Career Transformation - MA in PR with New Media at MTU
by Helen O'Keeffe - Co-Founder & Director at Auctioneera Estate Agency
26th June 2023
After working in insurance, marketing and sales for several years, I realised that I needed a change in my career path. I began researching postgraduate courses that could help me carve out a new direction, and the MA in Public Relations with New Media caught my attention with its module content and structure.
Having had completed my BBS in Marketing in Cork Institute of Technology in 2001, returning to college life after a decade was challenging, but the supportive and friendly lecturers made the transition easier. As a student in my early 30s, the smaller class size helped alleviate any apprehension I had about being back in an academic setting.
The course offered diverse content that I thoroughly enjoyed. With a marketing background, had some understanding of public relations, but I was eager to delve deeper into the subject. Exploring the media aspect of the course exposed me to cutting-edge topics in the marketing world. At the time, Facebook was the dominant social media platform in Ireland, but now we have witnessed the rise of Instagram, influencers, and platforms like TikTok. The symbiotic relationship between public relations and social media has never been more important, making the MA in PR with New Media highly relevant.
Throughout my studies, we worked on various projects for different modules. One standout project involved creating a PR plan for Cork Racecourse’s “Racing Home for Easter” Festival in Mallow. This hands-on experience allowed us to engage with stakeholders, visit the location, and collaborate as a group, providing valuable insights into client expectations.
We also had industry practitioners as guest speakers in our lectures, offering invaluable insights into the PR profession and how they navigated various challenges. Crisis PR was a key topic of study, which is particularly relevant in today’s fast-paced, online world.
Once I had completed my thesis and exams, I began applying for relevant positions. I was fortunate to secure a short-term contract with a leading dance studio in Cork. The owner, Donna Daly Blyth, became an exceptional mentor. In addition to managing a successful dance studio, she held the licensing rights for the Angelina Ballerina dance franchise in Ireland and the UK. This role provided me with incredible experience, and the journalism module in the master’s programme prepared me well for writing a weekly article for the studio in The Echo newspaper. Despite limited advertising funds, I successfully gained publicity for the Angelina Ballerina dance franchise by targeting local radio stations near our franchises across Ireland and the UK. It was a steep learning curve.
This experience solidified my interest in content creation and social media. Subsequently, I applied for a position as a “content marketing executive” at a digital marketing agency specialising in search engine optimization (SEO). In this role, I focused on generating backlinks for clients by creating original content in their industry niche. Over the next seven years, I worked with leading brands in Ireland, assisting them with their website content.
Later on, I ventured into a completely new industry—property. Five years ago, my colleague and I started an estate agency called Auctioneera. In the last month, we celebrated our 1000th property sale. Breaking into the traditional auctioneering sector required significant effort, and we continue to drive our marketing efforts forward with national radio and online advertising campaigns.
Overall, I attribute my career progress to the MA in Public Relations with New Media. The programme equipped me with the necessary credentials and toolkit to advance in my chosen field. I wholeheartedly recommend this course to anyone interested in PR or seeking to refine their marketing skills.
Helen O’Keeffe is a co-founder of Auctioneera Estate Agency, specialising in residential property sales in Cork, Dublin, Meath, Kildare, and Wicklow.