'Don’t make creatives do dual roles with account teams' – Creative Q&A with Ottilie Ratcliffe, Milk & Honey PR

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 Ottilie Ratcliffe, global creative director at Milk & Honey PR.

Ottilie Ratcliffe: 'There are more spaces and opportunities for junior creatives than ever, but there’s more to do'
Ottilie Ratcliffe: 'There are more spaces and opportunities for junior creatives than ever, but there’s more to do'

How did you get where you are now?

I’ve had a meandering career path so far – I started out in publishing PR, then briefly specialised in social media, worked my way up to account director and then side-stepped to a full-time creative role. Spending six years at a pretty mega creative agency gave me a load of great experience and a portfolio of work, and ultimately set me up for my most recent move to Milk & Honey as the global creative director, which I’m enjoying a lot as it’s a B Corp that’s focused on purpose-led work. I’m also now chair of the PRCA Creative Group, where I like to bang the drum for junior creatives because I wish there had been someone doing that for me eight to 10 years ago.

What's been your creative career highlight?

Writing is my real passion, so penning a children’s book for a baby food brand was a huge highlight; then ghostwriting a series of short stories to launch a car brand was another. Luckily, being a creative is full of writing jobs, so whether it’s a script for a ballet or rewriting Shakespeare for a modern audience, there’s always something there to scratch that itch. So I can continue not writing an actual book like I’ve always planned…

...and lowlight?

We don’t talk enough about the lowlights. We’re very good at PR-ing ourselves (naturally), so I love this question. The most excruciating moment in PR so far for me came very early on when I’d meticulously planned a breakfast event for media and not a single journalist showed up. It was the embodiment of that fear of no one coming to your birthday party, except that I’d spent a lot of the client’s money on the party rather than my own. The memory of standing on the door with a clipboard 45 minutes into an empty event still fills me with horror.

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

Absolutely loved the campaign by Cow for World Animal Protection where they made Factory Farm playsets. I think juxtaposing our bucolic childhood ideal of a farmyard with the harsh, industrial reality is really smart. And the horror of introducing that reality to children throws it into even sharper relief.

How do you solve creative writer's block?

Make someone not in PR talk to you about it. The number of date nights I’ve turned into brainstorms… you just need to get your head out of the industry and stop thinking about the award entry, and instead, speak to a real person who’ll tell you when something’s pretentious rather than just a good idea that will appeal to a mainstream audience.

How should PR grow its creative prowess?

Hire creative talent. There are more spaces and opportunities for junior creatives than ever, but there’s more to do. Don’t make creatives do dual roles with account teams – give them the space to think and create and specialise, and even though they aren’t billable yet, they’ll deliver on the bottom line through new revenue in the long term.

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