Austen founded Emerge as a 22-year-old graduate, despite never having worked for a PR agency. The fashion and lifestyle specialist now has 18 staff and projected 2017 fee income above £1m.
How has PR differed from your expectations?
It has changed so quickly. The development of alternative social platforms, redefining influencers and the migration of old to new media, and how they work together, has meant that the industry has changed in the past five years at a rapid pace.
What skills and attributes do modern comms professionals need?
Curiosity above anything else. Being interested, and caring about brands, is hard to fake, and when it’s genuine, it really shows. Understanding the moving parts that work with you – marketing, advertising, creative – and how and where you fit and what value you contribute is important.
How important is ‘old media’ to you and your job?
Really important and, I think, often undervalued. Migrating to new media doesn’t mean dissolving it. It means understanding how it is evolving and what and where the value of it is. I think ‘old media’ is still important to brands and this idea of leaving it behind completely is unrealistic and ineffective.
How do you see your career developing after 30?
I will be the CEO of the most exciting company in this space for decades.