'If that tenacity isn’t a metaphor for working in PR, I don’t know what is' - What Inspires Me with Kelly Marshall-Hill

The Tonic Communications co-founder Kelly Marshall-Hill reveals what drives her creativity.

Soft play

Ok, undisputed hell on earth for some, but the lifeblood of soft play is nurturing children’s natural curiosity, boundless energy, and their willingness to fail. Sure, they might fall headfirst down the bumpy ladder and get smacked in the face by the flailing knee of another kid, but they usually get back up and just keep going. If that kind of tenacity isn’t a metaphor for working in PR, I don’t know what is.

‘Why is soft play called soft play?’

My daughter turns three shortly and it’s fascinating to see how she is starting to interpret the world around her. Burning questions such as ‘Why is the sky blue?’ and ‘Why do spiders eat flies?’ occupy her mind. And I think it’s far too easy to lose that. In our agency we talk a lot about interrogating ourselves and our clients; pinning down the ‘why are we doing this?’ is such an important discipline.



I was taught in my youth that to be a decent writer, you need to devour prose. Moving on from teen reads by Judy Blume, my bookworm tendencies now lean more to professional development, and that’s really helped shape what my co-founder and I want our agency to be and the lives we want to lead as business owners. A new book ‘Grow, Build, Sell, Live’ (Richard Houghton & Crispin Manners) spoke to our soul as agency founders, and ‘Enough? How Much Money Do You Need for the Rest of Your Life?’ is also a great read.

Doing the right thing

It’s truly inspiring to witness a sea change in companies and brands demonstrating a social conscious (take a bow Astriid and Medichecks). It’s something we’ve internally been banging the drum about for a while, and now we’re putting our money where our mouth is and working exclusively with ethical companies that are making a positive difference to the world we live in.


For a client project, we recently looked at what life experiences have had the most impact – both positive and negative - on our wellbeing. And for positive, travel was consistently top of the list. Aside from a minor hostage situation in Vietnam, I definitely agree. Bookending a four year stint working in PR in Sydney, I volunteered at an orphanage in Cambodia, studied at Spanish school in South America, was robbed in Brazil and worked in a hostel in Cusco. Travel is a bit closer to home nowadays – the Peak District on a weekend, and trips to new places in Europe this year. Recommendations for Seville, Florence and Bergerac gratefully received…


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