really led me to think actively about my daily encounters and stay curious, constantly adopting new perspectives and eager to learn.
I plan to stay in London (as this is where exciting things happen)
Will you do an industry placement?
My MA is one year full-time. So no. Having said that, I do plan to find an internship in an agency during summer term. I plan to stay in London (as this is where exciting things happen) and hopefully get an internship and gain some UK based experience and learn about the work culture here.
Have you any other PR experience?
That depends how you define PR. If loosely defined as promotion that’s not only limited to sales, then yes. I worked part-time throughout my undergraduate in Wuhan, China. I worked at commercial art exhibitions as an interpreter, but other than direct translation that required intercultural communication skills. Then I worked in a marketing role for a pub and did their social media and events marketing. Later, I worked at a boutique as manager where I did everything I could to promote the shop and get business (customer service, digital and social, events planning and so on), after which I worked as a freelancer in support of jewellery import business. In my dictionary, almost everything we do now is PR, especially activities that involve communicating something, such as right this moment, I myself is a subject that is being promoted in this very paragraph, and the way anyone writes about themselves is partially PR as we are all commodities too, in managing our online existence and profiles.
What are your aspirations for after university?
My ultimate dream after this MA is to put my skills into great cause rather than merely aiming for income and status. I would love to explore the UK work culture more and learn about everything I can. So maybe work for an agency that often does charitable work or in-house for charities. But since you used the word ‘aspiration’, which means more than just plans, I am going to share my wishes too. I hope I always keep integrity in what I do and work in something I can be truly proud of for the value it creates.
I think Twitter is very useful in getting all this information if you follow the right accounts
Which PR blogs, news sites and websites do you read?
For news, I mainly read BBC and Guardian but also subscribe to many others on Twitter so I also get Vice, Mashable, Wired, Tech Crunch and so on. Quite a mix really. For industry sites I read the Drum, Ad Age, Campaign, PRweek and a few others. For blogs, I keep an eye on our industry big names like Stephen Waddington and Sarah Stimson, I also pay attention to CharityComms website as I am interested in the third sector, and I do read Richard Bailey’s selection of PR students’ blogs (especially my friend Marcel’s blog MK). But really, I think Twitter is very useful in getting all this information if you follow the right accounts.
Who is your PR inspiration?
I haven’t really thought about this that much, but I’d say my course convenor Dr. Clea Bourne (who knows everything about everything) is my role model and has inspired me throughout the course. Oh, and I do have to thank Sam Hodges from Twitter as he led me to start using Twitter properly. There are just so many interesting people anyway and I see strength in every one of them. But I guess it is always good to be humble and eager to learn.
don’t be afraid to ask questions or make mistakes
What are your tips for A level students considering a PR degree?
Read A LOT and stay curious. Once you step in there is always new things to learn, new trend to grasp and new tasks to conquer. And don’t be afraid to ask questions or make mistakes, that’s how we all learn.