Could you give us a brief overview of your corporate communications career so far?
My PR career started in 2012 on the Taylor Bennett Foundation internship programme which was hosted in partnership with Brunswick Group. It was an intensive 10 week course designed to help participants with little or no background in PR to understand the fundamentals of the career and how to deal with the day to day demands. I then secured a role at Cow PR a small consumer PR agency in London Bridge and was given my first shot of working as a full time PR Account Executive. It was an interesting experience and I worked for brands such as Coral bookmakers and even represented Cancer Research UK for their annual ‘Stand Up to Cancer’ campaign.
Following this, I quickly realised that I was much more intrigued by Corporate PR which led me on to two years at Havas PR. During my time at the agency I was given the chance to provide support for many clients across Europe and the USA such as United Technologies Corporation and Atos Healthcare. In February 2015, I joined FTI Consulting to work as a Consultant in the Corporate Property team which is a part of the real estate practice.
What do you enjoy most about your role at FTI?
There are many things I enjoy about my role but what I enjoy most is that every day has a different challenge. My team at FTI support and advise major commercial property companies, developers, landowners and housing providers on projects throughout England so most of the work we do is either in top tier trade media or in the national media in some way. This means that my work has a direct impact on my client’s reputation and personally there is no better feeling than securing great coverage or making sure my client is included in a feature or interview on an interesting topic. I also enjoy the networking element of my role as I am given the opportunity to attend many industry events.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career to date?
One of my biggest challenges was drafting a presentation on the purpose and importance of public relations, which had to be presented to over 25 marketing and centre managers for one of our major property clients. It was a real challenge as I had never presented to such a large audience and the presentation required me and my Director to talk for one whole hour without a break. I worked very hard on this task and to my surprise I did a really good job as I rehearsed the slides several times and made sure I really understood what was required of me on the day.
Tell us about your mentor Lord Michael Hastings – how your mentorship came about, and how he has helped you in your career
I met Lord Michael Hastings at a drinks reception in the city and was very inspired by one of his opening speeches. I didn’t actually mean to bump into him but we got talking over some canapes and then I bravely asked for his card. I followed up with an email to say thank you a few days later and being the great man that he is, he invited me to the House of Lords for breakfast for a longer conversation to find out more about me. It was great to hear that Michael had previous PR experience and he told me about his time at BBC. He has been a great role model to me and we meet regularly to catch up on a professional and personal level. I have also found it very useful to have him as someone to bounce ideas off and also take guidance from.
What previous experiences and educational background would you recommend for someone who wants to begin their career in the corporate communications world?
I don’t think there is a specific set background but I would say a background in English, Business or Journalism would be beneficial. PR roles do require a lot of writing so these subjects may give you an edge when applying for entry level roles.
In one sentence, what would you say is vital to making professionals stand out in the corporate communications sector at your level?
I would say it is key that you can show and prove that you can take initiative; show something you did, not something you were asked to do and then showcase the result. However, ALWAYS be eager to listen and learn from your senior colleagues and be nice.
And lastly, how do you define great PR?
Good PR is about managing expectations and connecting the client’s product, service, idea or cause, and key messages to the audiences they seek to reach in a positive way.
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