Account exec Hannah Dawson is Galibier’s latest new recruit. We welcome her with the customary Q&A…
Tell us a bit about yourself, how did your journey towards PR start?
I studied history at university, which may not initially seem relevant to PR, but actually a lot of the skills are directly transferable to the industry. A history degree largely hinges on the ability to conduct meticulous research, convey convincing messages and persuade people of your argument – competencies that, to varying degrees, lend themselves well to PR.
After attending a talk at university from the Managing Director of a PR agency, I thought a career in this sector sounded right up my street, and realised that it would allow me to put into practice some of the elements of my degree that I really enjoyed.
Following this, I managed to secure some work experience at an agency in Harrogate. I was lucky in that they assigned me varied and meaningful tasks, giving me an accurate reflection of what working as an account executive would entail. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and here I am now!
Why did you join the PR world?
Mainly because I enjoy producing work with the specific aim of influencing opinion. I’ve always loved writing, and wanted a job that could incorporate that quite extensively. I also want a career that will keep me engaged by offering variety day-to-day, and PR certainly does this!
What advice would you give to someone thinking of a career in PR?
I think there are two main points that I’d want to emphasise here. Firstly, I think it’s important to try and get some direct PR experience, whether this be in-house or in an agency. It doesn’t matter if it’s only for a short period of time. It shows prospective employers that you haven’t merely applied for a position on a whim (which a lot of recent graduates tend to do), but that it’s a considered choice and is the culmination of a sustained interest. I would also say that when applying for jobs within an agency, people should think carefully about what that agency specialises in, and whether or not this interests them. If they loathe the fields the agency operates in regularly, they will probably be very quickly disillusioned with their new job!
What’s the most important skill in PR?
Aside from the obvious (communicating key messages well), I think it’s very important to be perceptive and astute, particularly regarding any news stories that could be relevant to the client. This will allow you to seize opportunities when they arise and think of interesting hooks to sell-in to journalists.
What is the biggest misconception about your career or industry?
When I first told people that I wanted to go into PR, a frequent response was ‘oh, so you’ll be standing on the street handing out flyers for nightclubs’. It annoys me that an industry that requires intelligence, creativity, diplomacy and excellent communication skills is confused with cheap promo work! I’ve also come to realise that a lot of people assume that we pay for any coverage we obtain for our clients, when actually, that’s purely down to hard work and involves no transactional activity.
What are you enjoying most about your role so far?
I find the editorial side very rewarding – it’s a great feeling and a good confidence booster when a client is happy with an article you have written on their behalf.
What did you want to do when you were younger?
I’ve always loved watching Wimbledon and when I was little I used to harp on to my Dad about the lack of British female players. He was very encouraging and told me that if I pursued it there was nothing to stop me from being the next big thing. I did play for a bit but suffice to say I was no Serena Williams! Then when I was a little bit older I decided I wanted to be a magazine editor after watching the film 13 Going On 30. This one stuck with me for a lot longer!
Tell us something interesting about yourself…
I spent five months travelling after I graduated, ticking off South East Asia, New Zealand and New York. I got to do some amazing things, like bathing baby elephants, and throwing myself out of a plane from 15,000 feet!
I’m also the craziest of crazy cat ladies, though – as a dog-centric company – my colleagues might find that more strange than interesting.
Who’s your role model?
I don’t really have a role model as such, because there is no one person I would aspire to be wholly like, but there are lots of people I admire for different reasons. To maintain the Tudor theme established by Lorna when answering this question, I think Thomas Cromwell had many admirable qualities, despite his reputation as an evil manipulator. He kept Henry VIII happy for nearly 10 years (no mean feat), and I think his pragmatism, wit, sharp mind, and ability to seize opportunities are something to aspire to!
What was the first single you bought?
I’d like to start by stating that this is in no way a reflection of my music taste today. The first single I remember buying was Madonna’s ‘Ray of Light’. It was in a bargain bin in Woolworth’s and I think I just wanted to feel grown up and sophisticated!