Name: Lequan Johnson
Company: The Red Consultancy
Job title: Account Executive
Did you go to university?
Yes, I studied Biomedical Sciences at Royal Holloway University of London. Science was my strongest subject at GCSE and was also the subject I found most interesting. I really enjoyed learning scientific theories and then being able to put them into practice in the laboratory. The Biomedical Science course structure at Royal Holloway involved a lot of time in the laboratory, which is why I choose it.
What was your first job in PR?
I was offered an internship following a 10 week PR traineeship with The Taylor Bennett Foundation, a charity which delivers a PR training programme designed to equip participants with relevant skills to work in the PR and corporate communications industry. Each programme is sponsored by a different PR or communications agency – mine was sponsored by The Red Consultancy who then offered me the internship and then a permanent healthcare PR role. I was thrilled!
I’m now also beginning to think about other peoples to do list and not solely focus on just ticking off actions from my own list.
How did you get from there to your current role?
I’m still at Red, just over two years on, and have climbed the career ladder a bit since then. I have moved on from the days I asked a million questions an hour, didn’t know how to use a photocopier/scanner, what the clipping tool was or how to tailor a pitch. My role in the team has adapted slightly, the above skills are still practiced daily but now I have to be able to answer as many questions as I can ask and attend to the needs of the client as well as my team. I’m now also beginning to think about other peoples to do list and not solely focus on just ticking off actions from my own list.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
There is no set routine for executives in a PR agency however, one thing that I have to do day-to-day is know what the client does (this is where the Biomedical Science degree comes in handy) and know what the media appetite is for what the client does.
What do you like most about working in PR?
The thing I like most about PR is the variety.
What’s the hardest thing about working in PR?
Similar to my favourite thing the hardest thing about PR for me, a person who has a million and one different interests, is not being able to work on everything.
I have been very fortunate to be part of some truly outstanding organisations
Who is your PR inspiration?
I have been very fortunate to be part of some truly outstanding organisations such as the Amos Bursary, The Mayor’s Fund for London, The Taylor Bennett Foundation, Editorial Intelligence and Comment Awards who have given me access to some truly inspirational people inside as well as away from PR. So, to avoid doing a Sir Lenny Henry, I’m not going to name them all.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given? Who gave it to you?
One of my mentors, Lord Mitchell, gave me a couple of pieces of advice in 2011 that were steep learning curves when I received them but now come second nature, I hope:
When writing anything ask yourself the question – so what?
When you receive an email like the one I sent you, you should reply immediately. You should say words to the effect – email received I will be getting back to you at the end of the week. Going into radio silence is not good. Keep the channel hot
Which PR blogs, news sites and websites do you read?
PRWeek UK Weekly Butlin, Brand Republic, The Wall and Campaign Daily Fix emails as well as follow the likes of Little Black Book and shots on social media.
What are your tips for aspiring PRs?
Sir Lenny Henry mentioned in his MOBO acceptance speech that he got to where he is today by standing on the shoulder of giants. So my top tip for aspirational PRs is to maintain, build and utilise your network of contacts.