The story started
Hi all, it’s Harry here – part of the PR (and to some extent content writing) department.
This is my placement testimonial telling you a little bit about what I’ve been working on at Pearl Lemon. I’ll also try and weigh up and evaluate my time here. Hopefully, after reading this, you’ll have a better idea of what (hopefully) you might be getting yourself into!
I’m writing this during my third month working with Pearl Lemon, but for now, I think it’d be easier to jump back to…
We could actually call this ‘The Beginning Part II’. This is because I think I must be one of the only (or very few) people who didn’t make the cut the first time around.
Originally, I applied for a placement at Pearl Lemon and didn’t make it past the trial week. I was asked to create content on a subject I’d never even heard of before and (as you can probably guess) didn’t do the best job of it.
I was tasked with writing a long-form guide (5,000 words or more) on PPC advertising. If, like me, you didn’t know that PPC means Pay-Per-Click (a form of advertising) you can probably guess how panicked I felt.
I spent most of my trial week researching, writing, and editing this piece until I had something that I was happy with and…it was totally off the mark. Fair enough, I said to myself (I’ll admit here I hadn’t really grasped the topic at all!).
I took my set-back on the chin and waited for some feedback as to why I didn’t get the call-up. In the meantime, I even started looking at other jobs and placements.
The pointers I received were constructive, however, and I went on my way with no animosity. Then Deepak (Pearl Lemon’s founder) got in touch again.
I thought this was strange enough in itself as you always hear about missed job opportunities saying ‘we’ll keep you on file’. It turns out Pearl Lemon actually did.
This time around, the role was a little different. Deepak already had a strong group of content writers and thought (from experience) that might not be the best fit for me. At first, I was apprehensive at being asked to take on a role I knew nothing about.
Still, I figured I wasn’t doing much else and wanted to get my teeth stuck into some work; so I accepted.
That was around two-and-a-half months ago, and I haven’t looked back since. I think I’ve found a better job-fit and certainly feel more integrated as part of a working and growing department.
Which brings me on to…
To give you some context to the sort of tasks I’ve been doing, I’ll just outline them before I talk about the specifics. Broadly speaking, I’ve been involved in:
If that sounds varied to you; it’s because it is. I think I can safely say that I hadn’t done any of that just a couple of months ago. And yet, in my short time working at Pearl Lemon (be they triumphs or lessons learned) I’ve been not only catapulted into but trusted with some serious tasks.
Deepak and the rest of the team to some extent have felt comfortable enough with my work to let me speak on behalf of and create work as a face of Pearl Lemon at times.
This included joining in on and even heading up some client calls. I also (like the rest of the team) got the opportunity of building my writing portfolio by putting my personalised author bio with most content that I wrote – all on the official Pearl Lemon website!
That sense of autonomy and faith is a far cry from when I was just clearing email inboxes and sending mailings in previous placements.
So let me try and explain how I (and how you too, hopefully) can grow to that level of work in as short a time as I have.
Obviously, this was the stage that caused a bit of a hiccup the first time around.
The first 7-days was a ‘trial period’ for assessment. This first introduced me to even the possibility of remote-working, having recently returned to England in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was also a bit of a ‘baptism of fire’ as to my working set-up.
It was clear that I was a bit of a novice when it came to plugins and extensions, and that ‘proficient at Excel’ would have to be scrapped from my CV for the time being.
I was also introduced to living and breathing on Whatsapp, an app that I’d previously only used when I couldn’t get any mobile service. Since then, I’ve learned that most businesses do now operate on Whatsapp, certainly internally, and that I’d missed the boat on that one too.
During my trial week, I was hit with a deluge of new tools like Loom for recording progress videos, Clockify for tracking my hours, and Archbee for learning resources.
I was also tasked with (yet another) write up for a tool I knew nothing about. This time, thankfully, there was more information with some helpful tutorials filmed by a former team member.
This was all for a tool called Word Pigeon. It’s designed to make copying content from Google Docs to post on WordPress a lot easier. Normally, when trying to do this, it messes up all the formatting.
And so I knuckled down to writing another mammoth guide using all the new tools at my disposal like Grammarly and Monosnap to capture screenshots.
It sounds like a lot (and it was), but I was clearly signposted to Federica (HR manager), Noah (Content Writing Manager) and even back to Deepak (the founder) if need be.
There was never a time, no matter how much information I was getting through, that help wasn’t available (almost 24/7 with everyone working remotely).
I say this because I think one of the biggest takeaways from my time even thus far is the sense of Pearl Lemon’s ‘professionalism without pretension’.
A great example is even our caricatures. On our email signatures, everyone on placement is taken into the fold at Pearl Lemon and given a sense of ownership. After submitting a ‘selfie’, we’re all given company signatures.
I’d never had one of these anywhere I’ve worked before, and I love it. It feels professional, but fun and is really on-brand.
We’re encouraged to communicate in an informative but enthusiastic and somewhat playful manner, whether it be with each other or even clients. This doesn’t mean that we don’t get the job done though.
With working remotely and no longer wearing a suit and tie (or even a company uniform), there was room for me to work to my own schedule in a way I felt comfortable.
This suited me to a tee when I had no other options on the go other than to be working from home. Plus, I was actively seeking a company with a younger team filled with my peers.
I feel like, because of this, communication is quicker and more effective, with less bureaucracy – everyone’s hungry.
And then there was…
After the week trial, my progress and work ethic etc. were assessed, and a decision was made whether or not to continue with my placement.
I was lucky enough to be asked to stay on and was quickly onboarded and filled to the brim with a whole new set of information and tools to help my workflow.
