February 3, 2020, by abrierley

Global Placement Grant – Student bloggers visit Nottingham

By Lauren Pinkney,  BSc Hons Economics

At the start of the academic year, I took on the role of ‘student blogger’ for Visit Nottinghamshire. Being a ‘student blogger’ involves attending events and local businesses in and writing up your experiences to inform other potential visitors. Visit Nottinghamshire is the tourist board for the county. It advertises and promotes local events and businesses to tourists and locals looking for information about what’s going on in the area. The blog section of their website is where mine and other students have had their posts published.

I became aware of the student blogger scheme via an email from Rachel House of the Economics department. Like a lot of people, I often skim read my inbox but emails from your department or the careers and placement office are ones I would advise paying attention to. They can direct you to exclusive opportunities being offered by local businesses.

I emailed Sophie Milne, the communications executive, some examples of my writing and a couple of paragraphs about myself. I was lucky to have completed a short online course in freelance journalism over the summer, which improved my written communication skills drastically. However, Sophie and her team want students to blog for them, so are not after masses of experience or know-how, just a flair for creativity and writing. Maybe you have a talent for knocking up engaging restaurant reviews? Or write a lot of essays on your course? These can all help to showcase your talents.

I was contacted a few weeks later to let me know I’d been successful in my application. About 15 students were taken on. We were informed that we’d be receiving emails about opportunities to visit local areas of interest and that they would be distributed on a first come first serve basis. After a couple of weeks, Sophie made it clear that those who had not had a chance to write a post yet will receive preference to ensure everyone got a chance to get their name on the blog!

It’s made clear what parts of the trip will be paid for by the business. Travel costs are not covered but everything is pretty easy to get to with public transport. I was successful in receiving an opportunity for myself and a friend to attend the Halloween club night at the National Ice Centre. Sophie is great in connecting bloggers with the company to ensure tickets have been reserved and the next steps are clear for everyone.

The club night was good fun. I’m no Torvill and Dean but the music was great, the atmosphere was lively and we had a laugh. As part of the process, student bloggers are instructed to take photos of the event to be used in the blog. Photos need to be as good a quality as possible (even if that means stealing a friends phone or camera for the day!).

I also made some notes while I was there, describing the activities available, the prices, the menu at the café, the costumes I saw (there was fancy dress!) and any other details I thought were relevant. It’s important to remember why you’re there – to write a post advertising the company / event to others – so it’s important to note down details that potential visitors may find useful i.e travel connections, location, child friendly features etc.

I received a few pointers from Sophie about the length of the blog, specific details the company were keen to include and also the deadline. But, apart from that, I had a lot of freedom to write in my own style and was encouraged to be as creative as possible with my language and humour. Deadlines are usually a week or two, so there’s no stress about getting it done in time.

To anyone interested in becoming a student blogger for Visit Nottinghamshire, I would advise using the time before the next round of bloggers are selected in Autumn to look for other opportunities to write online to figure out your style and to start preparing a portfolio of work. There are lots of platforms great for blogging like Medium, Quora or WordPress. Any experience in writing to inform and entertain others will put you in a great position to be taken on as a student blogger and to thrive in this role.

The Visit Nottinghamshire website receives 250,000 readers a month. Having my work published for such a huge audience has done wonders to boost my portfolio. It’s great to be able to show future employers that I can be trusted to deliver quality content to a deadline and for it to be suitable for such an established company in Nottingham.

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