The Publishing Post
Upskilling Tips for Career Progression Part 2
By Meghan Capper, Tanvi Jaiswal, Misha Manani and Georgia Stack
Do you feel like you are stuck in a rut with your publishing career? Are you an ambitious and career-driven individual? Whatever the case, this week’s upskilling issue is for you because we are discussing all things career progression! For part two of Upskilling Tips for Career Progression, we interviewed Polly Grice, Senior Publicity Executive at Head of Zeus, to find out her top tips and advice for climbing the publishing career ladder. Polly has offered some invaluable advice regarding interviews, personal development, and planning for the future. From nailing interviews to building your network and goal-setting, this issue is sure to help you get the ball rolling, develop your skills, and give you the confidence to apply for that job promotion!
In Conversation with Polly Grice, Senior Publicity Executive at Head of Zeus
“Hi everyone! My name is Polly and I’m a Senior Publicity Executive at Head of Zeus in London, working predominantly on our genre fiction & children’s list. I have been in this role for almost a year; I joined Head of Zeus from Titan Books where I was an Online Publicist working across a wide variety of genre fiction and illustrated non-fiction. Prior to this, I started my career as a Publicity Assistant at a lifestyle publisher.”
How did your experience in interviews vary between entry-level and higher roles?
“I have found that entry-level interviews required me to demonstrate transferable skills. For example, I spent university holidays working at bookshops and literary festivals which provided me with good event experience, and oral and written communication skills. In addition to that, I gained invaluable insight into the publicist’s role from another perspective within the lifestyle publishing industry.
Earlier career interviews also relied more heavily on competency-based questions: “How would you handle Situation X?” and “Tell me about a time when you demonstrated Skill Y” etc, whilst my most recent job interview focused on my own experience in the publishing sector. This is when I was taking on more senior responsibilities and tasks.
I have had to complete tasks for interviews at all levels, ranging from writing press releases to putting together complete press plans on varying budgets. I actually had to do the latter for an assistant position before I got my first job in publishing, which I think is quite a lot to ask of an entry-level interviewee! I find that interviews these days do not just focus on dialogue, but are accompanied by an assessment connected to the position you are applying for.
It can be easy to forget that interviews go two ways! As I progressed, so did my confidence in asking questions of the interviewer and establishing more of a feel for the company. It is important for you to understand if the company is a good fit for you and interviews are a great opportunity for this.”
What are your top tips and advice for those hoping to progress in their publishing career?
“Find your niche! As a publicist, it is much easier to pitch books from genres that you genuinely enjoy (but also don’t be afraid to push yourself and work on books outside of your comfort zone!). You never know what genres you might discover.
Skill-share with your colleagues, especially in the early stages. In my first role, my marketing colleague taught me a lot of basic design tips for Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. These have been invaluable for aesthetic press releases and quick social media graphics as design and art teams are always so busy! I’ve since been able to share these skills with colleagues in subsequent roles, so be open to sharing and learning with each other.
Speak up in meetings. I know I find this daunting, especially at first but it’s so important in building up confidence and good working relationships across departments and hierarchies. Your more senior colleagues can’t know what you think if you never share it! Even if you are hesitant about your idea, you never know how useful it could be.
Think about the future. I find formal goal-setting such an intimidating task, but having an idea of what I’d like to achieve career-wise in the next year, five years or even ten years is really helpful in focusing my career and breaking progression down into more manageable steps. It also helps you to understand where you are heading and what is important to you.”
Thank you very much to Polly for her insights and for being featured in this article! Thank you for reading issue Fifty-Eight. Join us again for issue Fifty-Nine, where we will cover Upskilling Tips with The Publishing Training Centre.