PRWeek 30 Under 30 profiles, part 1

In the first of a three-part series, PRWeek profiles individuals who made it into our 30 Under 30 list and asks about their achievements, their ambitions and how they view the industry.

Rebecca Annable, 29Account director and partner, Lansons

The agency’s second youngest partner, Ann­able works across high-profile accounts including Barclays, Asda, uSwitch and Société Générale, and advises on campaigns up to CEO level. "Everyone sits up and takes note of her counsel," says Lansons.

 

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Launching Metro Bank as a trainee executive in 2010. Being able to say you launched the first high street bank in more than 100 years is something not many can claim. I will never forget the day I had to stand in the road and dir­ect traffic in Holborn to let the BBC vans in.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

If it’s all about content now, then this is only going to get bigger, but more importantly it’s going to be about the way it is delivered. Social media will still play a role but what that role is, is a blur to me because you never see what’s coming. Different technology comes and goes but good PR never leaves.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
I’d love to have the title of head of media. It’s my passion and my favourite part of the job. Being able to have a rapport and great relationship with journalists is tough, not only because of our love/hate relationship but because gaining their respect is one of the toughest challenges PRs face.


Jordan Bickerton, 25 - Consultant, corporate comms, Fishburn

Identified as a "stand-out star" by his emp­loyer, Bickerton has quickly accelerated through the ranks, being promoted to associate consultant and then consultant within two years. Clients including L’Oreal and Shell have asked him to lead workshops aligning CSR and business priorities. He previously worked on the Obama for America campaign in Virginia, helping to run the office and door-to-door canvassing.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

The award-winning campaign (Sabre) for the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. The digital arts project united artists with genocide survivors, and showcased the creative responses to their testimonies to drive engagement with a newer, younger audience. It led to a measurable uplift in the percentage of people who understand genocide commemoration really well.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

It will be more focused on delivering business value. Digital/social will no longer be a mystical, separate platform but a ‘hygiene factor’ for any decent agency. There will be a shift towards a campaigning approach, lifting tactics from the world of politics.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Directing high profile, high impact campaigns that deliver meaningful social change.


Harriet Black, 26 - Account director, Orchard PR

Black works with clients across the financial, retail and entertainment sectors based in Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. Since joining Orchard in 2011 as an account executive, she has worked her way up to director level. Des­cribed by Orchard as "an inspiring figure for young PR practitioners in the Channel Islands", Black was instrum­ental in the pitch that brought Barclays’ Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man accounts to the agency.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

I should say winning my first pitch or getting my CIPR diploma, but really it is climbing to the top of Guernsey Electricity’s giant engine shed despite my fear of heights and wearing high heels that day…

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

The definition of PR is evolving to include technology and innovations in both content creation and analytics. Digital and social media have changed everything: we can no longer think about ‘audiences’ – everyone now expects to be communicated to on an individual basis with specific, personalised content. PR is adapting to this shift but it is a challenge to change established mindsets and traditional marketing strategies.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Hopefully still working in PR. I have become more involved in crisis communications recently and would like to further specialise and develop my skills in this area.


Jessie Bland, 24 - Content strategist, Waggener Edstrom

Praised for her "tenacious, client-first app­roach", Bland is the primary creative force across the agency’s two key social media acc­ounts and has inc­reased not just the size of these communities, but also levels of engagement. The former journalist is skilled at being able to turn media trends into customer engagement.

 

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Moving from writer to content strategist. It’s a trajectory that’s allowed me to combine my writing ability, digital knowledge and social media savvy in one role.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

As technology continues to revolutionise the way we live, work and communicate, it’s crucial the PR industry develops at equal pace – if not faster. Over the next 15 years, PR’s remit will grow broader and broader. It will no longer be defined by the ability to gain coverage, or attract journalists to an event; it will be defined by the desire to reach a brand’s audience – in whatever way necessary. That could be a crowdsourcing social media campaign; it could be an augmented reality experience; it could just as equally be a brilliant piece of video content.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Consulting global brands on the content they need to create and amplify across smart and wearable technologies, with the support of a savvy team.


Laura Buchan, 28 - Head of PR, Confused.com

Buchan was appointed head of PR at Confused.com at just 26, a year after she joined the company in 2013. Since then she has taken all PR in-house. She has a diverse comms background, and was one of the founding members of London-based PR agency Third City.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Being appointed head of PR at Confused.com at the age of 26. I’d always aspired to run my own PR department and to do so at such a young age was a dream come true. It’s also allowed me to create my own in-house PR team, removing Confused.com’s reliance on an external PR agency for the first time in years.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

The changing media landscape will require PR professionals to have even greater flexibility in their skills and abilities. Those of us working in PR will need to become ‘proactively reactive’ – the rapid speed and accuracy of the delivery of message content is vital.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I would like to continue to head up a successful PR team at a prominent and exciting brand. It’s also important to me to always remain on the PR ‘front line’. I never want to completely lose contact with journalists, or not play an active role myself in the researching and writing of campaigns.


