After gaining a vast knowledge in social media marketing, influencer relations and crisis management, Rachael Martin graduated from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh in 2021 with a BA (Hons) Public Relations, Marketing and Events degree.  

Now titled BA (Hons) Digital Marketing and Public Relations, Rachael’s experience at QMU led her straight into a job in the sector where she has utilised the skills she learned at university to continually work her way up the corporate ladder. 

Why did you choose to study at QMU? 

Given that I grew up in Northern Ireland (the same place that Liam Neeson grew up!), I really wanted to experience living somewhere new and Edinburgh seemed like the perfect location.  

I also wasn’t too sure what I wanted to study at university. I was interested in communications and social media, but struggled to find a course that would best suit me and wasn’t too specifically orientated on one singular subject. All I knew is that I wanted a creative career that would never get boring and something I’d get excited to get out of bed for in the morning.  

That’s when I came across QMU and its unique range of courses that covered all sorts of different topics that I thought would be valuable. No other universities offered a course as broad as BA (Hons) Public Relations, Marketing and Events, and covered skills that I knew would be beneficial to me no matter what sector or industry I ended up working in.  

What did you enjoy the most about your course? What was the highlight? 

I really enjoyed how varied and dynamic the course structure was. One minute we would be preparing for a live crisis management situation with mock clients, the next we would be organising and promoting our very own event on campus, and then we would be designing a website and developing a social media campaign.  

Everything I learned on my course was practical and useful, and made me realise that I particularly enjoyed the digital aspect of public relations. 

Did you enjoy your time at QMU?  

"I would honestly say that being a student at QMU was the best time of my life. I would very happily return to that stage of my life again – I have some very happy memories from this time that I will always cherish."

I really liked the community feel at QMU. Due to its size, things weren't as intimidating as I feel like they would have been at larger universities - you felt like you knew everyone, or at least were familiar with their faces when they would pass you on campus! 

I feel like I really made the most out of my time at university too. I joined the QMU Women’s Hockey team in 1st year and was actually appointed as their Social Secretary in 2019 for the year – it was great fun! I loved getting involved with all the university events, such as Varsity, Hockey away days, and Grand Ball. I also went on the QMU Ski Trip in 2019 to Andorra, which was absolutely amazing and a real highlight. 

What did you think of the facilities on campus? 

I really liked the Students’ Union and the café in the main university building too. QMU has such lovely grounds and outdoor spaces so I also loved walking around the campus with my friends, especially when the sun made an appearance! The gym was really handy, as I could just go for a quick session in between my classes or while I was waiting for the train – they had some really good fitness classes and instructors. 

Did you stay in halls in 1st year? 

"I actually spent two years in halls as it was so handy and in my 2nd year, we were able to request to live with our friends. Being so far from home, it felt safe and secure, and it meant I didn't need to worry about private renting. I could roll out of bed for my classes each day! It was also really easy to get to and from Edinburgh city centre, and it was an ideal location for Portobello Beach and Fort Kinnaird"

What have you been doing since graduating from QMU? 

After I graduated, I was lucky enough to secure a month-long placement position at one of Scotland’s leading public relations agencies, Holyrood PR, based in Leith. I absolutely loved my month at Holyrood PR, and found I was able to put so many of the skills that I learned throughout my four years of university into practice. Holyrood also allowed me to tailor my placement experience to suit me and my preferences, so I was able to help with social media and with the website too.  

Following my positive experience at QMU, I decided to continue my studies and start a Master’s degree in Digital Marketing at Heriot Watt to hone the skills I gained at QMU in all things analytics. While completing my Master’s degree, I managed to secure a part-time role at Holyrood PR as a Digital PR Assistant. Since then, I have received a series of promotions which have now seen me land a role as Senior Account Executive.  

I’m in charge of managing several different client accounts from major food manufacturers, to smaller, independent businesses, to walking charities. Digging out stories is something I love about the job - being able to say you played a role in helping to improve a business in some way is pretty incredible. 

I love being part of the team. Everyone is really supportive and always there when you need to bounce ideas off of someone. Every day is completely different which is great and there’s always something new and exciting happening. 

What did you learn at QMU that’s helped you in the working world?  

The lecturers at QMU had really good industry knowledge, as well as all being really passionate about their subjects. The Programme Leader, Ann Turner, was fantastic - she was always highlighting placements (like the one at Holyrood PR), and other ways of developing your career, such as joining CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations), which I thought was really helpful. All of these additions were great on my CV.   

I also liked that a lot of the assignments at QMU were based on real life scenarios and situations, which gave you a taste of and provided you with tangible work that could be put into a portfolio when applying for jobs. I remember we did an assignment where we had to host an event called ‘BURSTING negativity’ and we held it at the Students’ Union – it was great fun but was also an amazing organisational experience.