As I have recently finished a brief period of work experience at Leeds City Council, I thought it would be useful to share a few parting reflections about my time there.
After spending time in an agency environment , I wanted to experience life on the in-house side. The agency route has become pretty standard for PR graduates these days, many being drawn by the the thought of working with a wide range of clients and the possibility of rapid career progression. I’ll admit, that is my preferred route too, at least initially, but I want a range of experience to allow me to see the bigger picture so to speak.
I was able to get stuck into a variety of activities, including attending meeting and workshops, writing releases, reactive media statements, filming and photography for the website, and preperations for the Local and European Elections.
The highlight for me had to be helping film climate change superhero “thermo” communicate the benefits of energy saving to local school children. After scoffing at the idea initially (the image of unimpressed kids participating in the filming of Pants Man on the apprentice is imbedded in my consciousness), I found the children really warmed to the character and seemed to take in the message.
Source: Leeds City Council
As you would expect, there is considerable media interest, positive and negative, in the councils activities and a close relationship between the press office and the local media outlets. In contrast to working with commerical brands in an agency, I found there was less need to “sell in” stories to journalists as they would be actively seeking information from the organisation.
The council is enjoying the sucess of their vitual news feed and has all but abandoned emailing press releases in the majority of cases. I was also informed that, although it was set up as a resource for journalists, members of the public are starting to subscribe to the feed as well – even better. The only suggestion I would have is that, if it is to be a resource for communicating with the public, shouldn’t comments and trackbacks be enabled to facilitate discussion?
It was nice to see social media was high on the agenda at meetings (the communications department have embraced it to a certain extent), but also that people were questioning its relevance to the organisations goals at a strategic level. A lot of people want to embrace web 2.0 because its now the “done thing” in PR and Marketing circles, but less understand the significance behind it and what it can achieve for them.
In conclusion, another enjoyable and enlightening placement.
It’s a shame I couldn’t spend more time there, but the world of academic research beckons and a summer of analysing interview transcripts awaits.