Meet the PRofessionals | Arianne Smart, KOR Communications

Welcome to the third instalment of my 'Meet the PRofessionals' series! I've been really enjoying interviewing some amazing PR professionals from around the country to share their experience, opinions on the industry and words of wisdom - so keep your eyes peeled each week for new additions. This third time round, my PRofessional in the spotlight is Arianne Smart!

What is 'Meet the PRofessionals'? 

That's why I wanted to start this series, that I'll hopefully be posting a new addition to each week. A space where we can be inspired to learn and be successful like these people. I have asked those important questions to gain an insight into the industry of how these PRofessionals got to where they are today, and how as a PR student we can emulate their success.

Also, if you're reading this and in the PR industry please do get in touch! I'd absolutely love to hear from you and I'm sure many other students would benefit from the advice you have to share. But for now, let's get into it...

When I started studying PR I often found it difficult to find how other people got into the industry and have always found it interesting when speaking to professionals that everyone takes their own path, it tends to be that no two people got into the industry the same way.

Meet the PRofessional: Arianne Smart

Arianne is a digital PR specialist & account manager at KOR Communications and an award-winning blogger, having been awarded the title of Britain's best PR student blogger in 2016, she's now over on and is one of my favourite blogs to keep up to date with social media and PR trends, I especially learnt a lot about Twitter from her recent posts! Since graduating from the University of Sunderland three years ago Arianne has went from strength to strength, which is why I wanted to learn a bit more about her...

1. How did you get started in PR? 

I studied PR with French at the University of Sunderland and fell in love with PR. After getting as much work experience as I could while at university, I was lucky enough to secure an account executive role at a PR and marketing agency in the North East after graduating, before moving back to my home county of Devon to the role I'm in now.

2. What is your current job title and what do you love about your job?

I'm an Account Manager. It's so cliché but I love that every day is different. From corporate press stories to creative campaigns, from social media management to events, there is just so much variety. I learn something new every day (there you go, another cliché), whether it's something about the industry our clients operate in or how to improve my writing, I feel like I get a little better at the job all the time. I think people would be surprised to hear how challenging PR can be, but the rewards are so worth it. The buzz you get from securing a great piece of coverage or winning a new pitch will never get old (I hope!)

3. Why did you choose a career in PR? 

At school and college, I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career so took a year out before university to work it all out. PR encompasses many of the things I enjoy, so I thought it sounded like the right career for me. Luckily, within the first few months of studying, I knew I was right!

4. What does your daily routine look like? 

I don't live far from the office, so after a quick commute, I start the day by checking my emails and then checking client social media accounts, responding to anything and sharing content for that day. From there, anything can happen - I've often got a press release or two to be working on, a blog post to research and write, perhaps some website copy to put together. We have regular meetings with clients or conference calls for those further away to establish priorities and stay up to speed with what's coming up. I like to check the newspapers over lunch - local or national - and will keep an eye on online news channels throughout the day too.

5. Can you describe your job in three words? 

Creative, strategic, challenging.

6.  Who has been your biggest role model in your career so far and why?  

That's really hard to say as there are so many people doing great things in the industry and I've learnt a lot from different people I have met throughout my (albeit quite short so far!) career. One person I have followed and admired since I started studying is Aliza Licht.  I read her book 'Leave Your Mark' whilst I was at university and, although she works in fashion PR, I found her creativity and drive to succeed really inspiring. Following her on Twitter, I get little doses of that every day. I also read a number of Professor Anne Gregory's books for university and she is an ambassador for professionalising the industry which I find inspiring. I have learnt a lot from her books.

7. What type of person thrives at your organisation? 

I don't think PR suits just one particular type of person, there's place in PR for people will all kinds of skills and all kinds of personality types and to be a good agency or comms team there needs to be a balance. 

8. What are three must-haves that are crucial for you to get the job done?

Good organisational skills - I know this is said for many jobs, but it is essential to keep yourself organised in an agency. You'll be working for a number of clients with differing deadlines, priorities and workloads, so knowing how to keep on top of that, manage your time effectively and make sure nothing slips through the net is vital.

Strong writing skills - might sound obvious but it is something you are going to be doing every day in some shape or form. Strong writing skills that you can adapt for different purposes are a must.

Curiosity - to get a good story and to make the most of opportunities, you need to be curious... and dare I say it a little bit nosey. Interviewing people and getting the story out of them can be a challenge, but being unafraid to ask questions (but of course, asking them in the right way) is so important. You need to want to know about everything and anything going on with your client, their industry and their peers.

9. What is the most memorable or meaningful moment in your career so far? 

I was awarded the CIPR Douglas Smith student award, alongside my fellow students Hannah and Lauren, in 2015 which was a pretty special moment. A lot of time, effort, research and creativity went into the campaign we submitted, so to know we were doing excellent work was really exciting. Landing my first ever piece of client coverage in print was very exciting too!  I graduated just under three years ago now, so I'm hoping there are plenty more memorable moments to come.

10. What do you wish more people understood about the PR industry? 

It's not all creative campaigns and champagne parties like Absolutely Fabulous and other such shows would lead you to believe. And we're not all spin doctors trying to hide the truth and mislead people.

11. And finally, what advice would you give to a PR student like myself that is looking for a foot in the door in the PR industry?

Get as much experience as you can - blogging, work experience, guest posts, internships - whatever you can do, do. Every job interview I've been to I've been asked for examples of my work, so generate these at any opportunity and keep track of them.

I'd also encourage students to engage with people who they aspire to be like. Follow PR people on Twitter to see what they do day to day, ask them about their role, ask them for advice. Or find out what events are going on locally that you could go along to. I've found it to be a very welcoming industry, fellow PR people have been more than happy to share advice, offer feedback or just chat about the job. But if you don't ask, you don't get!

Thanks Arianne! It's always great to see a Sunderland alumni doing so well!

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