PRWeek UK 30 Under 30: Matt Mckenna,

We hear from Matt Mckenna (28), head of communications (UK),

The first in-house comms employee at the global comparison website, Mckenna has delivered excellent results. Average monthly coverage pieces grew from 22 to 218 since he joined the business, with monthly coverage views up from 689,000 to 4.2m. Overhauling the site's content marketing output and co-leading the UK brand guidelines creation are among his other achievements.

Meet the PRWeek 30 Under 30 2020

Judge's comment: "It was great to see an in-house nomination where someone has had so much of an impact on the business. It sounds like Matt has a great career ahead of him and is one to watch."

How does working in PR differ from your expectations?

I found it to be a much more varied role than I expected when starting out. Someone working in PR needs to simultaneously be a writer, a data analyst, a sales person, a consultant, a creative and an industry expert, often across multiple sectors.

The understanding that communications professionals have of the public and media landscape, combined with the knowledge we need to have about the business, means we are well-placed to consult on a range of areas outside of traditional PR.

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

A fast-moving industry has had to find even more gears. Lockdown rules and financial regulations are changing on a near daily basis at the moment, so we have had to become quicker and more efficient in order to stay on top of developments.

Trying to tap into the mood of the nation in such unprecedented and scary times isn't an easy task, but I have found the disruption of the usual news agenda to be something that has inspired innovation within our team.

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

Every PR professional will tell you how hard it has been to get coverage over the past few months, yet there has also been a surge of people taking an interest in personal finance and consumer advice – many for the first time.

This shows that there is still a real need for PR to bring sector expertise to the public, but only the most insightful and useful research is making the cut. I think this demand for quality and relevance will raise standards across the industry.

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

I want to see more authentic communication about societal issues from large corporations.

Social media is an incredible tool to help people raise awareness and bring about change, but the way some companies have tried to join these conversations recently has not been helpful.

If a company is making a significant and genuine effort to bring about change, then I want to hear from them. If a company just shares a template response or appears to be virtue signalling, then I would rather not hear from them at all.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Growing a PR team from scratch and joining the senior leadership team in the UK has been an absorbing challenge, and I'd love to experience doing it across multiple countries in Europe as expands.

I have spoken very mediocre Spanish for the past 10 years, so perhaps this would be the push I need to finally become fluent.

How do you switch off from work?

I try to play as much sport as possible and always have a good TV series or book on the go. Playing piano is also a great way to switch off.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in