I don’t remember knowing that public relations career was a thing until well into my twenties. I remember whilst working in an advice agency attending an event. There was a woman there representing a water company who was so pleasant and made the whole meeting so much more fun than usual. As I love to communicate and am interested in ideas, I think a public relations career would have suited me quite well. In the end, I did shape some of my jobs to include a degree of public relations. If you fancy moving into PR, be inspired by Ellie from the The Audit Lab who moved from apprentice to manager in super quick time.
Tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years
I started my career in my teenage years, and am still yet to turn 20, so there’s still time for me! As I have worked from such a young age and didn’t go to university, there isn’t really much to tell other than my job in PR.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
My first job was as an apprentice in Digital PR, which I started when I was 16, just four weeks after leaving high school. I learned so many things being an apprentice that I still use to this day, it’s where my journey started!
What attracted you to a public relations career?
I’d just left school and wanted to do something other than school again; I really wasn’t the kind to go to university and spend another 3/4/5 years in a classroom. I loved the idea of starting my career early and when the job opportunity came up to spend my time creating ideas and conversing with people, I jumped. Three years later and there’s nothing I would change.
How did you get into your public relations career?
I started an apprenticeship at a digital marketing agency in Bolton after I left high school. My apprenticeship was completed and I haven’t looked back. Since then I’ve switched companies, climbed to the role of Senior Digital PR Manager and have been nominated for and won industry awards. I like to think that I sort of fell into PR but ended up falling in love.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I like to consider myself a real people person. I don’t think anyone would describe me as a wallflower! The great thing about PR is that you get to speak to people every single day and I love that. I love building up strong relationships with journalists, getting to know them and really learning what pitches and content they prefer to see. It’s mutually beneficial for them and our clients.
What is your least favourite part of your job?
When August and December comes round and that horrible feeling that you’re not going to achieve many (if any!) results for your clients starts to settle in. These are the two months of the year where everyone downs tools and either goes on holiday or has clocked off for the festive season. We tend to use these months purely for idea creation across the board. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves we turn it around and use it as an opportunity to really get creative and come up with fantastic results for everyone next month.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you job-wise?
The funniest thing that ever happened to me was when I attempted to become a blogger myself, having worked with them for so long. I thought about what I liked and my mind immediately came up with ‘steak pies’. So, I started a blog all about steak pies. It’s true, and still live to this day. Although I haven’t written anything new since 2017.
What qualities does a PR person need?
You definitely need the ability to hold a conversation. A dead conversation with a journalist isn’t going to get you anyway. You need to be conversational and have a strong personality that is positive, enthusiastic and infectious. You want people to be happy when they see your name appear in their inbox.
We deliberately run content marketing sessions where our ideas are looked at from every possible angle; we try to rip them apart and make them go wrong. While this is great for making sure an idea is going to work, you need a thick skin. Remember that it’s nothing against you, it’s about the client and getting the best results possible for them.
Leading on from this, you also need to be open to new ideas. People will tweak and adapt your ideas in these sessions and you need to not be protective. Remember, it’s about the client.
What skills does a PR person need?
Strong writing skills, personable and a positive attitude. You’ll be writing a lot of emails back and forth to journalists so not only do you need to be able to spell, but you also need to be friendly. A lot of success in PR hinges on the relationships you form with journalists and bloggers. A one-time opportunity may grow into more just because you’ve put the time and effort into getting to know them and making them your friend. And, on the flip side, there’s often a great deal of rejection involved but the results will come through, just keep at it!
I’d also recommend brushing up on your Excel skills. We use it to keep track of all our links and the quality that comes through so we can easily report back to clients at the end of the month. Don’t panic though, a basic grasp of functions should be all you need!
What advice would you give to a girl or woman who wants to get into PR?
DO IT! If you enjoy speaking to other people and you feel you’re a creative than it’s a great career path to follow.
How do you ensure you look after yourself properly? What do you do for self-care?
I’m really big on self-care and having a proper work-life balance means a lot to me. Yes, I’m guilty of checking my work emails at home (who isn’t?) but I only do it at set times to keep on top of emails and urgent correspondence from clients. I try really hard to leave work at the door when I go home; I think that it is incredibly important. My weekends are for relaxing, no shop talk whatsoever!
I try to eat as best as I can too – not the easiest thing to do when you work in an office! And I also head to the gym a few times a week, even if it’s just for a small workout in the evening. I find that it helps to clear my head after a tough day. Sometimes you’ll even find me in bed at 9:30 on a school night! Gotta get those 8 hours.
Oh, and I always have breakfast before I leave the house no matter what time it is. You need that fuel for a long day ahead!
Who supports you in your career and life?
Without a doubt, our Director and my Line Manager, Claire Crompton. Not only is she an inspiration to working women everywhere (she started her own business with a son and continues to do so having just had her new baby girl!). She has placed a great deal of trust in me to set up and run the Digital PR department without micromanaging at all. I’m incredibly grateful for everything she has done, and continues to do, to support me.
If you could recommend ONE book to women what would it be and why?
I make my way through business-related and career advancement books whenever I get the chance – I much prefer industry articles on the future of digital marketing and where PR is heading. But one I have to recommend is ‘Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office’ which was passed onto me by a coworker. It’s really helped me to re-think how I go about my daily tasks even right down to things like the wording of my emails. Highly recommended for any career-driven gal who wants to work their way up the ladder.
If you could recommend ONE website to women, what would it be and why?
I have a few blogs and online magazines bookmarked on my laptop, but one that I regularly find myself reading in downtime is The Everygirl. I head there for the Careers and Wellness categories; they’re quick and easy reads but also really useful.
Could you fancy a public relations career having heard Ellie’s story?