PRWeek UK 30 Under 30: Sophie Williams, Kazoo Communications

We hear from Sophie Williams (29), account director, Kazoo Communications.

Straight-talking, agile, tenacious, curious and collaborative are some words used to describe this talented PR professional, who oversees £1.15m of business – including the agency's biggest account, Riot Games. Williams' multiple achievements include winning a £100,000 influencer brief from BT and launching its first influencer campaign, which helped increase intent to subscribe by 17 per cent; and bringing in an extra £23,000 of fees on Kia Motors by creating consumer research and grassroots activity for its Eco Car range.

Meet the PRWeek 30 Under 30 2020

Judge's comment: "Sophie has clearly made a big impact at her agency in a very short space of time, and it's great to see the broader outcomes that her work has brought about."

How does working in PR differ from your expectations?

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. My first foray into PR was packing Indian takeaway boxes with tea bags at the age of 17! For some, that would be a deterrent, but I thought it was the most bizarre thing I’d ever done and it had me hooked. The most surprising thing about working in PR is the immense passion and reward I feel after seeing an idea come to life. No matter how many concepts I see through, the feeling never goes away.

It’s also a much more diverse craft than I thought it was going to be, especially in recent years where the media landscape and the role of press office is continually evolving. PR covers everything from SEO, influencers and talent negotiations to event management, CSR and more.

Describe your experience of working in PR during the COVID-19 crisis.

The saying “diamonds are made under pressure” springs to mind. Despite longer hours, reduced teams and us all working remotely, we’ve unearthed the agility to think outside the box and rework campaigns to create something truly meaningful for our clients.

It’s also provided me with the opportunity to take on a larger role within the agency, expanding my position to all divisions of the business. I’ve taken on a greater role within the senior leadership team, focusing on client servicing, while also driving the new team dynamic to ensure the agency ethos and values aren’t forgotten.  

How (if at all) will the COVID-19 crisis change the PR industry?

It has rapidly spurred on the changes we were already seeing. As an industry, PR often prioritises big numbers – reach, OTS [opportunity to see], media value, etc – but with consumers demanding more authenticity during the pandemic, I think it will drastically change the way clients view success, opting for more meaningful measurement including engagement, intent to purchase and brand favourability.

What one thing above all would you change about the PR industry?

For years, more inclusivity and diversity has been demanded at every level within the PR industry – from those that sit on the board to the talent agencies/brands work with. The Black Lives Matter movement is having a tremendous impact across all industries at the moment, and personally, I am spearheading the D&I [diversity and inclusion] discussion within Kazoo. I’m working on a company-wide plan to change our internal policies regarding hiring, while also scrutinising our existing campaigns to ensure we’re working with a truly inclusive pool of talent with a mix of sexual orientations, ethnicity, skin colour, gender, body type, socioeconomic status, physical abilities and religious beliefs.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’d love to be the head of a department at Kazoo. I currently span both of our specialist divisions (tech, gaming & esports and food, drink & retail) but my passion really lies in homes and interiors and alcohol – in a purely professional manner!

Outside work, I’ve got a five-year ‘get a house’ plan, which comes with a puppy as standard.

How do you switch off from work?

Well, it’s never been my forté, I must admit! I do love cooking and whenever I follow a recipe, it really helps me to take my mind off work. If I ever find myself going over the day in my head, I’ll plug into a podcast or a good book. A glass of wine and debrief with the boyfriend always helps too!

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