Sharon Mars - The BIG Partnership

Sharon MarsName: Sharon Mars

Job title: Account Director

Employer: The BIG Partnership

Find Sharon on Twitter @Sharon_Mars.

How did I get started in Public Relations?

After graduating with a Master of Arts degree in English at university, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next. I enjoyed the creative challenges of developing stories and considered a career in journalism, however I also liked the strategic planning associated with the marketing industry; PR allowed me to do both. I asked around and did a bit of research via social media to identify the most reputable agencies in the UK. The BIG Partnership was recommended by a number of individuals working in the industry and I sent the directors a speculative CV in the hope of gaining some work experience. Three years later and I have the pleasure of working with a fantastic group of people on some of the company's most high profile accounts and have risen to the rank of account director.

What do I do?

As a PR consultant working in a busy, multi-function agency with a client base spanning professional services and energy companies to drinks brands and sports associations, my role varies from client to client. Media relations, while still fundamental to the job, now only describes a small part of what I do on a daily basis. New comms channels, such as Twitter, have empowered audiences in ways never seen before meaning active stakeholder engagement is more important than ever. In addition to planning high-impact campaigns and devising long-term strategies for maximising media coverage and raising awareness of my clients' key messages, my role incorporates business development and growing my professional network. Beyond simply "securing coverage" for a client, I also aim to provide added value by identifying opportunities to expand my clients' networks to support communication goals and create business opportunities, where appropriate.

What motivates me about this job?

It's the ultimate PR cliché, but with good reason: no two days are ever the same. Beyond that, working on specific accounts as part of a smaller team within a full service agency affords me the autonomy to take ownership of my work and flex my entrepreneurial muscles.

What skills do I need to do my job?

An ability to get along with people is an absolute must. This doesn't mean you need to be a party animal, in fact, quite the opposite in many cases. Someone once told me the best PR should be heard and not seen. Your clients (or if you're part of an in-house team, your boss), their interests and key messages should always be your main focus (in a professional sense). An ability to strike up a conversation and take a genuine interest in other people (be they journalists, clients, corporate partners or other stakeholders) will serve you well.

Multi-tasking is also essential. There are always deadlines to meet and every client is of equal importance and deserves your attention, therefore, it is vital to be organised and prioritise tasks accordingly to ensure everything is completed to a high standard on time, every time.

Why did I choose to enrol in CPD?

The PR industry is continually evolving and the CPD programme ensures I stay on top of new developments and I'm in the best possible position to advise my clients. Being a Chartered and Accredited practitioner also consolidates my position as a professional business consultant and allows me to command the respect of my clients and reassures them they're in "a safe pair of hands".

What do I want to do next?

I'm fortunate enough to find myself at an ambitious agency going from strength to strength and in a position to contribute to its growth. I am a bit of a fatalist and believe that what is for you won't go past you. The secret is in keeping an open mind and embracing opportunities when they arise.

What advice do I have for someone starting out in Public Relations?

Be prepared to work hard and embrace teamwork. Contrary to what some television shows would have you believe, PR is not all about parties with champagne and canapés (although there can be a bit of that occasionally!). The most important thing for me is to get along with the people I work with and create a strong sense of camaraderie. There will be days when it feels like everything is against you and, when that happens, it's your colleagues that pull you through.