Emma Carr, 26 - Director, Big Brother Watch


Carr has been director at campaign group Big Brother Watch for just under a year, acting as a liaison with government officials, policy groups and MPs. Credited with helping to raise the group’s profile and influence government policy, in 2014 Carr was quoted on 11 national newspaper front pages, amassed 2,524 press hits and was cited 11 times in Hansard, as well as giving evidence to two parliamentary committees.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Speaking at Latitude Festival last year on the Literary Stage. Being given a platform to speak in front of hundreds of people to promote the work of Big Brother Watch was a pretty great moment for me.

How do you expect PR to change?

I don’t think anyone could have predicted the impact 24-hour rolling news and the internet was going to have on PR. The next 10 to 15 years will probably build on that. With technology like wearables becoming incredibly common, we are going to start getting news, information and advertising even more quickly than we do now.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Very much still working in the PR industry. I am passionate about politics and technology so I hope that I will be able to pursue a career that mixes the two.


David Clare, 26 - Programme director, Hotwire

Clare has "always been one of the rising stars of Hotwire", the agency says, and became its youngest programme director at the age of just 25. He leads the strategy and planning for some of its biggest clients, including Red Bull, Shazam and Rdio. The versatile Clare is also the founder of Pixel Health, a tech news website he set up while senior account manager at Nitro Digital.


What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Right at the start of my career, or before it in fact, I created a simple Twitter list that featured 500 Power Book entrants (or those that were on Twitter at least). I managed to get the attention of all the major players in PR as they discovered hundreds of new followers overnight, which led to landing my dream job at Hotwire.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

There are going to be a lot more scientists and mathematicians. We’re so obsessed with data and measurement (and rightfully so) but the traditional route to PR is often through a non-scientific degree. This will have to change if the industry is serious about its commitment to proving real business results.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I’d like to be running a futurology team that looks for the next trends and jumps on them on behalf of our clients.


Gemma Cook, 27 - PR manager, Samsung UK & Ireland

Cook started her PR career in 2006 as student brand manager for Red Bull, before undertaking different in-house and agency roles at firms including Home Retail Group and Kazoo PR. In the words of her nominator, she has "transformed" PR for the Samsung b2b team, taking the coverage off just the tech pages and into consumer, lifestyle, nationals, business and broadcast.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done with Samsung’s b2b team. I was really proud when we landed coverage on BBC Breakfast as well as a great piece on virtual reality in b2b on Sky News.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

At Samsung we’re always asked how we think technology will develop and, really, anything is possible. Ten years ago, we weren’t even using smartphones and now we can’t imagine a life without them. No doubt social media and the way that we consume information will continue to change; whatever happens PR will have to be flexible and move with the changes.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I would love to think that I will still be involved in technology. I’d also love my own agency.


Joanna Crawford, 26 - Senior account manager, Cicero Group

The former Temple Bar Advisory account manager has been praised for achieving impactful coverage for clients in national business media, working with brands such as online retailer sofa.com ahead of its sale, and supporting one of the largest Chinese inward investments into Africa with Jinchuan’s acquisition of copper and cobalt producer Metorex.

"The quality of her advice and her ability to manage high-profile situations with the most senior clients is simply remarkable," says her employer.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

I have recently had the opportunity to work with a group of extremely talented and experienced financial services organisations on the launch of a very exciting project that has the scope to make huge changes within financial services.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

The speed required to respond to events in this new world, along with CEOs and senior management becoming increasingly publicly accountable, will present a growing challenge. It is often no longer sufficient for a response to be only a prepared statement – active and ongoing engagement is needed. Therefore, integrated communication services across businesses, coupled with comprehensive strategic advice, are becoming increasingly critical to successful PR.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

One of the great things about PR is having the opportunity to work closely with the senior management teams of a variety of interesting and exciting clients – being able to provide valuable and timely advice gives me huge satisfaction. In a decade I would hope to still be in a position to provide that support, both to clients and to younger, developing PR staff, but with the additional years of experience under my belt.


Lucy Davies, 28 - Associate director, Edelman

Davies has spent seven years at Edelman working her way up to associate director. She is the youngest person to sit on Edelman Technology’s board of directors and oversees accounts including Microsoft UK Cloud PR and Hitachi Data Systems. "Lucy has the outlook of a start-up entrepreneur," says her employer. "Nothing is impossible."

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Building Edelman’s Enterprise Technology sub-practice, growing our portfolio of technology brands and working with people who make brilliant work happen. I’m a technology geek, so working on Microsoft UK Cloud PR has been a highlight, as has winning an award for ‘The Rise of the Humans’ content marketing campaign. I’ve been honoured with a global ‘Q Award’, Edelman’s most prestigious award for quality client servicing.

How do you expect PR to change over the next 10 to 15 years?

Disruptive technology players are challenging legacy brands, and there is an important role for communications, today and in the future, to help everyone from start-ups to global players articulate their vision, demonstrate innovation and build trust with stakeholders. The channels we use to engage audiences will evolve, we’ll be more heavily reliant on data, and our expectations will move from ‘real time’ to ‘instant’.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

My ambition is to be in an executive leadership position.

Click here to view PRWeek's overview of the 30 Under 30 article. To view our video and picture gallery of the day, click here.

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