Life after university… it's a challenge every graduate has to face! And something that really sneaks up on you as you approach the end of your bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree. After all, choosing the right vocation is a big step, and a predicament we all face at the end of our studies. It’s certainly something I experienced at the end of my PhD.
At that point, all I knew was that I loved science and wanted it to be the basis of my career, but I did not see myself becoming a lab-based scientist in either industry or academia.
So, I asked myself, "what are my options? What’s out there for someone who wants to apply their scientific knowledge and skill, but perhaps not in the lab?" From a kaleidoscope of advice, thoughts and feedback, I whittled down my focus to specific areas within the commercial side of the life science industry.
I came across an awesome opportunity that sounded right for me, which set me on the path to where I am today; working as a Public Relations (PR) Junior Account Manager at BioStrata. And it all started with me applying for the PR Executive role.
You may be thinking, “lucky you, but how will this blog help me in choosing my career path, and why should I consider a career in PR at a life science marketing agency?” Well, in this blog I’ll try to give you a whirlwind tour of what science PR is, why it is so important for the life sciences, how awesome it is as a career, and why you should take the next step and apply for a PR role at BioStrata. Punch it, Chewie!
Blog snapshot: Working as a public relations executive at a life science specialist marketing agency is a challenging (yet rewarding) role, that allows you to speak the language of science and share some of the most cutting-edge technology with the world. But what does it take to be a successful PR executive? And how do you know the role will be right for you? To apply for a role at BioStrata, check out our careers page.
What is PR?
PR is a term you may have heard of—I was aware of it before I took up my role at BioStrata, but I must admit it wasn’t one I fully understood or appreciated until I started working as a PR Executive.
If we were to opt for a classic definition (for example, as defined by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)), we’d probably say something along the lines of:
“Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support, and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”
This is a great definition (thanks CIPR). But before you commit this to memory, I would recommend thinking about the quote below from former Apple Executive, Jean-Louis Gassée, which for me, truly embodies PR:
“Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.”
Why is PR so important in the life science sector?
As many Star Wars fans-come marketers will tell you (and there are a few on the team here): PR is like ‘the Force’—it is all around and influencing you, your actions and your buying decisions. The stronger the reputation of a company, the more likely you (the consumer) are to engage with them, buy from them and recommend their services.
PR programmes are a major factor for the success of life science companies. From the smallest start-ups to the largest corporations, they all let us know about their latest technology, assay or life-saving treatment through PR. To do this they employ a variety of tactics, such as distributing press releases, pitching stories that are published by the media, attending and speaking at conferences and trade shows, engaging with key opinion leaders—and much more!
Without a communication strategy and a planned approach for launching, discussing, promoting and highlighting a brand, product, service or industry issue, a company would not be able to make the inroads and impact they want to achieve. This could influence the success of sales, investment rounds, hiring, company growth and the overall longevity of the company itself.
What’s it like being a PR Executive?
I hope by now you are thinking “life science PR sounds exciting and impactful—how do I become the one sharing awesome research, technology or news with end-users and the trade media?”
That is where BioStrata’s exciting PR Executive role comes in! But what exactly is it like to be a PR Executive in an innovative Life Science Marketing agency?
Speaking from experience, it is exciting, fast-paced, fun and challenging all at the same time. For me, it is the perfect blend, but read below to find out if this is something you would also enjoy!
A day in the life of a PR Executive
It all starts with a cup of coffee (of course) and reading through your emails, maybe checking out industry news and some cool science stories. From there, it’s straight on to key tasks such as communicating with clients on their current PR programmes and pushing forward the activities that will help achieve their goals, reviewing an article or blog draft, or even crafting some social media posts to help promote an editorial that has just gone live.
Next, you could be booked on a briefing call, interviewing a leading expert to gain insights into a product and its scientific application areas, so you are able to pitch a relevant story to an editor of a leading trade media publication. Your morning could have just flashed by and before you know it, it’s time for a lunch break with the team!
During the afternoon, you may have some calls with clients, the media or internal meetings to ensure all of the moving parts of our PR programmes are in place. Oh, and there’s also an important press release going out to the media at 2.00pm today, so you need to make sure that goes swimmingly too! Additionally, an editor confirms that they would like to receive that article you pitched, and as a result, you’ll probably start writing up a detailed brief, so your team of science writers can get going on the project to deliver some exciting and engaging content. While all this is going on, you will be tracking and recording all this information into our systems so the whole team is informed and up to date.
It’s probably nearing the end of the day by now, so you will be organising yourself for tomorrow, ensuring you’re ready for any challenges, and that all your tasks are likely to be completed ahead of their internal or external deadlines. Then, in true Cambridge style, it could be time to hop on your bike, cycle home, rest up and be ready for what tomorrow will bring.
While this is what a 'typical day' tends to look like, one of the things that I love most about this role is that there really is no such thing as a typical day, which is probably why I find it so stimulating and satisfying!
The attributes of a PR Executive
To enjoy this role, you need to be prepared to become a marketing swiss army knife, i.e. someone who loves learning new skills and can flex and adapt to the goals and challenges of each day!
I would certainly say that living and breathing science is at the core of this role. Every second of every day you'll be using your existing knowledge or adding to your internal encyclopaedia. This will enable you to think critically and problem solve any challenges you'll face, and will support you in pitching compelling stories to editors, reviewing scientific content, planning life science PR strategies and brainstorming with clients and your team. You’ll find it easier to balance the varied work you will be doing if you are super-organised, good at managing your time and feel comfortable communicating via phone, email and in-person with clients.
Within the team, we’re always looking to work slightly outside of our comfort zone, so you’re going to enjoy this role most if you also enjoy pushing yourself to grow in this way. By doing this, you’ll get to learn a great deal and develop quickly into an effective PR professional.
But it’s important to realise that you'll never be doing this alone. You’ll always have your team beside you, supporting you in these tasks and helping you gain confidence in everything you do. You are not just part of a team here at BioStrata, you are part of a family that all works together!
Are you interested in a career in life science PR?
If you are interested in becoming a PR professional within the life science sector, check out our careers page to see which roles we currently have available.