Hello Nicole, let’s start with how you got into PR…
I studied journalism at university, got all the required NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) qualifications and then went out and got myself some real-life training at the likes of essentials magazine and local papers including the Reading Chronicle. During that time I noticed how many features and stories began life as press releases faxed through to the editorial staff (fax – yes I really am that old). This peaked my interest so I started looking into PR.
By the time I finished my degree I had already decided the ‘dark side’ was the way forward and a fortnight after graduation I began my first role as a PR assistant working on B2B tech accounts and FMCG clients. I’ve not looked back since.
What excites you most about your job?
We are at the coalface of the media industry, which is in a real state of flux at the moment. For someone that doesn’t like standing still, it’s incredibly exciting. I love the fact our business changes day-to-day and wish I could fast forward five years to see what PR 2.0 looks like in our increasingly digital world.
Predicting which social platforms and media outlets will stay and which will go is a favourite pastime of mine. Will the pay wall and subscription services approach work or implode? Will Instagram stand the test of time? That’s a different interview altogether, but it’s questions like this facing the entire media and marketing landscape at the moment and it’s exactly this type of future gazing that makes me excited to be a part of the industry.
Which PR sector do you specialise in?
I am totally against the notion that a jack-of-all-trades makes you a master of none. For that reason I refuse to tie myself down to one sector alone. I have zero interest in being a one trick pony.
I was equally at home launching the first digital TV for Sony, Galaxy handset for Samsung or Smarter Wi-Fi kettle as I am promoting a new sunglasses collection for Silhouette or a luxury freestanding bath tub for Victoria + Albert baths.
Once you understand the fundamentals of PR you can work across multiple sectors with ease and it’s this fluid approach that sets Little Red Rooster apart. After all, there aren’t many agencies that can secure a full page in the Sunday Times Style for a radiator, a Bachelor pad shoot in GQ for a bath or secure a full page for a a Smeg blender in a beauty shoot for Cosmopolitan.
Describe your happy place?
I am happiest wherever my family are. I can’t be away from my daughter Margot for too long or my heart begins to hurt.
I’ve also been known to feel pretty cheerful with a glass of fizz in hand, out with my girls, listening to some old school hip hop or drum and bass. You can take the girl out of Reading….
Describe your work wardrobe?
My go to footwear is flats. A controversial fashion choice, but at 5ft 9″ I don’t need the extra height and it makes moving from appointment to appointment so much easier.
For meetings I opt for a smart dress or pantsuit, while on office-bound days (few and far between) it’s jeans, a Breton stripe top and adidas sneakers or leopard print flats.
What makes Little Red Rooster different from other PR agencies?
Well, the fish rots from the head down in most agencies, with senior staff sitting in their ivory towers far removed from the day-to-day running of accounts. This isn’t the case at LRR. Vic and Henry are ingrained in every part of the business and still get out and meet and greet media and influencers on a daily basis. This really does set us apart.
‘Ours is a broad church’ is one of our favourite sayings. LRR isn’t interested in making everyone into clones, unlike some other companies I could mention. Each and every member of the agency is unique (some more than others – Henry I’m looking at you) and as such we all bring different assets to the team. It’s something to be celebrated and part of what makes us so formidable.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to work in PR?
Don’t! Just kidding.
First off, read, read and read some more. Newspapers, magazines, blogs, whatever your preference is you need to be a voracious reader, thirsty for knowledge. Getting under the skin of each media outlet to understand its agenda and political leanings, along with how each journalist thinks and writes, plus what they need from a PR, is a key part of the role.
Secondly, you need to be able to write. If you don’t know how, learn. Take an evening course to improve your skills. This is vital to all aspects of the job.
Once you’ve begun working on those two things, get yourself some real life experience via internships, work placements or use your tenacity to secure your first role as a PR assistant. There are no short cuts in this industry; you really do need to learn from the bottom up. Any agency worth its salt knows nepotism doesn’t pay when it comes to building a strong team and nothing will ever replace hard earned experience.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I have two:
It’s PR, not ER. For me this phrase encapsulates many things. Firstly, what we do is important and we are incredibly privileged to work in this industry, but it’s not life and death. Keeping calm is vital in this profession as is trusting your instincts. When you are well informed and knowledgeable there will always be a way through any obstacle, to deliver the best possible outcome for your client. Panicking helps no one. All it achieves is a state of paralysis through fear, which is totally counterproductive. Calm is a super power.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
In PR there are many things that arise throughout the day that can derail you entirely if you let it. Don’t.
This is where a strong b******* radar helps. Keep everything in perspective and realise many of these petty issues are fleeting so don’t give them airtime. I try to ask, ‘will this matter in a week/month/year?’ If the answer is no then accept it as best you can and move on.
If it truly is a big deal then give your everything to resolving the issue and once resolved, move on. Dwelling helps no one.