In the latest of our regular Q&As with members of the Galibier team, we talk to Alfie Steer, who has joined us from Oxford University as a PR intern.
How did your journey towards PR start?
It all happened by accident really. I’ve always been active in politics, and have a passion for writing, but my first real PR role only came about when my College Rugby Club thought it would be fun to have their own comms officer. I worked on promoting the club’s matches, social events, and have done some pretty thrilling live commentary on Facebook and Twitter. I’d like to say that my expert commentary and analysis is what swung the team to pick me for the role, but it might have also been because I’d be the player least missed if I had to come off the pitch to send a few snappy tweets.
While the role started as a bit of a laugh, I soon got hooked and wanted to get more professional experience in the PR world. I had a short internship working on communications for Oxford University’s Admissions Office. With summer offering the chance to get some more long-term experience, I got in contact with Galibier and was thrilled when they accepted me onto the team.
And what are your proudest achievements?
Getting into Oxford after going to a state school in Herefordshire felt like a huge achievement, particularly due to the numerous structural barriers that could have stopped me along the way. Finishing my first year with a First made it all feel even better.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of a career in PR?
It’s still early days, but I’d say getting as much experience in as many different areas is always a great way to go in getting a feel for the industry and impressing employers. Even if it is not specifically in the PR side of things, getting involved in campaigning, research, writing or the media always provides great opportunities which can allow you to develop plenty of useful skills that can cross over into the PR world. Being able to hit the ground running is always a great advantage.
What’s the most important skill in PR?
Having the ability to focus on detail of research, and still present briefings, articles or press releases in a succinct, simple to understand way. It’s the key to communicating well and by far the best way to succeed.
What is the biggest misconception about your career or industry?
It depends on who you ask, but there does seem to be the view that PR is just schmoozing at drinks receptions with barely any work going in. In reality, the work and research involved in any project is always expansive and detailed, and you always need to understand the industries you are working for just as well as your clients.
What are you enjoying most about your role so far?
The writing. It’s something I have always been passionate about, and the ability to learn the craft of telling a story or getting a message across succinctly and to a deadline is a great experience. It allows you to both help your client most effectively, but also improve your own writing style.
What did you want to do when you were younger?
When I was very young I wanted to join the army. After that I became more realistic and decided I wanted to be a rock star. I’ve been playing guitar since I was ten and have been in plenty of bands that have never quite broken out of the Hereford music scene to hit the big time. Since then I’ve subjected both myself and my friends to a few open mic gigs, but I’m not sure a headliner spot at Glasto is on the cards for now.
Tell us something interesting about yourself
I’m a complete nerd when it comes to Labour Party politics and history. This summer I’ve been working on my final year dissertation, looking into the Labour Party’s response to Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, and the attempts to form a cross-party progressive alliance. Having the opportunity to research the period and become basically a niche expert on a small part of it has been a really great experience. I’m just a little disappointed I haven’t yet convinced any of my mates that it is actually a lot more exciting than it sounds…
Who’s your role model?
I don’t think I have any single role model but there are plenty of figures, both past and present, in different areas who are heroes that I admire. To name three: Eric Hobsbawm, Barbara Castle, Jonny Wilkinson.
What was the first single you bought?
Not a single, but the first album I bought was Nevermind by Nirvana, which sparked a long and embarrassing period as a proper grungey teenager. But to be fair, while my hair is much shorter and my fashion sense has thankfully improved since then, I still think the album is a banger.