Name: Orlagh Shanks
University: Liverpool John Moores University

Course: Business and Public Relations
Twitter: @orlaghshanksPR
LinkedIn: @orlaghshanks

Why did you choose to study PR?
I chose to study PR because I wanted a career that involved creativity, people, energy and where every day was different. I didn’t want to spend my life in an office working with numbers, even though I was good at it and this was what my teachers and parents expected me to do.

I knew if I wanted a career like this, I would have to ditch the security of an Accounting degree

Being from a small town, I was drawn in by the celebrity, music, fashion and entertainment worlds and dreamt of one day being a part of them. I didn’t have a firm grasp on what PR was or involved when I first started the course, but it was my friend’s brother that persuaded me to follow the career. He had just graduated from the course I am on now at LJMU and was working for a record label as a publicist. He was living my ‘dream career’ (work trips to New York, LA and Nashville) and I knew if I wanted a career like this, I would have to ditch the security of an Accounting degree and go after what I wanted.

What has your course involved?
My course has developed a lot since I started. In my first year I learnt the basics of communication, dealing with publics, corporate communications, media relations and crisis management. Second year looked at the digital side of PR but also gave a better look at business in general, with modules in marketing and human resources. This year (my final year) we are studying campaigns, event management, change management and corporate social responsibility – as well as the dreaded dissertation.

What has been the most interesting aspect of studying PR?
The most interesting part for me was finding out how many varying career paths there are in PR and that the opportunities are endless with jobs available in almost every sector/industry out there. The options are there to become the comms manager for the NHS, or crisis manager for Brexit or even Justin Bieber’s publicist.

PR allows you to follow your passion and love what you do.

There are so many varying routes to follow within PR which makes it so appealing as you can work in any industry of your choice. PR allows you to follow your passion and love what you do.

Have you done a year in industry placement?  
My placement year was optional, but when I started my course I knew I wanted to spend a year gaining experience before graduating. I spent my placement year with Coty in London, working in the Luxury Influencer Marketing department. It was the best year of my life and gave me so many opportunities that I never could have imagined. It exceeded every expectation and showed me the life I could have, working in PR. It confirmed the kind of PR I want to work in once I graduate.

Have you any other PR experience? 
I have experience working in various PR agencies for short periods. I have interned with fashion, corporate and entertainment agencies and also worked part-time in Internal Communications during my second year of university. I have recently returned to my Internal Comms role after finishing my placement year so will be working part-time while finishing my degree.

What are your aspirations for after university?
From carrying out my placement year, I know that I don’t want to dive right into full-time work and start making my way up the career ladder once I graduate. I will only be 22 and have my whole life ahead of me to work. I hope to travel and see other parts of the world while also gaining PR experience along the way. I want to see how other cultures practice PR and learn from them.

Which PR blogs, news sites and websites do you read?
I often visit PR Week, Scott Guthrie’s Influencer Marketing blog and other PR students’ blogs that Richard Bailey posts on his PR Place site. I enjoy reading other students’ thoughts on current affairs surrounding the PR world and also follow along their journey to becoming PR professionals.

Who is your PR inspiration?
I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint one particular person, or one in the PR industry as so many people in business inspire me every day. Rosie Davies, Jane Woodhead and Cathy Martin opened their agencies to me for work experience and inspired me to one day open my own PR agency. My Director at Coty, Jane McCorriston, shared so much wisdom with me during my placement year that will stay with me throughout my entire career. Her way of leadership is also how I aspire to lead in the future.

Blogger and Influencer Victoria Magrath (In the FROW) constantly inspires me with her work ethic and attitude to life.

Samantha Barry (Editor-In-Chief of Glamour US) although not working in PR, motivates me to follow a career path similar to her own, being from Ireland and having made it as Editor at one of the biggest magazines in America. Blogger and Influencer Victoria Magrath (In the FROW) constantly inspires me with her work ethic and attitude to life.

I also consider my lecturers and connections on Twitter (through my blog) such as Richard Bailey and Conor McGrath to be mentors in a way, following along with my journey in the PR world, giving advice and support when needed.

I think all of us in the PR world are on our own little journeys as we have our own interests, skills and passions which allows us to have such varying roles in varying sectors but the same common ground of PR. Hard workers, those with a positive attitude to life and those who aren’t afraid to go after what they want, inspire me every day.

What are your tips for A level students considering a PR degree?
I would recommend researching the degree and having an understanding of what PR is before choosing the course. It would be beneficial to talk to others that are studying the course or have graduated to get a feel for what kind of job they can have afterwards.

I’m so glad I chose to study PR

I’m so glad I chose to study PR, and it was the description of the course, my friend’s brother and the city that were my main reasons for choosing it. I never imagined to have the placement year of a lifetime, to start a blog or have a firm idea of what I want to do after graduation but it all started with choosing to study PR.


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