My week of work experience at TALA: Tolly

Secondary school student Tolly joined us for work experience during the week of the 2024 General Election, giving him a unique snapshot of media, public relations, politics, social media and much more.

He tackled all his tasks with huge enthusiasm, and was even challenged to plan a campaign from scratch. This gave the TALA team great insight into the thought processes, potential and opportunities of working with the next generation of PR stars.

Monday

I had a very busy but fulfilling first day here in TALA. I walked into reception and a minute or so later was met by Declan, who is part of the TALA team, and he quickly made me feel at home at TALA. I was given a short booklet that had the basics that I would need to start my work experience here, and then I was straight into a meeting with Harriet.

Harriet set out the ground rules of working at TALA, which necessitates maintaining great relationships that support each other and clients, whilst maintaining high integrity standards. Inclusivity was the other major ground rule, which was stressed a lot.

Then I was briefed on my job for the day, which was to conduct a social media audit on one of the clients that TALA is working with. It felt quite pleasant to be included in the company from the get-go. I also conducted the knowledge test, and it was interesting to understand the different intricacies that must be considered before deciding about a course of action.

After the test and lunch, I had an intro with Helen about writing press releases. It was very informative, and I came out with a thorough understanding of the technique needed to write one.

I thought that my first day at TALA was a fun and enlightening introduction to working at TALA and it left me with great enthusiasm for tomorrow.

Tuesday

Today, I started finishing the social media audit that I started yesterday. Once that was done, I had a meeting with Helen again, where we went over the data that I gathered and what to do with it; the meeting was useful as I came out with a clear idea about my plan for the day.

After that meeting, I set about finding insights in the data that I gathered. Having all the data from the social media audit in one place made finding insights relatively easy.

I then moved onto writing my first press release which I spent the rest of the day doing. It was quite a daunting task, but the advice I received from Helen yesterday and today was tremendously helpful, so I was able to begin writing it up.

Time passed quickly and it was time to have lunch. I had lunch with all the team members, and it was nice talking to them and learning a bit about them.

Subsequently, I continued writing the press release, up until I caught up with Declan at the end of the day.

Today was a less hectic day for me, as I spent most of my time at my computer typing up my findings from the social media audit and the press release. However, I never found any of these jobs tedious, as I felt like I was contributing to the company even if I was at TALA for work experience.

Wednesday

Today was by far my favourite day. I started the day by finishing my first draft for a press release concerning a local band that I had been helping throughout the week. I was proud to have finished my first go at a press release, and I knew that I could get better as I had a catchup session with Helen later in the day to go over my first draft.

Next up was a meeting with Flo who introduced me to PR Communications. It was a presentation that was scaled down from a 7-hour presentation to an hour presentation, and it gave me an amazing insight into how to talk to journalists and why a PR campaign would be used in a real-life situation, and it isn’t what you would think it would be. Instead of being used to generate publicity, which is what I thought it would be, it is to address a business challenge. An example would be when Pepsi bring out a campaign which makes Coca Cola look bad, so they launch one of their own campaigns to address that issue of a negative reputation.

Soon after I learnt how to use a camera by Lotta, and I got pictures taken to use on my LinkedIn page to make it look more professional and presentable. I then carried on with the tasks that Andrew had set me which took me to lunch.

After lunch, I got myself ready for my first call at TALA. I was to shadow and take notes on a call between Andrew and the band that the work that I was doing in my work experience was set out on. What struck me in the call was how Andrew was able to ask the right questions to get the answers that were needed to write an informed press release that would be extremely accurate. Even if it is his job to do this, I was in awe at how efficient he was at getting great content out of those that he asked.

With this new information that I had gathered from the call, I was set on writing up my new press release, but time passed so quickly that it was already time to hear what I could do better to improve my press release writing skills with Helen. The meeting was informative, (again!) and I after I was then ready to start planning and writing my second press release for the rest of the day.

Today was an eye-opening experience for me, as it was one of the first times seeing someone working with so much confidence and skill, which made me realise what it takes to be a CEO of a successful PR company. Each day increases my affirmation that finding work experience and doing it at TALA was the right thing to do for my future.

Thursday

Thursday started with me finishing my second draft of my press release. I really have enjoyed writing the press release and understanding what I can improve after getting advice from Helen after she analyses my writing.

Soon it was time to watch a presentation done by Lou, about the different types of Journalism and how to understand how to view articles published with an unbiased eye. This meant being able to understand where journalists who are writing articles are slightly manipulating content that they have received from those contacted for comments.

At 12:00, everybody in the office received a talk by Chris about how to manage a ground component of an election campaign. Chris had run a successful election campaign for the conservatives in Banbury in the 2015 general election, (which could potentially change, as it is election day today)!

After lunch I completed a task where I had to find out several features of a tabloid. After completing that, I received a brief on making a campaign about promoting canned food. I spent the rest of my time planning for the hypothetical campaign until I had a meeting with Chris about media training. It was a crash course in media training, a compacted course with large amounts of information about how to prepare and handle a radio, TV, and magazine reporter interview, but Chris bridged the gap between.

Soon after the crash course in media training was over, I had a meeting with Helen about the improvements I needed to make for the final draft of the press release that I have been writing.

Thursday was another packed day, but again I felt really positive about everything that has gone on today. When I got home, I was very tired.

Friday

Today started with me finishing my final draft of the press release. I spent a while on that and soon it was time to move onto continuing my planning on promoting canned food.

Finishing that took most of the day, as I had never done anything like this before, and I was given little advice, and only some guidelines as what to include in the finished document, as the team wanted to see what a younger person would think when given a brief and told to plan a campaign. This got me thinking pretty hard, but again, figuring out this on my own felt fun, as I knew that if my plan was good enough, some of my ideas might make it into the official campaign.

As an end note, this week has been surprising for me. I had idea of what to look forward to, but the closeness of the team and the positive atmosphere fostered a desire to work hard and learn as much as possible in the week that I had here at TALA. I would like to say a special thanks to Andrew, who accepted me to do this week of work experience and trusted me to take part in his business for the week, Declan, who helped me to feel welcome in the office, Helen, who taught me how to competently write a press release, Flo, who taught me how to entice journalists into turning my information into a story, Lotta, who showed me how to use a camera, Lou, who taught me about the different types of journalism, and Chris who sped me through a media training course.

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