PRWeek 30 Under 30 profiles, part two

The second of PRWeek's instalment of our 30 Under 30 profiles digs deep into the professional lives of some of the hottest young PR stars in the UK.

Shelley DeBere, 27 - Senior account manager, Markettiers4DC

Previously of IPC Media, where she helped launch the woman&home website, DeBere has won multiple awards for her work with major clients at Markettiers4dc including Slater + Gordon and Bayer Animal Health. She was promoted from account executive to senior account manager in less than five years.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Launching the world’s first 24-hour dog radio station – Hound Waves – last year at Crufts. It achieved 205 items of top-tier broadcast coverage, five million-plus engagements with the campaign on social media, and resulted in a 70 per cent year-on-year sales increase for lungworm preventive treatment, Advocate.

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

The PR industry as a whole will need to become more adaptable and innovative as it looks to navigate the rapidly changing media landscape. Brands will need to be more adventurous and not afraid to stick their head above the parapet when it comes to creating engaging, daring content. Crucially, there will need to be an understanding that the one-size-fits-all methods of old are truly a thing of the past.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I hope I will still be working in a job that I really enjoy, for big brands and organisations with an engaging story to tell, and whose comms will help to positively influence the lives of others.


Rupert Esdaile, 24Senior account manager, Golden Goose PR

Esdaile’s MD Miki Haines-Sanger des­cribes him as "the best combination of new and old-school PR that I have found in 20 years, and his client achievements have included promoting the growth of controversial website BeautifulPeople.com and masterminding the launch of Vice Cream, a ‘female Viagra’ ice cream.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Working alongside the in-house team at Vodafone Group to launch its pioneering global mat­ernity policy this March. Being able to use my voice, platforms and contacts to help people is something I feel very passionate about. Not only seeing the incredible media coverage, but learning that other companies have recently followed suit, makes me very proud.

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

Right now, brands seem to be realising how imp­ortant boutique agencies are to the industry because we can move quickly, flexibly, creatively and get great results. I believe the next decade will see a rise in smaller or more specialist agencies working with global brands, to help reach consumers in a more meaningful way.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Working flexibly but still full time in PR, as I sun myself on a beach in LA with (hopefully) all my hair, a beer and that six-pack I’ve been putting off getting for the past 10 years.


Georgie Howlett, 29 - Senior consultant, Forster

At just 23, the former Lawton Communications and TMF executive formed PR agency Red Dog Communications before joining Forster, where she is its youngest senior consultant. Howlett is credited with helping transform Girlguiding’s media profile, enc­ouraging Tesco to change its practice on access to bathing water for ducks through her work with the RSPCA, and spearheading growth among Forster’s clients relating to older age.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Seeing the veterans of Bomber Command finally have a memorial where they and their families can pay their respects to those who lost their lives. My role, alongside my colleagues, was to help raise the money to build and maintain the memorial. In our sector, sometimes the change we create isn’t always as palpable, so I feel lucky to have played a part.

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

The sector will continue to morph in many ways, but the atomisation of news media is particularly interesting, as more people get their news and information through social media. The gatekeepers might change from media brands to specific journalists or influential people or organisations. However, the need for these sources to be truly trusted will become increasingly important over the coming years.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I hope to still be working for positive social change, helping to improve the world around us in some way.


Dan Jones, 28 - Manager, large car comms, Ford of Europe

Billed as one of the most impressive PR performers in Ford’s European line-up, Jones joined in 2009 and has held several positions in Ford Britain. He was responsible for the launch PR of the new Mondeo, S-MAX, Galaxy, Mustang and Vignale brands.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Getting widespread coverage for a story on Ford safety technology (an electronic speed limiter) seemed an impossible mission. But by thinking laterally and getting more creative we took the story beyond automotive media and into national news titles as well as consumer print, digital and social.

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

Both journalists and consumers now inhabit the digital space, with the internet providing platforms for information, entertainment and social interaction. This constitutes a major challenge as we seek to stand out from the noise of competing brands. I expect so-called ‘big data’ will help us target consumer groups with the right message to the right person at the right time and on the right platform. Demarcation between marketing and PR will evaporate, although the skills of creativity and storytelling will live on.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Living abroad, working as a communications leader and strategist and managing a fun team of creative individuals. I will probably have a pet Labrador and own a flying car.


Oliver Jones, 29 - Head of comms and sustainability, Aggregate Industries

Part of the Conservatives’ 2005 general election campaign team, Jones is now undeniably a high flyer in the PR world, leading a team of 15 and reporting directly to the CEO of a business that employs around 4,000 people. He is the only senior manager in the firm under the age of 30. His enviable CV also includes stints as senior comms manager at Asda and senior campaigns manager at the CBI.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Standing at the front of a town hall meeting in Birmingham defending plans for a new supermarket. Just by being there and having open and honest communication you could see the initial resentment turn to interest and even support.

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

We all know PR will become ever more focused on digital. But the advent of digital means something else: more knowledge and more power for consumers. So rather than reacting to ‘crises’, the role will be more about being the conscience of the business and proactively avoiding decisions that could lead to crises.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Communication skills will be increasingly important (and valuable) to any in-house board-level role during this time. I’d like to find myself on the board of a well known UK business.


