Rikki Weir, a Board Director at Cirkle PR, shares her experience of being a Career Ready mentor and how working with Career Ready can add real value to PR organisations.

When our Cirkle/Career Ready WhatsApp Group pinged with a message saying 5*s lovely mentoring it represented a hugely rewarding time in my career. The message was from the three Luton Sixth Form College students who our MD, HR Director and I mentor for a year as part of our partnership with Career Ready.

The problem with PR

The UK PR industry is worth £14bn, employs c. 90k people of which 88% are white British nationals. The PRCA 2019 Census found that only 13% of respondents said they came from households that had historically received income support.

The PR industry has acknowledged that it needs to do more to increase the number of BAME employees, and as we represent clients that need to communicate with increasingly diverse audience groups – it’s imperative for employers to continually adopt fresh, innovative strategies to attract a more diverse range of talent.

It is essential to bring in people with a plethora of life experiences, perspectives and views – and particularly those from lower socio-economic backgrounds who may not get the same chance as others

Less is more

Our mentoring strategy with Career Ready was to offer the three students a number of intensive mentoring sessions across a 12 month period where they also visited Cirkle HQ. Not only are they exposed to a fast-paced PR agency, but they get to interact with our wider team (from Account Assistants to Account Manager levels) to hear about their career experiences and tips first hand.

Our bespoke interactive workshops encompass soft and hard work/life skills including:

  • Presentation Skills – including live role play, filmed in our on-site broadcast studio – a bit timid at first to be in front of the camera, they loved it so much, they volunteered for a second go (and the improvement was tangible)
  • Comms Skills (verbal, non-verbal, active listening, gravitas)
  • Making the right kind of noise on LinkedIn
  • Successful interview and CV writing
  • Time Management and being ‘On It’
  • Identifying each student’s personal ‘Values’
  • Investing in ‘Insights
  • Discovery’ to help them understand their own behaviours as well as those of others

Point proven

To supplement our mentoring scheme, we also held an interactive session with over 80 students at Luton Sixth Form College who signed up to our ‘What is PR’ session. Our Creative Director and Account Exec. ran an employability workshop where students had to come up with creative PR ideas to launch brands to influencers. The buzz in the room was infectious and the array of impressive ideas presented perfectly demonstrated this essential need for ‘diversity of thought’.

WhatsApp is pinging again with this latest message from one of the students: ’I learnt ways to work on personal improvement and got a better understanding of myself – as well as an understanding of the way in which other people act, and the reasons why. I can now alter my actions and understand my emotions in order to come to a compromise with other people within the workplace.  We presented in front of a camera and I enjoyed this the most as our mentors gave us constructive criticism, and we had the opportunity to go over our presentations for a second time, correcting our initial mistakes. For a change I was able to watch and analyse myself whilst also receiving feedback on areas of improvement. I learnt that there are a lot of things as humans that we do subconsciously without realising – and that with practice and time, we can alter our mannerisms in order to do a good presentation. Thank you so much for allowing us to visit.  Definitely an experience to remember!’

Not only is Career Ready is an exceptional initiative, it is a hugely slick operation and I’d encourage other employers in our sector and beyond to get involved and help to change even more young people’s lives.