PRWeek UK 30 Under 30: Thomas Anelay, Grayling

We hear from Thomas Anelay (29), associate director, Grayling.

Anelay has the challenging role of leading the UK work of Grayling's Brexit Unit – and what a role it has been, guiding clients through public inquiries, government reviews, court cases, dozens of select committee hearings, investigations by Dispatches and Horizon, factory closures and redundancies. The 29-year-old formerly worked for Dame Eleanor Laing MP and rose from account manager to associate director at Grayling in just three years.

Meet the PRWeek 30 Under 30 2020

Judge's comment: "Tom clearly has broad expertise and delivers impactful results for clients. Adept at dealing with sensitive issues, he manages to navigate extremely difficult territory with success."

How does working in PR differ from your expectations?

It’s more of a team sport than I thought it would be, but the different views and experiences of our team help deliver more creative and effective solutions to our clients’ problems.

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

It’s been busy! For almost every business, integrated communications has rightly become a business-critical function. The importance of internal communications and having good relationships with government have been particularly evident.

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

I generally take the view that shock events only accelerate or decelerate existing trends, but if you pushed me, I’d make two predictions. First, we’ll see increased use of scenario planning so organisations are better prepared for risk. Second, CSR and ESG communications will be more vital than ever as we deal with the almost inevitable fallout and blame game.

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

I don’t think we’re confident enough in championing the importance of reputation to organisations or the expertise we bring as an industry.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

My boss’ job looks OK.

How do you switch off from work?

Watching rugby (either code) in a pub.

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