A placement year in London set Jo on the road to success, where within nine years of graduation, she was managing her own beauty PR agency.
“I started at UCLan on the Public Relations course,” recalled Jo. “But my flat-mate was doing Fashion Promotion and it looked to be my dream course - I used to sit in the evenings giving her ideas and generally longing to be on her course. Eventually I decided to see if I could switch courses – which I could - and never looked back. As soon as I started on the Fashion Promotion course, I knew it was the right path for me. The course was a mix of theory and creativity and we looked at everything from marketing and graphics to photography and styling.”
During her degree, Jo spent a year on placement at various PR companies in London, even working seven day weeks at one point. “I worked in a shop at weekends to pay for me to be able to do unpaid work experience during the week. Looking back, it was all worth it, as I gained invaluable experience and contacts.”
Upon graduation, having left UCLan with memories of “a fantastic time, both socially and academically,” Jo had two job offers to consider, both coming directly from contacts gained on her placement year.
“I spent six years at a PR agency specialising in fashion, events and music and eventually set up a beauty division there. It was a fantastic time, applying lots of the skills I had gained at UCLan and on placement in the world of work. I was then approached by Estee Lauder, where I spent three years as their Communications Manager.”
Jo had always had a love of the “buzz” of agency life, eventually leading her to consider opening her own PR agency. “I had stayed in contact with the CEO of Exposure – an agency where I had worked on placement – and over lunch told him of my thoughts about opening a PR agency. I was thrilled to hear he wanted to support me, which meant I had the expertise of one of the world’s leading PR companies behind me when I needed help. This was just the encouragement I needed, and Beauty Seen PR was founded.”
Since opening in 2007, Beauty Seen has grown to employ 28 people, represent brands such as Toni & Guy, Topshop Make Up and Decleor and be recognised by PR Week as the ‘Best Beauty PR Agency’ in 2011. “UCLan introduced me to a new world and set me on a path which culminated in owning my own company in a field I am genuinely passionate about. It’s been a wonderful journey” said Jo.
TOP TIP FOR UNDERGRADUATES: Get some work experience. It’s a unique opportunity to experience as much of an industry as you can, you’ll meet lots of people and have the chance to really make an impression. It can be invaluable.