Case study

PR officer — Luke Peterson

Luke's career began at the University of Bedfordshire, where he obtained a BA Hons in Sports Journalism followed by an MA in International Journalism. He is now the communications and content officer at the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Trust

How did you get your job?

I started off as a sports journalist, a job I landed through the University of Bedfordshire's work experience connections. While studying for my Masters, I was introduced to the Head of Communications at the university, who helped persuade me to join the world of PR by joining the in-house press office. From there, I gained experience in the field and eventually secured my current role to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

What's a typical day like as a PR officer?

Not all PR officers do the same job. Some are charged with only pitching stories to the media and hosting or conducting interviews, some will only produce content (written and/or multimedia) and others act as 'guardians' of their brand, looking after its image and reputation. No matter which sort of officer you are, working in PR will involve a mixture of head-down office-based work, meeting new people and finding media opportunities within your organisation.

What do you enjoy about your job?

My favourite thing about being a press officer is seeing people enjoy your work. We take for granted the joy of reading a really good article or book, but being the person responsible for that joy is a great feeling.

What are the challenges?

The most challenging aspect of my job is finding the time to cover and write about all the things you'd like to. Even when you've narrowed the focus of your work down to something more specific, there are endless elements to it. You could promote something through a number of different channels, but don't always have the capacity to do so.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My sports journalism degree gave me the skills necessary to become a reporter and introduced me to a whole host of different types of writing. My Masters allowed me to put this understanding into practice and context - essential for someone tasked with communicating. Both of my degrees contained units that allowed me to branch out and expand my skill set, which opened me up to new career opportunities.

How has your role developed? What are your career ambitions?

I started my career writing match reports and interviewing sports stars, and now I promote veterinary science. Having this range of experience means my current team trusts me to lead our communications - my role is actually that of a manager. It goes to show that, by going to university, you can tailor your career to suit you.

How can I get into PR?

  • Utilise your university's contacts - Most journalism or public relations departments in universities will have contacts in the industry. Use them - ask about work experience opportunities and potential freelance work, request feedback on your work or even just ask for some informal advice.
  • Find your subject matter - The key to becoming a successful communicator is to find a subject you're really passionate about. Producing a feature shouldn't just be a case of reciting source material, it’s an opportunity for you to learn about something interesting.
  • Do the dirty work initially - My very first commission was an unpaid match report of an under-18s football match, sat in the pouring rain by the side of a pitch on Bonfire Night with stewards asking me if I had permission to be there. By the end of the week, the newspaper had employed me.

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