How to become a public relations account assistant: Bliss' story
Meet Bliss. She's 23, was born in Zimbabwe, and grew up in south-east London. She works as a public relations account assistant at Exposure, a creative communications agency in central London. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.
What is a typical day in your job?
I’m an account assistant at a creative communications agency, which means I work with brands on marketing campaigns. The department I'm in focuses on how to reach youth audiences. Every brand I work on has a different identity so there are lots of different projects to work on. I love fashion! One of the things I do is help launch new trainer designs for big brands.
I use lots of skills in my day-to-day job. Creativity, close attention to detail and communication skills are the most important, I would say. I work directly with clients and influencers so I have to be professional and be able to build good working relationships with them.
Which subjects did you take?
I chose Dance, Drama and Art for my GCSE options because they were subjects I enjoyed most. This really helped with my creative expression and confidence.
At A-level, I stuck with the arts and chose Film Studies, English, Sociology and Drama.
I went on to study Communications and Media at university which was great. English was really important during my degree so I'm so glad I did it at A-level.
Did you face any obstacles along the way?
I came to England from Zimbabwe when I was seven years old and I only spoke Shona. I could read English and understand it, but I couldn't speak it. I started reading more books and that really helped my understanding. English ended up being my favourite subject at school.
I also had a big decision to make when I was applying for university. I originally wanted to do a TV production course but I didn't get a place. I was devastated at the time. The course I did instead involved a year in industry so I got experience of other kinds of jobs I could do.
- Be proactive and apply for things that are accessible to you
- Focus on things you enjoy
- Don’t be scared to speak to people and get advice from the people you look up to
- Have confidence in yourself, because that can take you really far.
Bliss is currently an accounts assistant; her experience could set her on the path towards becoming a public relations officer.
What to expect if you want to be a public relations officer
- Public relations officer salary: £18,000 to £90,000 per year
- Public relations officer working hours: 38 to 40 hours per week
What qualifications do you need to be a public relations officer?
- Typical entry requirements: You can get into this job through a university course, apprenticeship, college course, or through a course run by a professional body such as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). A public relations assistant higher apprenticeship will usually require up to five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and college qualifications, like A-levels, for a higher or a degree apprenticeship. University degrees in subjects such as Public Relations, Media Communications, or Business and Public Relations. You'll usually need two or three A-levels (or equivalent) for a degree which should be recognised by the CIPR.
This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)
Find out more on the Prospects website about the working in public relations.