This had been my fourth time applying for work experience here with Penguin Random House – the moral of the story is to be persistent – and so, when the offer for this position finally came through, I was ecstatic. I’d never done anything in marketing or publicity before, but it sounded really interesting and so was looking forward to getting started and getting a glimpse behind the scenes as to how books are promoted and marketed.
On the morning of the first day, I was feeling a bit nervous (alongside being very excited) but as soon as I got to Penguin Random House’s offices I felt much more relaxed; everyone was so friendly and welcoming. An induction was the first thing on the agenda, which gave us a brief overview of the company, an introduction to some of its imprints and departments, but best of all: I got to meet the others here on work experience placement. This also meant that I didn’t have to travel to the Pimlico office on my own – which was nice! Throughout the placement, it’s been fascinating to hear what the others have been doing in other departments and imprints. Plus, it gave me someone to go to lunch with!
Once I finally got to the Ebury office, the work began! I’ve been given a whole variety of different tasks to do which has been really interesting and given me a fascinating insight into how a marketing office runs. I’ve done everything from writing tweets, posting out promotional material or proofs, reading manuscripts and writing copy for blogs. I have even had a go at planning out a marketing campaign for an upcoming release, which was amazing and gave me a good insight into how everything fits together.
One of the best things about working here at Penguin Random House has been the atmosphere around the office. Everyone is really helpful and keen to help me learn and make the most of this experience. Plus, you’re surrounded by and working with amazing books all day long, so of course the work is enjoyable. Though, writing out a tonne of addresses for posting can get a bit monotonous, I will admit. It is still good to do though, as it gives us a realistic idea of what the job might be like, not just all the fun stuff.
Overall, if I was going to give any advice to someone about to start work experience it would be to just get stuck in as much as you can. Oh, and ask questions. You really do get out what you put in.
Come September of my third year, I had no idea what to do with my degree. I had seen the Penguin Random House work experience programme and hadn’t expected to get in but decided trying couldn’t hurt. After being able to work in the Marketing and Communications department of Penguin General, I am so glad I did.
I was so nervous on my first day I arrived two hours early and sat around waiting for my supervisor Corinna to collect me. As soon as she arrived I knew I had worried for no reason. She was so friendly, as was everyone in the department. A lot of people constantly talk about how nice the people in their department are and what I quickly found while here was that it is all true. Every single word. I have literally never been so supported in a work environment ever. Publishing does not attract people who are hard to work with at all.
While I was there I mailed out a lot of books, made show cards and press releases, made phone calls to help arrange events among general admin work. People in my department would email me tasks and I would put them on a to-do list and be helped with prioritizing what needed doing. You should usually have another work experience person helping you as well.
Personally, I found mailing books weirdly therapeutic and it was exciting seeing all the new titles that different people were working on. It also gave me a better idea of what kinds of books everyone in the department was into, which is always an interesting point of conversation. I had the opportunity to work on a Showcard for the Waterstones in my hometown which was really exciting. I can’t wait to walk past it in the shop and have someone stop me from screaming I MADE THAT! professionally gaze at it while quietly feeling accomplished.
I also learnt a lot from just watching the people around me do their jobs. Sitting in on meetings was especially inspiring because Penguin Random House meeting rooms were full of passionate driven women who had a platform to talk about the stories that were important to them. Even people who were new to the department had the opportunity to talk about their work and look completely badass while doing it. Even if you don’t want to go into publishing, it was worth applying just to be inspired by them all. I left those meetings feeling really inspired each time. They also gave me a real insight into how campaigns were organised and what they were about.
If I had one piece of advice it would be to talk to the people in your department. Everyone in is going to be phenomenal at their jobs and the opportunity to pick their brain and find out how they got into what they are doing is invaluable. They were also more than willing to help, even when they’re really busy, which I was really touched by. What I found was that everyone had taken very different paths into their jobs and as someone who had never applied for work experience before now, I found that really reassuring.
Penguin is probably the most accessible publisher I have come across thus far. They really care about diversifying their company and this has become even more obvious this year as they’ve changed The Scheme to a positive action programme for those from a socio-economically disadvantaged and/or BAME backgrounds to apply.
I also got even luckier and was able to stay at The Retreat with The Book Trade Charity, which was a whole separate experience within itself. The Retreat is run by the lovely Glenda and is every book obsessed person’s dream. It is a little bungalow that is available for people to stay at if they need to while doing work experience for a subsidized fee. You have your own bathroom, small kitchen, books that you might like around the bungalow a library for you to use on site. While I was there I managed to use my evenings to rekindle my love for Zadie Smith and William Shakespeare.
