Name: Ked Mather
Company: MWWPR UK
Job title: Senior Account Director
Did you go to university?
I studied at Nottingham Trent University from 2003 – 2006 and completed a BA honours in English and Psychology. The degree included a range of modules to choose from including creative writing, sociology and media production but what was most pertinent, given my chosen career path, is that there was no public relations module.
What was your first job in PR?
My first job was working as an intern within the consumer department of Burson-Marsteller. It involved a variety of tasks, some, more glamourous than others. The top-end including drafting press releases, new business research and selling-in to media. The bottom-end however saw me pack 600 envelopes to be addressed and sent to MP’s and inflating Christmas decorations for the office!
When it comes to a career in PR, the first rung on the ladder is always the hardest
How did you get from there to your current role?
Through a targeted job search to begin with. My internship at Burson-Martsteller lasted six months but when I went back out into the job market I found that an Account Executive role was probably just out my grasp as competing candidates had 1 year+ experience. This meant that a graduate programme at a large agency was probably more realistic and so by targeting these roles it narrowed my search and allowed me to focus on the quality of applications I drafted as opposed to quantity. I received a place on The Red Consultancy graduate programme and once I was bedded in, working on big name brands and rising from Executive to Account Manager, I never looked back and secured in-house roles at Samsung and MasterCard before coming back to agency life with MWWPR UK.
When it comes to a career in PR, the first rung on the ladder is always the hardest but once you have a footing, and land that first job, the next rungs are a lot easier to take as you acquire crucial experience which employees will desire.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Here at MWWPR UK, the day really can differ from day-to-day. One day could be spent working on new business presentations, where another could be a NUMBER of client meetings, providing counsel on their communication strategies and tactics. The mix and variety of work keeps me very interested in public relations and the fluid nature of the way our team works here in London means we all work on different projects and tasks throughout the week, and avoid working in silos.
I am happiest when working and collaborating with others
What do you like most about working in PR?
Working with people. Whether it is colleagues, media, clients, trade bodies etc. PR lends itself to communicating and being in the presence of others on a regular basis. I am happiest when working and collaborating with others and most roles in PR will allow you to do this.
I also love being part of an agency that appreciates diversity too. We are hoping to set up a session in partnership with the Taylor Bennett Foundation to attract more BAME candidates to MWWPR UK. It is this type of partnership which makes our job here even more rewarding.
What’s the hardest thing about working in PR?
The hardest thing (but also one of the more interesting things) is the constant need to learn. As the world continues to moves towards digital communication, it is imperative, as a PR, to experience and understand the latest technology which allows us to communicate with one another digitally. It will be these technologies/services (e.g. snapchat) which will pave the way forward for a new era of communications. The chances are, that those reading this Q&A will be more up to speed than they think and can be experts in digital communications in their own right, so long as they have the hunger to continue learning and understand the new tools they have at their disposal to communicate.
Who is your PR inspiration?
All my colleagues inspire me. We always look at ways for clients to realise that through the campaigns we work on, we make clients matter more to the people that matter to them. We all have this end-goal in mind, and that inspires me to do the very best for our clients on a daily basis.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
A director at The Red Consultancy once told me to “never burn bridges with people in PR. Even if you might not get on with them on a personal level, act professional when working together and maintain a good working relationship. You never know when you might need them again or when they might need you.”
Which PR blogs, news sites and websites do you read?
I read a variety but some of the major sites include: TechRadar which is great for understand new forms of technology and providing comprehensive product reviews. PR vertical sites such as PRWeek.com and PR moment also interest me where I can understand and learn from like-minded individuals in the industry. I also really enjoy CITY A.M. which is a great newspaper, championing London, it people and its businesses. This is something I feel passionate about as London has been my place of residence for many years and their editorial team are very collaborative with PR folk.
Academic quality does not matter in PR as much as having common-sense, a willingness to work hard and enthusiasm for the industry
What are your tips for aspiring PRs?
Academic quality does not matter in PR as much as having common-sense, a willingness to work hard and enthusiasm for the industry. It is these traits which got me where I am today, not a PR degree.
Always be willing to learn in whatever PR role you take. You can never stop learning in the industry and it will be those around you (not just peers, but senior and even junior staff) who you may well learn from.