Richard Lord - Wakefield and District Housing

Richard LordName: Richard Lord

Job title: Communications Officer

Employer: Wakefield and District Housing

Find Richard on Twitter @RichMariner.

How did I get started in PR?

After studying for my degree in English Language at the University of Huddersfield I campaigned to become the Vice President of Communications at the Students' Union where I managed all of the Union's communications channels. I promoted campaigns in the press, responded to media enquiries and worked on policies. I got involved in school boards, senate and University Council, which gave me the appetite to work in an environment where I could take complex issues and re-write them for wider audiences.

What do I do?

Currently I am responsible for developing our social media strategy, which is an exciting project to be leading. A lot of my work revolves around communicating what the business is doing and achieving to stakeholders, which includes writing press releases, managing the intranet and working with the web team to develop our online communications to make sure all our campaigns are integrated and reaching the right people.

What motivates me about my job?

I enjoy the challenge of raising the company's profile in the media by writing in different styles for different audiences. It's a great responsibility to have. Nothing is handed to you in Public Relations; you have to earn the trust of the journalist and the resulting coverage, which can take time. Social media is still a relatively new challenge for housing providers too, but it's proving to be an interesting and exciting venture.

What skills do I need to do my job?

You really need to know your target audience, and how you can reach them, before you begin any campaign. A creative mind also helps, but you also have to remain focussed on your objectives and keep questioning the relevance of what you are doing. Producing clear, coherent and tailored content – whether it's a press release, an article for the website or social media – has to be appropriate for your audience. Good spelling, grammar and punctuation is also essential. One subtle change of word can alter the message or tone of voice and it can be the difference between sounding sincere or flippant.

What did I gain from my CIPR qualification?

The CIPR course has enabled me to talk more confidently about Public Relations in general – its history, its development, its value to businesses today – and what sets it apart from marketing and advertising. I've been able to apply a lot of what I learnt directly to my role, and, as a result, it has made me, my team and the business more focussed on its objectives.

Where do I go next?

I've been working on the social media project and once that is fully rolled out it will be interesting to see how it will affect the way the business communicates in the future. Finding a way to measure the impact of social media is a tricky subject and one I'm sure I'll learn more about. I'm also involved in the re-development of our website, which is a large project that requires lots of new content. As I develop I would like to work on more national and global projects and manage a team.

What advice do I have for someone considering a career in PR?

It's a highly competitive industry and it's vital that you can demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of how to communicate effectively. I created a blog, which I update regularly with examples of my work. Networking is crucial to your development as well – keep a contacts book, update it regularly and take every opportunity to attend seminars, workshops and meet others in the profession.