The long road from Bentley Motors to Greater Manchester Police

Vickie Custy is only 25 but her comms career has already taken her down a long road, from handling royalty and VIPs on behalf of Bentley Motors to a public sector job in the Greater Manchester Police press office. She tells PRWeek why she made the leap.

Vickie Custy has successfully made the leap from private to public sector comms at GMP
Vickie Custy has successfully made the leap from private to public sector comms at GMP

Custy’s early jobs were the stuff of young people everywhere who are studying: retail, followed by retail management.

But, says Custy, she still looks back at these early work experiences with fondness. She adds: "I feel they taught me vital communication skills."

Custy studied for a degree in business communications and, initially, thought about a career in sales and marketing.

But as her studies progressed, the lure of PR beckoned her into the industry.

She says: "I realised as soon as I joined a busy press office that this was the place for me."

Her PR and comms career began at Bentley Motors’ global headquarters in Crewe as the company’s royal and VIP relations coordinator - and its main point of contact with celebrities.

Among her tasks, was dealing with the personalisation requests of VIPs, the details of which are, sadly, under wraps, although she reveals that one celebrity wanted to match the car’s colour to that of the sequins on her favourite dress.

To be part of such an iconic brand was something I was, and still am, very proud of. It was a valuable and fascinating experience.

Vickie Custy, press officer at Greater Manchester Police

Custy says of her time there: "To be part of such an iconic brand was something I was, and still am, very proud of. It was a valuable and fascinating experience."

After two years with Bentley, Custy decided it was important to see comms from a public sector perspective in addition to her private sector experience and she spotted the perfect opportunity with a job as press officer for Greater Manchester Police.

Custy says: "The role of a police force was in itself an allure for me. I have always admired and respected the work carried out by the police and it may sound clichéd but I feel we contribute towards making a positive difference to the region every day."

She says the emphasis on social media as a news source means the police force has, to some extent, taken on the role of a de facto broadcaster with its accounts.

It soon became very clear that private and public sector communications have very different priorities. Time pressure is one of the main differences between the two.

Vickie Custy, press officer at Greater Manchester Police
Among her many responsibilities, Custy’s role at GMP is to support crime investigations by releasing information to the media and public, as well as managing media requests around victims of crime and their families. 

Two months into the job, Custy says: "The intensity of police communications is something I hadn’t experienced before. They deal with highly pressurised cases on a daily basis, where accuracy is vital." 

One of the main differences between private and public sector comms, for Custy, is time.

She says: "It soon became very clear that private and public sector communications have very different priorities. Time pressure is one of the main differences between the two as naturally in a police force, every second counts as you’re often reporting on live investigations. You can’t afford unnecessary delays and I think I thrive under this pressure."

Custy says that, although it has been hard at times to adjust from talking about luxury cars to crime, the GMP team has been supportive of her transition to public sector comms.

As for the future, Custy says she has been bitten by the public sector bug and cannot see herself leaving it any time soon.

She adds: "Looking ahead all I can say is that I am really enjoying my role so far and look forward to experiencing more as time goes by. I hope to remain in public sector communications as my career progresses."

And her current dream job?

"I would like to lead a police press office in the future," she concludes.


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