'Switch off from your norm and jump start your brain' - Creative Q&A

PRWeek grills creative comms figures on how they got where they are, their career highlight, solving creative writer's block, and more. Today we speak to Louisa Ham, managing director at Stellar Public Relations.

'Switch off from your norm and jump start your brain' - Creative Q&A

How did you get where you are now?

My first ever job was on a Saturday, writing the football scores up on a white board for the presenters to read out on Manchester Radio Station Key 103. My handwriting was so bad that the presenters kept reading out the wrong scores. My writing is still awful to this day!

I've spent the majority of my career working at Golin. I was extremely fortunate to work with some incredible talent on some big ideas. It was there that I learnt how to hone my creativity.

I have always approached things slightly differently, so it was a natural fit to start something from scratch and use that big-agency knowledge pinned with independent thinking and agility as something that could work well. I’m lucky to still be working with a talented team bursting with energy and ideas.

What's been your creative career highlight?

I’ve had so many career highs, but my first big win at Stellar PR was pretty special. Another memorable moment was leading the press conference, in partnership with DEFRA, to celebrate PGI Status for H. Forman & Son’s London Cure smoked salmon. Coverage was achieved across the key national and international press, but the highlight for me was a testimonial from the now-Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, congratulating us all on the work we had done – and sharing his love for smoked salmon.

...and lowlight?

My other career high – but also a low, as it turned out – was the launch of the Montezuma’s recycling shop. Created to launch the new 100 per cent sustainable packaging across its entire range, chocolate brand Montezuma’s Waste Not Want Not Recyclable Shop had a simple message: by choosing Montezuma’s, with its eco-friendly packaging, you’re helping the environment just by eating chocolate! Customers visited the shop and swapped their lunch packaging for the eco-packaged chocolate bar.

The low? The campaign launched two days before the first national lockdown was announced in March 2020, and we had to close the shop after 12 hours. The campaign did, however, deliver solid results, and contributed to a 25 per cent increase in Montezuma’s online transactions.

What's your favourite campaign of the past three months (not one that you or your organisation were involved in), and why?

My favourite campaign is from a little stationery shop on Exmouth Market in London called Marby & Elm. Its ‘Covid Correspondence’ letter paper was one of my favourites during lockdown. People have been anonymously sharing their lockdown secrets on postcards as part of an arts project launched by the founder. The concept was simple: on request, the shop sends you a blank postcard “for you to unburden yourself of your lockdown secret”.

They sent out thousands of postcards, which were returned with secrets ranging from the oh-so-relatable to the fantastically eyebrow-raising. It’s hilariously brilliant and I really wish I had thought of it.

How do you solve creative writer's block?

By knocking it out of me! Last year I stupidly agreed to swim the Channel, so I’ve been spending time submerging myself in freezing cold water. Once you jump in, you soon forget the blockers. Just find a way to switch off from your norm and jump start your brain back into place.

How should PR grow its creative prowess?

By being brave enough to know the right idea can come from anyone or anywhere. It’s the role of PR to bring the idea to reality while engaging the right people with that crucial right message. Not many professions can do this, and we should be proud of that.

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