Case study

PR account executive — James Watkins

An enjoyment of the marketing modules of his MSc in Sport Management led James to a career as a PR account executive. Discover how he secured a job at a digital PR agency

How did you get your job?

After completing my MSc in Sport Management at Loughborough University I began working in a sports marketing team at a fitness brand. A lot of agencies are based in London and at first I thought that would be the best place to fast-track my career, so I found a job working for a sports PR agency in the capital.

Working for such a specialised consultancy enhanced my knowledge of the industry, but also made me realise I wanted more variety in my clients. I also discovered that London agencies aren't necessarily any better than those in other areas of the country.

I moved back to Nottingham where I gained my undergraduate degree in sport and exercise science, to take a job at digital PR agency Tank. I was attracted to the company's wide client base and the fact that it combines traditional PR with innovative digital marketing.

What's a typical day like as a PR account executive?

There are activities that you do most days; such as talking to clients and the media, drafting press releases, blogs and social media posts, but generally every day is different.

I'm mainly based in the office, but even that isn't constant as I go out to meetings and work at publicity events.

What I do is influenced by clients' needs and they all have incredibly varied requirements depending on what is going on in the news and within their own businesses. Some days I'll be helping a client launch a brand new product, on others I'll be arranging an interview or writing a feature. It certainly keeps you on your toes.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The best part of my job has to be the variety. The range of clients I work with at Tank is huge, so I get to learn about a lot of different sectors. Among others, I'm currently working with one of the UK's biggest palletised freight network, a dynamic recruitment consultancy and an international branding agency.

Getting to know each of the accounts and securing great press coverage that makes a real difference is a brilliant feeling.

We're always busy here but it can also be a relaxed environment so we have a lot of fun as a team. We socialise a lot but it never feels like forced fun, we're genuinely all good mates.

What are the challenges?

It can be quite difficult keeping on top of everything, since you work on multiple projects at the same time. You need to have exceptional time management skills and know how to prioritise your workload to stay afloat in this role.

PR is a fast-paced environment, and when journalists or clients are demanding and you've got a lot on, it can be quite stressful. It's all worth it though when you get a top result for your client and see all your hard work pay off.

What are your career ambitions?

I'm hoping to be promoted to account manager soon and to keep moving up from there.

There's a lot of room for progression in PR, but you have to be driven to get to where you want to be.

As with any job, you often need to move companies to advance. This can be hard when you've found somewhere you really enjoy working, so if you find an agency that values promoting from within and developing staff it's worth trying to get your foot in the door.

Luckily Tank is like that and as we're experiencing growth at the moment, there are lots of exciting opportunities available.

How do I get into PR?

It sounds obvious but one of the best things you can do to improve your chances is to get some relevant work experience. If you can, get a placement at an agency or in a local media outlet.

Do your research. Read, listen to and watch as much press coverage as you can. Find out which PR agencies are near you and try to get a feel for who their clients are and what they do for them.

If you have an interest in a specific industry, it's worth seeking out PR work in that area. The more interested you are in what you do, the more you are going to be genuinely passionate about it. You might find, like me, that a different route actually suits you better.

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