PROFILE: Ellie Springett, head of corporate and public affairs, Energy Saving Trust

Every day, PRWeek receives countless emails from eager PROs detailing why they should be profiled. Most never make it, but Ellie Springett's pitch had an unusual level of energy.

Which is apt because for the past 18 months she has been head of corporate and public affairs at the Energy Saving Trust (EST) - perhaps one of the most topical roles in public sector PR today.

‘The job is to make the current interest in what we do count,' she says. ‘The EST has a reputation for independence, and we have to maintain our position as the media's first point of contact on energy issues, against encroachment from the private sector.'

It is a busy role, and Springett, who works three days a week, has created around her a ten-strong in-house PR team. She has even put in place a succession plan, for when she eventually leaves the trust - though she stresses she has no plans to do so in the near future.

Springett is certainly keen to ensure her staff are motivated. Every Friday they meet for drinks in order to celebrate an achievement from the previous five days. A celebration a week might seem excessive, but it demonstrates the importance that Springett places on team bonding.

Yet this is the same woman who told PRWeek prior to interview that ‘the in-house team is dead'.

She clarifies that she was bemoaning organisations' overuse of external support: ‘PR agencies are increasingly outsourced press offices - but this doesn't make any sense. Media relations is the crown jewels and I'm not about to give them away.'

She adds: ‘I want my team to be on the front line talking to the media. I can then pick the best agencies for specific project work.'

The elfin and garrulous Springett practises what she preaches. This week Blue Rubicon and Munro & Forster Communications were brought in to inject ‘more passion' into EST's comms after a four-month search (PRWeek, 24 November 2006). Both agencies will work solely on projects.

During her two days out of the office, 38-year-old Springett does not ‘fanny around', as she puts it. Her time is mostly spent looking after her young daughter, Lily, as well as indulging her love of movies, garnered from her days studying film and media at Bournemouth University.

Those salad days down on the south coast have never quite left her, and Springett has often pursued broadcast PR during her career.

Following an early stint at National Power (in the immediate wake of deregulation), Springett headed to Royal Mail, long before its disastrous rebranding as Consignia, a time she describes as ‘immense fun'.

‘Royal Mail was something to be proud of back then,' she recalls. ‘But I wanted to experience agency PR.'

Springett moved to icas PR (now Publicasity), before helping to set up a broadcast bureau at Bulletin International. Her next role, a six-year stint at Text 100/August.One Communications, also involved the creation of a broadcast office - which bought it a place on the COI roster. Springett says her subsequent move into the public sector was prompted by a desire to work part-time after the birth of her daughter.

‘I'm not an energy saving evangelist though,' she adds. ‘I don't think that I - nor my team - should be. If I knew every scientific thing there is to know about energy saving then I would be detached from EST's audience.'

But surely she uses energy-saving lightbulbs at home?

‘And double glazing. And cavity wall installation,' she says, half-mockingly. ‘Hey, we could come around to your house and find out where you can make energy savings if you like.'

Then, slightly more seriously: ‘You don't own your house? That's OK, if you can persuade your landlord to make changes you could skim £300 off your energy bills. How does that sound?'

Springett is, it turns out, as evangelistic as any passionate PR professional.

CV - Ellie Springett

Head of corporate and public affairs, Energy Saving Trust

Consultancy director, August.One Communications

Broadcast consultant, Bulletin International

Account director, icas PR

External comms manager, Royal Mail

Comms executive, National Power

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