PRWeek UK 30 Under 30: Niamh Griffin, WE Communications

We hear from Niamh Griffin (29), account director, WE Communications.

WE says Griffin has been instrumental in the growth of the agency's UK health business, which expanded by 25 per cent in 2019, and describes her as a leader among peers, a mentor to junior colleagues – and a future sector head. Her impact transcends the health team, though; WE praised Griffin's work on agency-wide activities, including the new business taskforce.

Meet the PRWeek 30 Under 30 2020

Judge's comment: "Niamh is clearly doing some great work and is valued by clients and colleagues alike. Some very strong testimonials from her clients make her a contender."

How does working in PR differ from your expectations?

When starting out in PR, I never realised the variety of activities outside of traditional media work. Audience expectations are constantly growing and evolving and, as PR practitioners, we are having to challenge ourselves and learn new skills to meet these needs. In the past few years, the work I’ve done has been focused on understanding the true needs of patients and communities through social listening, behaviour-change theories and messaging strategies, to ensure our work has a much more lasting impact than column inches or 'likes' on Twitter. As technology and innovative strategies advance, this is only going to further the scope of what is considered PR, and how storytelling can be disseminated in different ways.

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

Working during the COVID-19 crisis has certainly had its ups and downs! Every week can bring a new challenge and I think a lot of people working in PR are guilty of having lunch at their desks or a ‘just one more thing’ attitude to finishing the day. Working from home has really made me more aware of balancing out my days. I’m certainly missing the liveliness of a busy office, but I’m lucky to live with my partner, who works in the same industry – so it’s great to have someone around to bounce ideas off or have a makeshift ‘pub’ drink at the end of a week.

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

The industry has always been quite flexible in terms of working arrangements, but this crisis has really shown how agile and productive remote working can be. It has forced us to take the time to make sure we’re communicating properly with clients and colleagues through Teams, Zoom or Slack, but also recognise that our roles are really adaptable. I think we will see agencies – especially those around London – moving to more flexible set-ups, which will create opportunities for getting the right people, in the right roles, regardless of where they are based.

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

Move on from prioritising traditional media. Our strategies need to be integrated and have a measurable impact on the end audience. Campaigns like ‘Immortal Fans’ for Sport Club Recife, or the Palau Pledge, have made a long-lasting change [for] the communities they are aimed at supporting. It’s our role and responsibility to demonstrate to clients how much more can be done to amplify narratives and create impactful strategies.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I would like to be leading an agency that is focused on creating meaningful, strategic programmes that can contribute to furthering the understanding of current conditions, but is also focused on helping patients have an improved quality of life. It’s more important than ever to recognise how many patients are actively living with chronic and rare diseases, and to celebrate and champion them.

How do you switch off from work?

I’d love to have some wildly interesting hobby to share – but most of the time, you can find me with a Kindle in my hands, cooking unnecessary amounts of food due to my inability to measure out portions, or bingeing the latest crime series on Netflix.

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