Just yesterday, I gave my first ever university talk at a different university to my own. I was invited down to the University of Greenwich to give a talk to PR students about my journey and my blog. I was pleasantly surprised and quite shocked to get the email as I’ve never done something like this before and didn’t know how it would go down with other students, since I was still a student myself. But, I always say life begins outside of your comfort zone and when you’re offered opportunities like this to better yourself, you would be a fool to turn it down – so I said yes and headed down to London to give my talk.
The talk was to last one hour and I panicked thinking how on earth I could talk about myself for one hour, but it was much easier than I thought because you can’t really get stuck or lost when the topic is about yourself. My number one fear was the accent barrier. Would they be able to understand what I was saying? I tried my best to talk as slowly and articulately as possible so I’m hoping something got through to the students.
I thought I would recap on here some of the things I talked about during my presentation. I won’t bore you with the beginning of who I am, my blog or my placement year because most of you reading this probably know all about that (or you can find everything on here somewhere). I will however, share my reasons that students should be blogging and my top tips for being a student blogger.
Reasons you should blog
1. For your career
This blog helped me secure my placement year. All of us that study PR can say that we are extremely passionate about the PR industry since we are pursuing a degree in the subject and have had experience in the field, but how can you actually show your passion? I decided to show it by having a blog where I write all about the subject and converse with other PR students, professionals and lecturers.
Your blog can be a huge talking point in an interview as it has been for me for the past two years and can help make your CV stand out from the crowd and hopefully be a reason that it is placed in the ‘interview’ pile and not the ‘reject’ pile.
2. To make connections
Twitter is such a great place to talk to other people with the same interests as yourself. I have made a lot of PR connections through interviewing PR women on my blog from all over the world, connecting with other PR student bloggers and from just reaching out to PR professionals because of my blog.
I was able to intern with London Fashion Agency before my placement year because of one of my #GirlBossMonday interviews and have been asked to get in touch with some others when the time comes for me to graduate. I now have a lot of friends that are PR bloggers and as students we can all come together and talk about our struggles and worries about life after graduation.
3. Personal branding
Personal branding is something I’ve only come to know about in the past year or so. I didn’t realise that I could even make a personal brand for myself. But by having my blog and my socials, I have come to make Orlagh Claire a brand in itself.
What you write on the internet is viewed as your own thoughts and opinions, so you do need to be careful with what you write about. However, if you can write about things that people relate to and get your work retweeted, re-linked and shared a lot, you can help to get your brand out there and then begin to become someone known in your chosen field. The earlier you set out to do this, the better.
4. To learn new skills
Through blogging, you learn so many different skills. You run your own website, learn about SEO, improve your writing and manage your own social media. A lot of it is learning on the go and Googling absolutely everything, but the skills you learn can be carried out in the workplace and your future career.
The more you write, the more you identify your writing style, your voice and what separates you as a writer. For me, I write in quite a conversational style as if I was retelling something to one person and it seems to work for me. As it’s my own personal blog, I like to make sure it comes across quite informal and as a conversation between me and the reader.
My top tips for blogging
1. Don’t buy a domain name unless you’re serious
I would definitely recommend starting off on a .wordpress.com blog or Blogspot platform on a free version. Unless you know you are going to commit to your blog every single week and keep at it, it will be a waste of money.
When you do choose your blog title, I would avoid adding ‘PR’ into the name as this will restrict you on what you can write about. Even though my blog is mainly about PR and Influencer Marketing, I can still write about university, beauty and music because my blog is just my name.
I have a page in my blog journal with names that I was considering before starting my blog but the best piece of advice I received was ‘imagine your blog name in lights and you’ll know whether it works’. So I envisioned my blog name across a billboard in Times Square and Orlagh Claire was the one that sounded the best and so, here we are. Not that it will ever appear in Times Square but one can dream.
2. Commitment is key
One of the hardest things about blogging is finding the time to commit to it. But if you love it and enjoy it, this won’t be hard to do. I spend every free minute I have on my blog. When I wake up it’s what I want to spend my time on and it’s usually the last thing I’m doing before I go to bed. Even when I should be doing university work, you’ll find me writing blog posts instead.
I’m counting down the days until I finish my degree so that I can spend more of my nights on my blog and make it go even further. But if you think you won’t be able to commit to blogging at least once every week or two weeks then is it really something you want to do?
Commitment issues were why all of my previous blogs didn’t continue. The longer I left them, the harder it was to start them up again. Create a content calendar or put aside one day that you know you can write a blog post and stick to that day for a few weeks to see if it’s working for you. I usually post on Wednesdays and Fridays and when I can, on a Monday too.
3. Read other blogs
Why should you expect people to read your blog when you don’t take the time to read others?
I love when PR Place posts the weekly round-up on a Friday because I’ll usually have missed out on blog posts during the week and this is a great way to see a list of them all in one place. I usually spend my Friday lunch break reading through them all and catching up.
If you agree with something or have an opinion, don’t be afraid to comment on a blog post or reply to someone’s tweet. Everyone loves feedback on their posts and blogs are a great way to get conversation started. I find my best ideas for blog posts come from reading other blogs and having a differing opinion. Even by reading what’s happening in the news can spark an idea for a blog post.
The more you read, the more opinions you’ll have and the more blog content you can come up with.
4. Join the conversation
This ties in a lot with my next point of personal branding as you’re going to want to make business profiles on Twitter and potentially on Instagram. I would definitely recommend a business profile on Twitter where you follow other PR students, professionals, companies and lecturers as they are always tweeting and talking about things happening in the industry. Doing this will also help you get your name out there as you will become a recurring name popping up in people’s notifications. Of course you can still have your own personal accounts as I also do but just maybe keep them private.
5. Shape your personal brand
I’ve recently just started a new Instagram page for my blog as I know people from back home that follow my personal account aren’t really too interested in my blog about PR so I’m trying to keep the two separate from now on. It means I can post more on my Instagram page without feeling embarrassed or shy about what I post.
I also have a Facebook page that I don’t use too regularly – mainly again because of too many people I know reading it – but I’m trying to improve and get my personal brand further out there. Stick to a certain colour scheme and font to help with your branding. Mine is very much pink and I’ve just recently changed the heading of my blog as it’s what I envisioned the title of my blog to look like. I didn’t want it to be too formal and wanted a certain edginess to it – not that I’m particularly edgy but I think it looks nice.
6. Don’t be afraid to promote your blog
This is something I’m not the best at doing but I’m working on it. Connect your blog to your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages so to get as many people to see it as possible.
I’m trying to figure out Pinterest at the moment as I’ve heard there are great opportunities for traffic from the site so try and promote on there too. There’s no point writing a blog post that no one knows about or is ever going to read so you have to be your own biggest fan and share it out there with the world. Get your friends to promote it, or your neighbours or your cousin. Just get your blog out there.
Blogs to check out for inspiration
- Marcel Klebba
- Lucy Hayball
- Yana Miladinova
- Niamh Murray
- Jess Pardoe
- Ulster PR Student Blog
- Comms School