Profile: Rachel Cameron, head of PR, Samsung

Rachel Cameron has set high ambitions at Samsung UK - and she is in a hurry to achieve them, writes Arun Sudhaman.

Rachel Cameron
Rachel Cameron

At the ripe old age of 31, Rachel Cameron is finding she has rather a lot in common with her new employer's mantra.

'Impatience is a virtue' is Samsung's tagline for its new Jet handset. And Cameron, in her first two months as head of PR at the company, appears to have taken those words to heart.

She has already revamped the electronics giant's agency roster, appointing The Red Consultancy and Kazoo to spend a budget of more than £500k. New hires for her in-house team are in the offing, alongside a major summer offensive to drive home that message of impatience.

'I've literally started from scratch and I'm moving at 100 miles per hour,' she gasps. 'We don't have time.'

In person, this kinetic energy is something to behold. One agency chief comments: 'Rachel Cameron knows exactly what she wants, and the nice way to get it.'

It is unlikely Cameron would have it any other way. Two years ago, her potential was highlighted in PRWeek's annual 29 under 29 feature. Since being headhunted from Hewlett-Packard (HP), she has been working 12-hour days at Samsung's Surrey headquarters, but any evidence of fatigue is hard to discern.

'It was slightly daunting, but I've got the hunger, enthusiasm and time,' she says. 'It's short-term pain for long-term gain. I'm willing to work very long hours.'

This attitude can be a little disconcerting, but there is no doubting Cameron's focus. There is the zeal of the new convert about her as she discusses Samsung's rapid growth and diverse range of products. 'The technology is there, but the brand needs to catch up,' she notes, before pointing out that its core youth market will one day grow up and consider buying Samsung washing machines and fridge freezers. 'I don't want to do a sales job on you,' she adds.

It is impossible not to warm to Cameron's palpable enthusiasm. 'She's just a bit more human,' says The Sunday Times media telecoms editor James Ashton, who worked extensively with Cameron during her HP career. 'Tech PROs too often get lost in the jargon, but Rachel is more outward looking. I think she's a big loss to HP.'

Cameron's breathless advocacy of all things Samsung should not be mistaken for puff. A barrage of questions about the brand's low-end reputation in the UK are met with intelligent responses about how this will be tackled. Even the potentially thorny issue of its country of origin elicits nothing more that a pause.

'It obviously has some influence and impact,' says Cameron of Samsung's heritage as a chaebol - a South Korean form of business conglomerate. 'But Samsung has proved itself as a global company.'

The electronics giant may still have some work to do to make the case to British consumers. Cameron's hire is part of an overhaul of Samsung's marketing operation in the UK.

'This is the right time to start building brand preference and awareness,' argues Cameron. 'We have to keep our base, but it's important we become the brand of choice.'

For Cameron, the task is as much about deciding what not to do. 'Being strategic, rather than a scattergun approach, is the biggest personal challenge,' she says. 'Having such a diverse range of products and a big budget, you have to be mindful you deliver the best PR.'

Cameron says her decision to move from Edinburgh to London was the pivotal moment in her career. After joining Railtrack one week before the Hatfield crash, she found her job rated the worst in the country. Any sense of adversity hardly hampered her subsequent rise, to BAA Edinburgh Airport - 'if you can work there, you can work anywhere' - and then to HP.

Mandate Scotland MD Craig Harrow, who first hired Cameron as a graduate trainee, says: 'She really does think on her feet and she's not scared to take some fairly big decisions. I saw something in her that was unique. She adapts very quickly and when she is given confidence she takes on a role and it becomes her own.'

Cameron admits she may have to temper her appetite for control. 'I need to get better at delegating, because I want to do everything,' she says.

With new agencies in place, and a new team being built, this should become easier. Yet the prospect of Cameron being completely hands-off is unlikely. Judging from the successful manner in which she has managed her career - and its attendant publicity - there is little risk that things will be allowed to drift.

'I just make the most of the opportunities I've been given,' she says. 'I'm ready. I've been ready for a while.'

 

RACHEL CAMERON'S TURNING POINTS

- What was your biggest career break?

Being recruited by HP gave me the opportunity to use a lot of the skills I had learned over the years and to be involved in some fantastic PR campaigns, such as the HP and National Gallery 'Grand Tour'.

- Have you had a notable mentor?

I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some incredibly talented people. However, my first boss, Craig Harrow, has been a source of support throughout my career. He has always believed in me and encouraged me to make the move from Edinburgh to London. In the same way that he has supported me throughout my career, he has encouraged me to pass on that support to others starting out in the PR industry.

- What advice would you give to anyone climbing the career ladder?

Work hard, stay motivated and never stop believing in yourself.

- What qualities do you prize in new recruits?

Enthusiasm, commitment and a genuine passion for communications.

 

CV

2009 Head of PR, Samsung UK

2006 Corporate comms manager, HP

2003 PR manager, BAA Edinburgh Airport

2001 Account manager, Harrison Cowley

2000 Press officer, Railtrack

1999 Trainee account executive, The PPS Group

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

Careers: Leadership - A route to the boardroom
Sponsored feature

Careers: Leadership - A route to the boardroom

Senior communicators now need the knowledge and ability to take on a more central corporate role.

Max Clifford trial jury retires to consider indecent assault charges

Max Clifford trial jury retires to consider indecent assault charges

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford has retired to consider verdicts on 11 charges of indecent assault after five weeks of proceedings.

Avoid being caught out on camera

Avoid being caught out on camera

Being caught on camera is a fact of life, so it is vital to ensure that organisations behave in the right way.