FIVE YEARS IN PR: FROM INTERN TO S.A.M.
Walking in to her intern interview at DEC PR, if you’d told Maddy she would be with the company five years later and leading the team on some of the biggest brands in the world, she wouldn’t have believed you. But here she is!
PR has taken me to some weird and wonderful places and led me to meet some even weirder and more wonderful humans! I’ve been to Warwick, Shepparton and Rockhampton delivering water to rural communities in need. I’ve been to Cairns to enhance children’s literacy skills in remote areas. I’ve turned Bondi Icebergs into the largest kitchen sink. I’ve created one of the biggest random street dance parties in the middle of Circular Quay during Vivid. And I’ve been to Melbourne to gift a five-year-old boy a prosthetic arm made from recycled bottle tops.
These all might sound like passion projects, or strange hobbies I’ve picked up after a few drinks, but they have all stemmed from an idea within the agency, that has been built over months with care and consideration, as we endeavour to overcome the business challenges clients present us with. That’s what we do here at DEC PR, all with a little fun along the way.
The vast nature of a role in a PR agency has certainly surprised me, and in honour of my five-year anniversary in public relations and as a DECstar, I’ve compiled a list of the most important things I’ve learned about the industry for anyone thinking of exploring a career in PR.
Being a sponge is the best way to learn
The media and PR industries are constantly changing, and it's important to stay on top of the latest trends and developments. Whether it's attending industry events, reading up on the latest news, or simply chatting with colleagues, there's always something new to learn. And the knowledge won’t just come from senior people in the industry, it comes from every level. We know Gen Z and Millennials will soon be the majority in the workforce and will also be the most influential consumers so it’s time we start listening to the young ones, as they know a thing or two about what young people want. The message here is to absorb, absorb, absorb – you will learn something from everyone!
Crisis comms will supercharge your knowledge (and contacts)
It’s crazy to think that three out of the five years I have worked in the industry have had some level of COVID disruption. But what this has taught me is that no matter what client, no matter what industry, no matter what your remit is, you need to be well equipped in the art of crisis communications and be readily available to provide this advice to your clients when they need it most. What crisis comms also affords you with is the opportunity to build direct relationships with the most senior people within your client’s businesses as you coach them through crisis scenarios. A rare and exciting learning opportunity that should not be overlooked!
Reading the room is a cross-functional tool
Something I love about PR and working at DEC is that we’re not pigeon-holed into a particular niche or industry. I’ve endeavoured to gain as much experience as possible, across as many industries as possible so that I can keep learning and developing in my career. Working across so many industries teaches you that everyone does things very differently. It’s important you work to match your client’s tone and even how ‘business’-like they dress, ultimately adapting to how they operate to get the most from the relationship. This has taught me so much in my personal life too. It’s built my skills in building deep relationships with a cross-section of people and knowing how to really read the room and adapt how you approach things.
You’re only as good as your media contacts list
Public relations is much more than sending out a pitch and hoping for the best. It's about understanding the media landscape, knowing your audience, and finding creative ways to tell your story. It's about strategy, persistence, and a little bit of luck. I’m sure my team is sick of me rambling on about the importance of a watertight media list, but this is truly the most important part of any campaign. Immerse yourself in the titles you’re going after, read through the past 10 articles the journalist has written, and ensure your pitch is absolutely relevant for who you’re targeting.
It’s a fun, wild ride – enjoy yourself along the way
One of our values at DEC PR is being playfully professional and boy does the team live up to that ethos every day. Working in PR is never dull. Every day brings new challenges and surprises, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a fast-paced, exciting industry filled with talented, creative people who are always looking for the next big story and how to accelerate your client’s brands. Make sure you take all of that in along the way and just enjoy yourself!
I don’t think many people come away from their workplace and genuinely have fun every day. But I can wholeheartedly say that I do. I’m in awe daily of the incredible minds I get to work with in my team, my client teams and within our wider network. Every day is a new challenge and tasks you to think outside the box, but if you master the above, you will nail it. Promise.