Jazz Chappell #socialstudent

Appearing in Behind the Spin’s #socialstudentlist for 18 out of the 19 weeks, Jazz Chappell averaged at 16th but with her highest rank as 2nd. Jazz is a first year Public Relations student from Leeds Metropolitan University and has recently spent two weeks with infamous advertising agency, M&C Saatchi in their PR department.

Behind the Spin’s #socialstudent list uses Klout and Peer Index to measure a user’s influence over their social network. But in your opinion, can they be trusted as an accurate measure of your influence?
There are many negative perceptions of both klout and peer index, which, for the most part, I agree with. Mainly because of how difficult it is to measure social influence. Is it how many followers you have? Is it how many of your followers actually engage with or how many follow your links? Is it how often you tweet? How many boards you have on pinterest? How many likes you get on a Facebook status? To me all of these could be useful measures but then again could be useless too. For instance I don’t believe that twitter followers or how often you tweet should dictate how socially influential you are.

However to contradict myself slightly, seeing as this social media influence measuring is still in it’s early stages, the fact that there is some form of measurement tool is a great start. Surely some form of score is better than none?

PR has seen a real shift over recent years toward digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Blogs. How do you think using these tools affects your career?
I think they can help massively, I am sure we have all heard of stories where companies have hired people purely as a result of a video, blog post or tweet. It enables a link or insight into potential employees that wasn’t available to employers before social media. They can see what we’ve been up to, thoughts on the industry, blog posts, LinkedIn profiles and online CV’s all in a few clicks. It is forcing us students to do our own PR for our online presence, if we can’t even portray ourselves as respectable, intuitive potential employees, how are we supposed to be able to do the same for real clients?

For me twitter has provided a platform for interaction with PR professionals and students, which is of course good relationship building and I am frequently learning more and more about the industry in turn. Work experience opportunities have arisen as a result of a simple tweet to a company, for that reason I think social media sites can be an invaluable tool in furthering career prospects.

And do you think it’s impacting current PR and Marketing campaigns?
Social media has a positive impact on campaigns as it allows them to be shared and seen amongst far more people quickly and efficiently. It is great for sharing things and getting word out.

However because of the fast nature, it is also uncontrollable. Companies have no control over what is said about them or how people will react to a campaign, so if something goes wrong, it can go seriously wrong and spread like wildfire. But that is a risk that comes with social media; often companies have an ‘any publicity is good publicity’ motto so it’s win-win for them.

So why did you want to go into PR?
A love of literature and writing created an assumption from a young age that I would study English Literature at University then go into journalism. It was an idea that I had gotten so used to that even when my love of the entertainment industry became a possible career path I would ignore it and carry on thinking English Literature was the right thing to do.

Once I began to look into courses and universities in sixth form I got a real wake up call and finally admitted to myself that it wasn’t the degree I wanted to do. If journalism was the ultimate goal why not do that? From that I found a Public Relations degree, and realised how fitting it was for me! An amalgamation of writing, business, close relationships with the media, and if I wanted, the entertainment industry. Perfect!

Why did you choose to study at Leeds Met?
Leeds Met is famous for its Public Relations degree. It is accredited by the CIPR, one of the first universities to make portfolio’s of achievement compulsory in PR and offers a year out working in the industry. That and the fact Leeds is a great place to live, pretty much sold it!

Do you think a degree is necessary to go into PR?
Not at all. I don’t think a degree is necessary to go into many professions routed within business, such as PR. With the right outlook and passion for a subject, coupled with relevant work experience, you can be just as valuable as an honors graduate.

However as the market is becoming more and more competitive, doing anything that will give you an edge certainly counts now more than ever. I have found that PR professionals are pleasantly surprised to see that I am studying PR, many not even realising the degree existed, so I’m glad I chose it! It’s arming me with the invaluable skills and providing opportunities for work experience that will hopefully be what potential employers are looking for once I graduate!

Do you have any ideas which way you’ll take your career after graduating yet?
As I am only in my first year I don’t want to be too picky at the moment, in a few years I may find sectors I wouldn’t ever think of are actually enjoyable! But for now I’d like to go into a sector that reflects what I genuinely enjoy. Consumer, Entertainment and film may all seem stereotypical choices but they are the ones that I’d feel passionate about most, but in a few years time who knows!

What is your favourite campaign?
One that I really like (that is going on at the moment) is the social media campaign for ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ film opening in July. It has included a scavenger hunt for lost items of Peter Parker, created viral videos of fake news segments ordering the capture of  ‘the webbed menace’ and are urging fans to ring up and report sightings or tweet their own photos of Spiderman. To read more check out this article.

It is getting the existing fans involved in the lead up to the film, gaining a lot of attention from prospective fans and blurring the lines of fantasy and reality, which many Marvel comic fans will love no doubt! I just think it is a great campaign, showing longevity since its launch in early Feb and it caters perfectly for their target audience to get people going to see the film.

Top tips for students:
  • Be prepared to immerse yourself in the industry!PR is not an easy subject to teach, as it is always changing and covers such a broad spectrum. It can be hard to wrap your head around it at first so reading industry blogs, reading PR Week and getting on twitter will all help in the long run.

  • Use who you know! (at first) Yes it may be controversial but work experience is vital and often very difficult to get, but once you’ve had a few placements, the rest keep rolling in. I got my first placement through a family friend so don’t be afraid to ask around! However afterwards, use initiative and secure placements yourself, you will feel far more accomplished when you do!

  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!Step out of your comfort zone and never turn down a good opportunity. University offers a whole host of opportunities, just go for it, what have you got to lose and it’ll all be beneficial in the long run!

Check out Jazz on Twiter @jazzchappell and her blog to discover just what makes her a #socialstudent

Jessica North

Author & Editor

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