PRWeek UK 30 Under 30: Emma Divers, PLMR

We hear from Emma Divers (28), Scotland manager, PLMR.

Divers' stellar rise at PLMR – from intern to Scotland manager in less than two years – has seen her become a trusted advisor to the boards of some of the agency's biggest clients. Recent highlights include launching the first 'social supermarket' to redistribute surplus food in Scotland; devising the comms strategy for a national mental-health care provider embroiled in an inquest into the death of a service user; and securing thought-leadership-orientated national broadcast (Sky News, BBC, ITV) media coverage on multiple occasions for multiple stories for a small regional care provider.

Meet the PRWeek 30 Under 30 2020

Judge's comment: "Her comunications expertise isn't just about media coverage – you can clearly see the outcomes that her work has achieved. Definitely a rising star in the sector."

How does working in PR differ from your expectations?

Before entering PR, my only exposure was Absolutely Fabulous’ “PR, darling.” Thankfully, everything is different from those expectations!

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

I look after some big social care clients, so it’s fair to say this has been a challenging and busy time – although clearly nothing compared to the challenges faced by the health and care workers at the front line of this crisis.

While this has been one of the busiest and most emotionally draining parts of my career, it has also taught me the most. Truthful, clear and empathetic communication is key to handling any crisis, but in this kind of situation it really hits home that a badly worded speech, letter or statement can have real and dangerous results. Comms is one of the most important parts of good crisis management.

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

I don’t think it will change the day to day work we do, but I do hope all the working from home, Zoom conference calls and flexible working arrangements will continue and we’ll see a better work-life balance as a result.

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

We still have a long way to go to make the industry more representative of the society we live in. Not just in terms of getting more women into leadership positions, which will hopefully be helped by the move towards more flexible working, but also increasing the number of people from LGBT+ and BAME communities, as well as people from different academic and economic backgrounds.

I’d like to see a real effort in bringing in more apprentices, school-leavers and, generally, people who don’t necessarily fit the usual university degree mould. People have real talent, but if we don’t offer them the opportunities we aren’t just denying them the chance to enter a great career, we’re also missing out on people who think differently and actually represent the audience groups we’re trying to reach.

In introducing schemes like this, we also have to pay them a living wage. No more unpaid internships. I know I would have never been able to take up my internship at PLMR if they hadn’t offered that kind of pay right at the beginning of my career.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I try not to think that far ahead. As long as I’m still learning and enjoying what I do, I see value in staying where I am. As soon as that changes, I’ll seek out the next challenge.

How do you switch off from work?

A good glass of wine and some 90s tunes.

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