Hayley Kerrigan, 29 - Senior account director, DeVries SLAM

Described by her employer as an "extremely high-performing PR all-rounder", Kerrigan has numerous award-winning campaigns under her belt. She joined DeVries SLAM after moving from Sydney where she worked at Porter Novelli. As head of brand strategy she oversees six EMEA teams for cult brand Zippo and runs three UK consumer brands.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Challenging myself to expand my PR skills and horizons into international markets. Over the past three years I’ve gone from running a dom­estic PR activation portfolio in my home town of Sydney to getting to grips with the UK market and going on to lead six EMEA teams for DeVries SLAM’s largest client.

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

While the overall art of PR will remain the same, new channels will arise, digital developments will continue and consumers’ consumption of content will evolve. The more critical change I anticipate is enhanced expectations from clients, brands and companies towards evaluating our work. We need to step away from monitoring pieces of coverage, views, likes and shares to measuring sentiment, sales and overall business impact.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I don’t know where in the world I’ll be (hopefully my mum isn’t reading this) but the overall aim is to be in a role where I’m happy, challenged and delivering exciting campaigns.


Krissy Koslicki, 26 - Campaign director, Seven Hills

Previously of Bell Pottinger, Koslicki consulted across FTSE 100 and start-up firms bef­ore joining Seven Hills, and advises some of Britain’s top business leaders and entrepreneurs. Her work has included devising and delivering a hard-hitting media campaign for national enterprise competition Tycoon in Schools, and spearheading the media launch of the Digital Business Academy.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

What I am exceptionally proud of is the campaigns I have crafted with some of the UK’s top business leaders and entrepreneurs including Peter Jones CBE and Paul Lindley. Working directly with founders presents opportunities to work on high profile, fast-paced campaigns and gives me a real insight into some of Britain’s most exciting businesses.

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

The fundamentals of PR will remain the same, but in an ever more crowded marketplace brands need to behave differently in order to achieve cut-through. PR is going to be about defining the purpose and the wider importance of a brand, as well as presenting it to the market. What that means is that PR can’t just be a delivery mechanism or bolt-on but needs to be part of shaping the entire business strategy and the mission.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I see myself very much at the beating heart of agency life and thriving within a fast-paced environment that presents different challenges day in, day out.



Claire MacDonald, 29 - Account director, PrettyGreen

MacDonald joined PrettyGreen in 2010 and has worked her way up to account dir­ector, leading some of the agency’s biggest accounts including Nintendo and Thorpe Park. Described by the agency as "one of the best in the business", MacDonald has rec­eived high praise for her work with diverse clients including Virgin Media for its sponsorship of the Commonwealth Games, where she delivered more than 150 pieces of over­whelmingly positive coverage in under two months.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

One thing that stands out is having had the opp­ortunity to get involved with BBC Children in Need for the past three years. Securing coverage that might spur someone to pick up the phone and donate is an incredible buzz.

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

It’s going to be a case of evolution not revolution. Kids learn coding at school now and digital and social media are changing so rapidly so PR will continue to seek out new ways to keep up and predict what’s next. Content will continue to be a vital tool in storytelling (the rise of YouTube and vlogging is testament to that), so I expect PR campaigns to be less foc­used on traditional media platforms as practitioners become better versed in all disciplines.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Building brands and telling stories.


Frank Marr, 29
Founder and creative director, A Marr & Associates

Marr co-founded his agency when he was just 23, and now leads a 10-strong team, with clients including Slovenia’s tourism agency Spirit Slovenia, VI Hotels & Resorts and Gran Canaria Natural. Marr’s role as creative director spans all clients, resulting in a fresh approach to traditional PR tactics.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

After starting up from nothing in rural Wales, I have built a successful agency (alongside my sister) that now has offices in both east London and Scotland, and a team of equally ambitious and professional individuals.

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

Elements of the industry will become more closely aligned with what is traditionally considered ‘marketing’, while there will continue to be a heavy emphasis on the use of new technology. At the same time, PR will continue along a more well-established path – developing and maintaining relationships with the media. The industry will become more campaign-focused, with planning becoming more sophisticated and a considerable increase in analysis and metrics influencing ideas.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I hope to continue to work closely with my colleagues so we can develop a team of capable PR people who strive for innovation and who have a different approach from the PR industry norm. We also hope to grow our already great group of associates to find the most talented people within the creative sectors to work with.


Elizabeth Mercer, 27 - Account manager – technology, FleishmanHillard

The former BumpPR account executive joined FleishmanHillard in 2012 and made agency history by becoming the most junior person to win a UK retained account with tech company NVIDIA. An example of her work includes growing ‘tier one’ media coverage for data storage giant Seagate by 800 per cent after developing ‘The world’s hard drive is running out’ programme.

What has been your proudest achievement in PR?

Something I’m working on at the moment is ins­piring me. I’m working with a household name to renew and redevelop guidelines for all its existing and future content – helping to def­ine exactly how the company will engage with its customers, partners and employees across its many markets. This huge exercise in strategic communications is a challenging and fascinating task of which I’m proud to be part.

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

If PR is tricky to explain to my dad today, I bet it’ll be even harder 10 years from now. The lines will continue to blur between brands and consumers, between audiences and influencers, and PR will inevitably become more integrated and collaborative. Though our methods may change, what we do will stay the same.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I’d like to be running a vibrant, exc­iting and growing technology group at FleishmanHillard (much like the team I’m in now) or be head of global PR for a game developer or publisher (I’m a gamer and have a real passion for this industry). I could be very happy in either role.

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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