As my friends and family know, I have always been extremely career driven. At the tender age of ten I was ordering every university in the county’s prospectus’ to my family home, dreaming of a future work wardrobe filled with Chanel suits and Louboutin’s. Okay, so I read a lot of Vogue magazines too, but after completing a eye-opening internship in my first year, I was determined to get more experience under my belt.
Whilst I am terribly lucky to have had such a worthwhile first internship at an amazing beauty and lifestyle agency, and forever grateful, it really put my aspirations into perspective. I learnt I wanted to develop a career in a cause more worthwhile of my time; the environment. Luckily for me, I learnt of a volunteering opportunity going in the Soil Association’s press office from a fellow student. A few phone calls and emails later, and it was in the bag. With this week being my last, I have recognised considerable differences in myself – as a PR student and as a person.
The First Day
My first day started with a surprising lie-in in comparison to my university wake-up call, with still enough time to avoid having to frantically run to catch the bus. Arriving five minutes earlier than told, I was keen to make a good first impression on team – and I think it worked. Despite one of the press office managers telling me they were juggling a few volunteers over April, I was the only one in that day which made it slightly less daunting. After being introduced to the team, greeted with a bar of Green & Blacks and briefed on the all things organic, I got cracking with measuring the organisations coverage for the day and distributing it out to the necessary teams. Whilst I knew measuring coverage was the backbone of public relations, it was interesting to be able to use new tools I had not been exposed to before in a real-life situation. After refueling on a Bearrito, I focused on the creative side of press office duties, summarising some key organic and environmental stories for their weekly newsletter before returning home.
In my first week, I expressed my eagerness to be part of some pitching as this is one practical element of PR that we don’t experience at university. As this is quite an important task, I didn’t think I would be allowed to phone journalists so soon into my time with the Soil Association, but the team were very encouraging for me to get involved. So much so that they thought it would be an insightful for me to follow a story from searching for relevant contacts, to writing the press release, to getting it published. Whilst the local story was far from going global, I was over the moon when my journalist phone conversation led to the story becoming a nib in local London paper. Whilst I had heard about the rush practitioners get, it was hard to relate from the 4 corners of a classroom, however, the press office was just as proud as I was of my mini accomplishment.
Towards the End
My third week happened to be the week before the launch of the Soil Associations latest greenwashing within the beauty industry campaign, and the whole press office seemed to be in overdrive. Amongst my usual routine of measuring coverage and writing about important news stories for their weekly Organic News, I was asked to help compile a list of all the press contacts we could pitch to on the day of the launch. Whilst this job doesn’t sound super exciting, I quite enjoyed searching for important media contacts knowing that on launch day, I could be pitching to any one of them.
And finally, Campaign for Clarity’s launch day was finally here. It was far less hectic than I originally anticipated, and after an informal meeting with the team, my anxiety was put at ease. Armed with all the information I could possibly need and some Pukka mint tea (a bonus of working for an organic NGO I will miss terribly), I was ready to get pitching to the mass media. And it didn’t go too badly either. There were some curve-ball questions thrown at me, and some uninterested receptionists, but other than that the experience was positive and thrilling.
Well I guess it is true when they say that all good things must come to an end. I am truly saddened that Wednesday will be my last day at the Soil Association, and will miss the wonderful press office team. Thank-you for the opportunity and confirming in my mind that working for an NGO is the ultimate end goal.