3 things I learned from an ever-so-slightly out-of-the-ordinary first week

The 23rd March 2020 marked my first official day as Hot Tin Roof’s newest Account Executive – my first degree-related role after graduating the previous summer.

The 23rd March 2020 also marked the day that the United Kingdom was sent into a police-enforced lockdown in an attempt to slow the imminent spread of COVID-19.

Needless to say, this was not going to be the most standard of first weeks!

Luckily for me, I had been interning with Hot Tin Roof for eight weeks prior to my permanent job offer, so the people, processes and press weren’t entirely new to me. It only meant that my big first step into the working world… would take place from my Mum’s kitchen table.  

Nonetheless, there was still a lot to be learned during this all important first week (what a time to be working in communications!). Here are three things I learned from the career kick-off which will be hard to forget!

Effective communication doesn’t always have to be face to face.

If there was ever a time to be more grateful to modern technology, it’s now. Where would we be without our super-fast broadband, advanced personal computers, and the all-important ‘cloud’ to make team remote working possible? Not to mention countless social media channels, videocall platforms and the worldwide craze that is Tik Tok to carry our entertainment and socialising needs.

It’s remarkable how quickly the nation has adapted to working from home. At HTR HQ, it took less than a week for our 9am zoom call to become the new normal, soon progressing to weekly virtual yoga sessions, book clubs and keep-fit classes to keep the team morale high! It’s clear that the small issue of zero face-to-face contact cannot halt our innate need to connect with one another.

For me, this has not only applied to my workplace environment and free time activities. Professionally, I believe this national emergency has brought us together in a way like never before. I find my interactions with the media getting stronger, with individuals from all industries showing genuine humility and concern for the situation and each other. This is not an easy time for traditional media but supporting each other through effective communication is the single best weapon we have.

Home working isn’t slow working

Now, I wasn’t under any false pretences about the fast pace of working in public relations. But I have to say, week one certainly took me off guard. Having supervised a 120-bed accommodation during the busy Fringe Festival last summer, I thought fast-worker had pretty much become my middle name. PR is busy in a wildy different way.

There are no immediate pressures from angry customers or late deliveries, or staff calling in sick five minutes before an eight-hour shift. Working from my kitchen table, I didn’t even have the pressure of a busy office! PR carries more of an internal pressure. The media is fast moving, trends are changing every day, new scandals are announced every minute and PR Pros need to try and navigate this wave as best they can, all while keeping their clients as the top priority – you could say like cats trying to cross a hot tin roof!

However, with a constant stream of support from an expert team and a quick and all-important lesson on prioritisation, I soon found myself juggling tasks with some level of control, while still (somewhat) picking up the ropes at HTR.

Trust your instincts

Anyone growing up in my generation of the late 90s and early 00s will no doubt recall (with fond memory) the Magic Key franchise. As a young storyteller, I was never fully satisfied with the endings of these childhood tales of Biff, Chip and Kipper, so used to write my own. This passion soon turned into starting a number of blogs during university and eventually landing a job centred around creative writing.

However, my first week brought with it a sudden wave of anxiety around my writing skills. Does this pitch sound ok? Does this joke make sense? Have I been using a semi-colon incorrectly my entire life? Having my writing read by such talented writers called me to question every aspect of style and tone, especially with the added WFH boundary to prevent me from judging facial expressions!

My insecurities could not have been more wrong. The team were hugely supportive and always offered positive and constructive feedback. Writing for different kinds of media is a skill, and finding the right kind of voice, tone and flow certainly takes some trial and error – even for the professionals! Every person’s writing style is unique, and there’s every chance that it may differ greatly from the person reading it. What is important is to keep on practicing, take in as much as you can from the people around you and trust your instincts!

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