(clearly one of them did not love me back)
I also read You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris and cried a lot on my last night, but it was a brilliant book and I would recommend it for some light emotional reading. I wish I could have taken more pictures to share with you, but you’ll just have to apply and see for yourself. You’re going to love it.
I’ve known I wanted to go into Publishing for a few years now – which means I’ve kept an eye out for any internship or work experience placements being offered to international students in the UK. Early in January, while spending too much time on Twitter a tweet from PRH Careers UK caught my attention – they were offering work experience placements on a random allocation basis and you didn’t need a (UK) degree to apply. Since I had a right to work in the UK with my visa, I decided to give it a shot. I got a rejection email in February but decided to apply for the next batch anyway, hoping I’d luck out the second time – I did. I got placed at Penguin Random House Children’s with Marketing and Publicity around the end of May.
Now that I had been allotted a placement, I was a bit worried – what if my offer was retracted once they realized I could only work a certain number of hours per week? But I needn’t have worried – they were very understanding about my restrictions and allowed me to come in according to my weekly hours. I was allowed to set my own hours – either come in every day for a few hours or for three full days in the week. Wanting to get a well-rounded experience from the placement, I chose to come in for four to five hours every day.
At Children’s Marketing and Publicity, the team was warm, welcoming and encouraging – I never felt as though I was a burden on any of them, in fact, they valued my input and my help and always made sure to say so. My duties included managing fan-mail (both email and letters) for authors and some website curation (I handled some mail for Jacqueline Wilson which had my eleven-year-old self squealing). I also mailed out a lot of books and bookish swag – as a blogger who’d been on the receiving end a couple years ago, I had a new found appreciation for those who had done it before me. I also created some assets for marketing – for websites and apps where authors shared and interacted with their fans which were really exciting and allowed me to exercise my creativity – seeing some of it online was also a huge bonus.
I was also incredibly fortunate as during my placement there were talks held with people from Rights, Production and Editorial so we were able to ask several (probably repetitive) questions and understand what it took to make a finished book and beyond. These talks shattered a lot of preconceived notions I had about working in Publishing and helped me realize that there were a lot of avenues I could get into and use my skills in.
Possibly my favourite bit about working in Children’s was when during a team meeting I displayed so much excitement about Rick Riordan and the Percy Jackson books that I was later invited to talk/brainstorm about a newsletter about the books (this had my present self squealing) and the fandom itself. PRH Children’s was also different in the way they allocated mentors to every work experience intern – my mentor guided me and had a chat with me where I was encouraged to ask any and all questions I had about publishing which to a clueless but passionate student is immensely useful. Along with my mentor, everyone in the team was welcoming and encouraged questions – they wanted me to get as much as I could from these two weeks which I found very kind and I’m grateful for.
Having finished this placement, I have gained some invaluable skills such as using Biblio3 (the metadata system used by most publishers to store data) and I have a new found understanding of my strengths which has made Marketing & Publicity my first choice instead of Editorial along with making Children’s and Young Adult the primary genre I’d like to work in. Plus, I got paid and got free books so that’s a win-win too.
Marketing and Publicity is about breaking through the noise.
It’s how you get – and keep – people’s attention.
It’s also about building audiences and communities for our authors and brands – and keeping them hungry for the next instalment.
Each of our Publishers has its own dedicated Marketing and Publicity team.
The Digital team amplify campaigns across the group and our Communications team look after our corporate voice, both internally and externally.
It’s not about a hard-sell – and often, you’ll have to be creative with your budget. It’s about starting conversations with readers and forging loyalty to an author or brand.
We don’t mind if you’ve worked with books before, or not. What we look for in this area are creative ideas, digital savvy and the persuasiveness and adaptability to see those ideas through every step of your campaign.
Digital technology is allowing us to get closer to our readers than we’ve ever been before.
And bonding with our consumers online will ensure that this relationship lasts – today, tomorrow and in the future.
The Digital team leads our consumer strategy across the business.
From Insight and Marketing to Publishing and Digital Development – the team is all about getting close to our readers and bringing our brands to life online.
Whatever your background – whether you’re in marketing or product development – having conviction in your ideas, and the persuasion and practical skill to make them happen, is what we look for.
Digital technology has revolutionised how we consume entertainment – not just books, but film, broadcast and music too. If you’ve worked with digital audiences in any of these areas, we’d love to hear from you.