Communications professional working in politics by way of consumer PR.
How did you get into PR and government communications? What was your first job and what did you learn most from this role?
I always wanted to get into politics and campaigning, but actually cut my teeth working as part of a consumer PR team, before doing some work in financial services and moving to Whitehouse in 2010.
Mine wasn’t a typical route into the worlds of public affairs and issues communications. But I learnt a lot about what makes a good story, working with journalists and copy writing.
What does your current role entail on a day to day basis?
A large part of my day is spent in contact with clients, advising them on their communications and making sure our work is contributing to their business goals. That might mean writing opinion articles for them, briefing journalists, or supporting public affairs activity. And increasingly my day to day work involves representing Whitehouse externally, speaking on panels on topics such as reputation or crisis.
Which campaign/issue are you most proud to have been involved in?
There are two that stand out. The British Gurkha Welfare Society – we pushed for them to get equal pensions after they were granted settlement in the UK. The other one would be JanUary, which is a campaign we’ve created from scratch to encourage healthy living and improve public health.
How important is gaining experience within political institutions when considering a career in public affairs?
I’m sure it’s helpful but I wouldn’t think it’s essential. I didn’t go down that route.
What’s been the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
There’s no such thing as a stupid question.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in government communications?
Firstly, give it a go. Not enough people do. Read vociferously and learn as much as you can about whatever subjects you’re working on. Show initiative and don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to.
How important is postgraduate study to a public affairs career? How relevant is Degree subject for a government communications career?
You’ll probably have a better knowledge of the political and legislative processes if you’ve studied politics, history or international relations. But ultimately it’s about the skills you get from your studies and how you apply them. Similarly, postgraduate studies are useful, but I wouldn’t think of them as essential. You can learn policy content – research, writing and communication skills are what’s important.
Which skills are key for a successful career in PR?
Intellectual curiosity, good verbal and written skills, entrepreneurialism and an ability to take the initiative and be proactive.
What’s your prediction for the UK Referendum on EU membership on 23rd June 2016?
We’ll stay in after a close vote. I just hope people take the opportunity to vote. The Whitehouse team have actually created a site that sets out the arguments for and against. Check out online here.