Where are you based?
What job do you do?
Director of Global Communications and marketing
How did you get into marketing/communications?
I am a former national news journalist/editor who jumped the fence in PR and Communications over 12 years ago (can just about hit 80 words a minute tee-line now, down from the usual 100!)
Over the years as a journalist, I sometimes got a bit fed up with PRs going on the ‘hard sell’ to gain just gain column inches and always thought – there has to be a better way than this! (Of course, some were very good)
I went on a steep learning curve, both on the job, and academically to ensure my PR/comms and marketing skills and expertise were not seen to just be a focus for media relations ‘what coverage can you achieve’, being a former journalist. I’m now a Chartered PR practitioner (CIPR), a nominated member of the CIPR Council for 2019, and Vice Chair of the #AIinPR panel, leading the industry on the adoption of AI within our own working processes but also ensuring we are keeping our skills relevant for the times we are now in – think home assistants, voice search and automation – but also so we know how the products are built to best advice our organisations and clients on adoption.
I’m a firm believer in not only our disciplines being a strategic management function but also we are the ones who need to help organisations/clients/services with solutions to problems be they products, new ways of working, service changes/additions etc – rather than just do the messaging.
What are you most proud of in your career as a marketing/communications professional?
Gaining Chartered PR status after a rigorous whole day assessment by top industry PR assessors. There are around 70,000 people practicing PR/Communications in the UK, that we know of and only around 270 of us are Chartered. It’s a fantastic endorsement of our skills and highlights our strengths in strategy, ethics, and practice and reinforces PR/Communications is a strategic management function bringing real value and benefits to organisations.
How has marketing/communications helped the organisations you’ve worked for?
It has helped to build and maintain profiles and profits and keep reputations intact, mostly!
It has been great to work with the organisations which are purpose-led and have a nice outcome/s for most people/its stakeholders but there have been situations such as the crisis ones where things are touch and go but the outcomes are, in the main, positive.
The advocacy work is always fantastic as that’s where you can make a real difference to people, be they customers or stakeholders or just people interested in your area of business/work.
The policy piece is always a good area to get my teeth into as this is going right to the top, usually government, for changes hopefully for the better. Ensuring your org/client, or its chief exec has a voice/part to play in this brings real added value to the organisations/clients and opens the doors to further PR/marketing opportunities.
What challenges have you overcome on your professional journey to where you are today?
Working in complex organisations operating in huge amounts of countries globally but not having their own internal processes/thinking joined up to then deliver huge transformation programmes and re-brands external – is always a toughy.
Being a woman, with a voice at exec/board level, is not always easy and there is still the pay/equality gap we all have to overcome. This is getting better but there is still some way to go.
Being a PR/comms person and also a marketer has its real benefits but can also be tricky to convey to some organisations who are very set in their ways of operating in silos rather than cross-discipline working.
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone starting out in the marketing/communications industry?
Be a sponge!
Get on to social and have a presence – blogging is a great way to interact with people and to pick up on new learning and practice.
Ask for a coach and mentor – everyone is willing to help.
Attend industry talks and events – a lot are often free or really low cost. You’ll always pick up something and try to attend some which are not in the direct sector you work in, as again you’ll always pick up on something to explore further/utilize in practice or expand your network. Data and tech being two of the areas you need to know now, with the advancement of AI in particular.
Above all, become a member of the CIPR, PRCA or CIM – or all three: It’s invaluable and by signing up to the code of conduct you are getting off on the right foot for ethical practice, which is an absolute must.
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