Name: Fiona Glebioska
Job title: Communications Specialist
Employer: University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
How did I get started in Public Relations?
I studied Media and Communications at university, specialising in media photography. I gained lots of experience working in junior roles in event management, PR and graphic design which helped me to get my first full-time communications job when I graduated.
What do I do?
My role is quite dynamic and ranges from the 'bread-and-butter 'stuff such as copywriting and media handling to running our membership scheme, organising our annual awards, or engaging our 7,000 staff.
My work is very project-based and this gives me both a great deal of variety, the space to develop my leadership skills and work closely with senior executives. It's also fascinating – who knew I would ever see a laparoscopic radical prostatectomy being performed (that's a prostate removal via keyhole surgery to Joe Bloggs) or learn about how cochlear implants work.
In addition I get to meet a lot of VIPs as our hospital has a high profile through its work with the military. I regularly facilitate visits from musicians, senior politicians or the Royal household who want to show their support to our patients. It sounds very glamorous but in reality it's hard work and really makes you appreciate the art of meticulous planning!
What motivates me in this job?
It sounds like a cliché, but knowing my work is for a worthy and beneficial cause does keep me focused. I'm fortunate to have been involved in two award-winning internal communications projects and being recognised in that way is a real confidence boost - it drives you to see what else you can achieve.
What skills do I need?
The ability to listen – I mean really listen – is the most vital of skills. I'm not a nurse, a surgeon or a patient, so if I want to target a particular group I ask them what works for them. Attention to detail is important as is developing the ability to read a situation – knowing how best to approach people, to react to confrontation or use a particular tone of voice, can make or break you as a PR specialist.
Why did I enrol in CPD?
Chartered or accredited status is a good indication of your expertise but CPD is equally important. CPD forces you critique yourself, challenges you to learn more, improve your skills and take responsibility in your own career path. If you want a pay rise, you need to demonstrate to your employer that you are better than you were last year.
Where do I go next?
I have a particular interest in internal communications as I believe that well engaged, motivated staff can be the organisation's biggest asset. If I ever decided to move on, I think that is the way I would want to go.
What advice do I have for someone starting out in Public Relations?
My top three tips would be:
- Get as much experience as you can even if it is voluntary as it will help you decide what area you are best at and will help you with your CPD.
- Adopt a can-do attitude - always go with a solution to the problem - and put your heart and soul into everything you do. People will notice your efforts and initiative and most managers would rather teach you the basics than try and teach you the right attitude.
- Get a mentor – someone in a position that you aspire to will keep you on track.