Gen Z: 'PR is an ex-girlfriend wearing a T-shirt saying "He's good in bed"'

PRWeek sat down with four trainees at W's new social enterprise, WX, to find out about life at the agency, their impressions of PR and whether kids really dig Stormzy.

Inaugural WXers (L-R): Maya Egbo, Lucas Green, Caroline Akintunde, Jay Young and Adam Savva.
Inaugural WXers (L-R): Maya Egbo, Lucas Green, Caroline Akintunde, Jay Young and Adam Savva.

W Communications has launched a social enterprise, WX, to improve social mobility and diversity in the industry.

The programme offers paid three-month internships and long-term employment opportunities to young people aged 18-21 with basic education who "have the ambition and creative drive required to forge a career in communications".

The first intake comprises Maya Egbo (20), Lucas Green (19), Caroline Akintunde (21), Jay Young (21) and Adam Savva (19).

PRWeek caught up with them at the launch of WX to find out why they joined and what they've learned so far.

What did you know about PR and comms before joining WX?

Lucas: "I had only heard about fashion communications because I have a couple of friends at university who are a bit older and do that. Aside from that I knew very little. All three of us did a media course and there was virtually no mention of PR and communications at all."

Jay: "I'm more into photography and filmmaking and don’t know much about PR. I thought it was more doing [publicity] for celebrities and running their [social media] accounts."

Caroline: "I didn't know much about it and linked it with advertising. Before this I did an internship for an ad agency and thought it would be the same thing, but since I've been here I've learnt it's completely different. I enjoy it more than when I was in the ad agency."

Maya: "It's something I wasn't too familiar with, but what I did know was that it was in media and quite creative, and I'm a creative person. I knew about publicity, but it was less to do with brands and more to do with people. Anything in media I always want to have a stab at and find out more."

How did you find out about WX and why did you join?

Jay: "I was contacted by a careers adviser at City & Islington College. I was in two minds about going to university, so when our careers adviser called it provided a very valid alternative route."

Caroline: "I got called by my careers adviser way after college. I had made up my mind that I didn't want to go into uni because my uncle who does radio told me it wasn't necessary. I also couldn't afford it. When my career adviser called I was very interested."

Maya: "I found out on Instagram. There were sponsored ads. It targeted to me and said: 'Are you not in uni and not thinking about going to uni, within this age range and are you creative?' I wanted to find out more information so clicked on the link. I had to email Zoe with something creative I had done in the past. It wasn't long or boring or asking me to send in a CV, which sometimes puts me off. It was simple and clear, and I could send in the work I had created."

What have you learned so far?

Lucas: "Being quite young we missed out on reading newspapers and stuff; you go to your phone. There's so much personally that I would miss out on because I thought it was just the 'news'. Zoe is drilling into us to read the news and that it's really good for you even if you don't want to do PR, it's good to know what's going on outside your bubble."

Jay: "It's broadened my understanding of the media landscape, because before I went into this there was a lot of different things, but they weren't really connected. Now I really see things as a whole, and a lot of that is [due to] doing different research tasks and reading different papers, magazines and other media."

Caroline: "I’ve learnt to separate PR and comms from advertising, because it is so much different. Usually people think of celebrities when they think PR, but it is so much more than keeping track of social accounts – it's about creating brand image and getting customers to more than just buy a product but relate to a brand."

Maya: "So much. Key things are sell-ins, doing outreaches to press… we've dabbled in everything and worked with loads of brands like Adidas. We went there this week and got first-hand experience of working at a red-carpet event. It was really cool to work backstage and behind the scenes, seeing the media lists and cheat sheets."

Is Stormzy who brands need to connect to young people? (Photo: Samir Hussein/WireImage).

How would you describe this job to your friends?

Caroline: "It's really challenging but you have got to be up for the challenge."

Jay: "For me it's about always being on top of your game, you can never be slack. Even when you get home you need to read a newspaper."

Lucas: "There's never a dull moment. Every day you work on different sectors and it's really interesting."

Maya: "We got taught advertising is some guy wearing a T-shirt saying 'I'm really good in bed', and PR is his ex-girlfriend wearing a T-shirt saying 'He's really good in bed'. That's how I try and describe it to other people."

It's early days, but have thought about a career in PR beyond this programme?

Jay: "I don't think I would go 100 per cent PR, but I would like to do a mix of PR and advertising, making content for clients. Since being here I've realised how important it is to do both."

Lucas: "There's a couple of people here who have the best of both worlds – they are hands-on, get to create things, but they're working on the PR side of things as well."

Carolina: "I don't know yet. I'll see where the wind blows, but I am enjoying it so we will see."

Maya: "I've definitely had thoughts. We've been working on so many things at a really fast pace, the more it goes on, the more I'm getting submerged into PR as a career. The more I do it, the more I start to like it."

Are you into Stormzy?

Maya: "Yeah, of course. He's a legend."

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