PRWeek UK 30 Under 30: Misha Talheth-Fell, Porter Novelli

We hear from Misha Talheth-Fell (28), senior account director, Porter Novelli.

Talheth-Fell is intuitive and insightful in equal measure, his employer says, with both creative instinct and commercial acumen – a rare combination that has helped propel him up the agency ranks since he joined as an intern. His impressive achievements include growing the Merck account to the top 50 across the global agency, and helping increase tech start-up Doctorlink's share of voice from sixth to second in its class.

Meet the PRWeek 30 Under 30 2020

Judge's comment: "I was really impressed with all that Misha has achieved. In particular, the tangible shift in share of voice for Doctorlink shows how much of an impact comms can have on businesses' outcomes, not just securing media coverage."

How does working in PR differ from your expectations?

People skills are a much bigger part of my job than I imagined. Managing a team, working with big personalities, and sometimes dealing with conflicts are a huge part of my job description and, while sometimes frustrating, can be tremendously rewarding. Building strong relationships with clients is critical, so these qualities are highly valued, promoted and nurtured throughout my agency.

Of course, an effective executive also needs to be proficient in the ‘technical’ side of the job, being able to deliver a quality service to clients or colleagues. Doing so builds trust and makes all of the people skills stuff a bit easier. I have learnt that you need to work on both sides of your game to succeed.

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

I am privileged to have been in a relatively stable position throughout the pandemic. The majority in our industry have been able to work from the safety and comfort of our homes, which isn’t the case for a great many. In healthcare PR, many of our clients are collaborating with governments to address the coronavirus situation and developing therapies against it, which in turn has led to a demand for communications expertise.

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

The events of 2020 have changed the world – of course I’m talking about the coronavirus, but also, hopefully, what could transpire in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. It feels like we went to bed on one side of history and are now beginning to wake up on the other.

Without conflating these issues, it’s time for companies to step up and make a positive impact on society, not just through words but with actions. We’ve seen some great examples of this since the pandemic began, as well as a fair share of bad ones (see here and here). It’s actually quite exciting to be guiding businesses through such tumultuous times.

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

As someone who isn’t from London, I would love to see a fairer distribution of agencies and talent across the country. For many who want to start a career in PR, they don’t have much of a choice other than to sidle down to the capital. As much as I enjoy living in the cultural epicentre, it isn’t for everyone, and it was hard for me to adjust in the beginning.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I would like to start my own business one day. It’s more of a long-term dream than a target for the next five years, but it’s an ambition I’ve held since I started in PR.

How do you switch off from work?

I tend to do this through exercise and sports. When I’m on a football pitch, the daily minutiae and stresses of work fade away, which is quite blissful. I’m also big Chelsea fan and can’t wait for this postponed season to reach its conclusion.

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