It almost seems hard to conjure a time even in the not-so-distant past where I didn’t work like I currently do now to the standards set both by Pearl Lemon and myself!
After this, I was told that I would be working in a fairly new arm of Pearl Lemon: Public Relations.
When I say ‘new’, I mean that it was, I believe, just me and Heather (PR Director) in a lonely virtual corner office somewhere on the 16th floor. Not to worry, we soon got stuck in.
Our efforts comprised mainly of the onboarding, email campaigns, and pitching that I mentioned in my list earlier. But even this changed rapidly.
What started off as trying to market Deepak and Pearl Lemon to the wider world so that you see the brand everywhere you look, gained new facets almost daily.
Not only did we discover new ways of doing things (with even more time-saving applications!) we discovered new people to do them for!
After quickly pivoting our services to offer them to two existing clients; within a month or so we were in contact with two serious brands – you know, the type even your Mum knows about!
Our efforts focused around using a platform called Help A Reporter Out where we answered journalists’ queries about certain niches.
We also ran link-building and email outreach campaigns to try and offer blogs etc. in Deepak’s niche content in exchange for links.
All in all, I think this worked out better for our internal brands as they’re a bit more fluid than clients’ who have clearly defined niches. The gaining of media mentions for Pearl Lemon always seemed to a cut about our client efforts at this stage.
Now, whilst not everything turned out a success, there’s no denying that we were young Turks hustling and learning.
After that, we settled into the swing of things a bit more. With monthly review calls and training and more communication between myself and Heather, we started securing our methods.
Our press releases became more regular, and we started to see better results. I got to the point where I was (at first daunted and then thrilled by) writing definitive guides on the things that we were achieving.
And this was all going on just in our little PR bubble whilst the rest of Pearl Lemon and their projects were growing and thriving too.
I had moved firmly from the world of content writing into PR. Even the content writing I still do, I try to focus on what I’m learning and find some dual-benefit to our PR efforts.
To refer back to the list (I promised I would), I’ve gone from:
And, just because this one deserves its own list; writing copy for:
To say it’s been a bit of a wild ride might seem like an understatement. Especially since I’m pretty sure I’m nearing the top of the rollercoaster!
The thing about my time at Pearl Lemon is I’ve been asked time and time again to do things that I simply thought I couldn’t, or that I had no business doing. And I’ve been proved wrong time and time again.
The sense of autonomy and ownership is something that suits both my personal and work mentality down to a tee. To be able to put my face or name to the work that we’ve created together as well is something lightyears of any other opportunity that I’ve seen around.
So in the words of one Axl Rose, ‘where do we go now?’.
I mentioned that I’m now cemented both into the Pearl Lemon team and to my placement. Hopefully, the short answer for ‘where do we go now?’ is simply ‘onwards and upwards’.
I definitely want to learn more about process-driven tasks and be able to proudly put ‘proficient at Excel’ back on my CV! I also want to learn more about email outreach campaigns and how to automate them.
And I’d love to get a guest article live on a respected third-party site.
I’ve also started to get into some more ‘technical SEO’ writing (at which real SEOs would probably laugh!). This has been whilst trying to get webpage copy and pages dedicated to Serpwizz’s tools live.
I’ve been helped immensely by the likes of Tenny and Lokesh on the research team who have tee’d me up by finding helpful resources online and doing the keyword research (can’t say they’re my favourite tasks!).
There’s also been more fluid changes in even things like the way team meetings work. Nowadays it’s more like an informal training session and we map out team member’s queries live. It’s good to be able to learn and help solve something at the same time.
With the New Year around the corner as well Heather and I in the PR department have been gearing up for a whole host of outreach campaigns.
After floundering a little at first, Deepak helped us to tighten them up and they should be ready to go and hopefully bring us in all sorts of opportunities and mentions for a great start to 2021.
So with the year coming to a close, where do we go now?
In reality, I know where we’re going (but I’m not sure I can spill all the beans here). I have my workload; I now have my new tech stack (and tech itself) to keep up with our best practices. I have my whole week ahead of me as I write this testimonial.
As for where Pearl Lemon itself goes, the sky’s the limit, and hopefully, you can be (and after reading this, want to be) part of the team that smashes through that glass ceiling to reach it.
In my short time at Pearl Lemon (granted they may have hit the ground running before I joined) I’ve seen actual companies be created and launched (like ResumeCats and Plant Sumo). If that doesn’t just blow your mind and make you want to join up and ask questions; I don’t know what will.
A placement at Pearl Lemon is a fast-paced, constantly changing beast. Ask yourself if that suits you and your work style – it’s ok; it doesn’t suit everyone, and not everyone will last.
But for those who do stay, the rewards and opportunities are endless – just raise your hand, and you’ll be given a new task and become an expert in no time.
For me, the chance to build a varied portfolio has been the key takeaway to set me up for whatever my next step would be. I think the structure of the work-life balance has also given me a purpose in a time when jobs seemed few and far between.
My time at Pearl Lemon has also given me the mentorship and roadmap to doing this sort of stuff. That may sound tautological that you’re taught the type of work you end up doing; it’s not. I’m not just waxing lyrical when I say that I wouldn’t know the first place to start without the experience I’ve gained here.
And that’s the crux of it all. I feel like from here I could either potentially stay or (when my time comes) take my learnings with a handshake and go out and start my career.
If I think I don’t know things still with the sharp learning curve of the past couple of months; imagine how unprepared I was before my Pearl Lemon experience.
I hope that reaching this has made you seriously consider taking the same path as me, and if so I look forward to saying hi to whoever you are, from wherever you’re at, as we work on something awesome in the near future.