STUDENT LIFE: SARAH PENNY, SOUTHAMPTON SOLENT UNIVERSITY

Name: Sarah Penny
University: Southampton Solent University
Course: English and Public Relations

Twitter: @Sarah_PennyPR
LinkedIn: Sarah Penny
Blog: thejourneyofaprgirl.wordpress.com

Why did you choose to study PR? 
I wasn’t entirely sure what PR was when I first came across the joint honours course, English and PR, but after doing my research into it I was intrigued at how fast-paced it was and how many people didn’t seem to understand what it truly was. 

my course has involved both theory and practice

What has your course involved? 
I have been very lucky because my course has involved both theory and practice. Some of the units I’ve studied have included digital promotion, corporate communications and campaign planning and strategy. Almost every unit I’ve studied in PR has been analysing my knowledge and understanding of theory in one assessment and how I’ve implemented the theory in live client briefs in another assessment, these two assessments combining to make my overall unit mark. These live client briefs have included working for a local agency creating a year long campaign to drive footfall at a shopping centre, working for Rolls Royce creating communications for an internal graduate scheme and, most recently, taking on a charity as a client to promote an event. 

The digital side of PR fascinates me

What has been the most interesting aspect of studying PR? 
My favourite aspect of PR is the digital side of it, so I loved studying the theory and some techniques during my second year. I also had the chance to implement a year long digital campaign which included the utilisation of social media and creating microsites and landing pages. The digital side of PR fascinates me because it is constantly changing and adapting to new trends. 

Have you done an industry placement?  
I’ve taken a couple of work experience placements during my time at university, my most recent at Southampton-based PR agency Carswell Gould. I had the opportunity to work mainly on the digital aspects of PR during this placement, which I appreciated because, as mentioned earlier, this is my favourite field of PR. 

Have you any other PR experience?
Close to the conclusion of the placement at Carswell Gould I was offered a part-time job, which I accepted and I continued to work for them whilst continuing with my degree. This is a brilliant opportunity for me to really experience working in an agency and try my hand at working for many different clients across different industries, including maritime, retail and cuisine.

What are your aspirations for after university?
My aspiration is to take earn a place in a graduate scheme in a global company. I love travelling and working with different cultures, something I could only experience in a global company.

Which PR blogs, news sites and websites do you read?
I follow several PR news based organisations over various social media platforms, including PRWeek and the subsidiaries within that including PRWeek UK and PRWeek Hub, and PR News.

I also follow several influencers on Twitter and LinkedIn that I regularly monitor and look back over what they’ve recently said, including Richard Branson, Richard Edelman and the organisations PRCA and CIPR.

Who is your PR inspiration?
I’m inspired in different ways by many different people. I’m hugely inspired by Richard Branson and all that he’s achieved through sheer hard work and a business mind, but I’m also inspired by and follow people who have the job I would like to have in 5 or 10 years time. I find getting a real insight from them, contacting them through LinkedIn and discovering how they got to where they are really drives me and makes me want to succeed.

be willing to take that risk and jump in the deep end

What are your tips for A level students considering a PR degree?
Definitely try and find out more before you sign up, but also be willing to take that leap of faith. Many people don’t understand the importance of PR or misunderstand what it actually is, but most people will find their niche somewhere in the industry. So be willing to take that risk and jump in the deep end. That’s what I did and it was the best thing I’ve ever done.

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