Name: Rachel Miller
Company: All Things IC
Job title: Founder
Did you go to university?
No, I was due to study English and Drama at university. I deferred my place for a year to do work experience at various newspapers and magazines.
During my first placement at a newspaper they offered me a job and I accepted. Nearly 10 years later I studied for a post-graduate diploma in Internal Communications Management with Kingston University, so finally got my cap and gown picture!
What was your first job in PR?
I was a journalist on the Romford Recorder newspaper in Essex (part of the Archant group). I joined in 1999, a week before my 19th birthday and loved it.
I asked to be trained, and was the first journalist from my paper go on a four-month residential course in Hastings, where I achieved my Journalism Diploma and shorthand qualifications.
The skills I developed over the next few years as I worked my way up from trainee to a Senior Journalist shaped my career. It was the days before search engines were widespread, so I spent hours talking with contacts, faxing(!), researching in the library and networking in my news patch.
From front page stories interviewing the families of murder victims, to skydiving to raise money for a local charity, it was a great place to learn.
I’ve facilitated focus groups with tiger keepers at London Zoo
How did you get from there to your current role?
By being open to new ideas and taking opportunities as they’ve arisen over the past 17 years.
In 2003 I discovered the world of corporate communication. I worked in-house for a decade for companies including Visa, Novartis and Visteon, and as Head of Communications for London Overground Rail Operations Ltd. I also worked agency-side running internal communication accounts for L’Oréal, GSK and Sky.
I started blogging about internal communication, social media and PR in 2009 while working in-house.
After the birth of my daughter I decided turn my dream of running my own consultancy into reality and founded All Things IC in 2013.
Over the past three years, 21 companies have hired me to help them achieve communication excellence.
My clients are diverse, which keeps me on my toes and is the main reason I enjoy the world of comms so much.
I’ve facilitated focus groups with tiger keepers at London Zoo, taught Board members how to Tweet, advised businesses through major change and offered senior level counsel to communicators.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
It’s a clichéd phrase, but no two days are the same, which is why running my own business invigorates and inspires me.
For example, this week I’ve been auditing a company’s internal communication and recommending ways for them to improve, plus speaking about knowledge management at a Masters in Internal Communication course.
I’ve also been researching the role of social business for a client, briefing designers and developing a series of one-day All Things IC Masterclass training courses.
There’s always something to do on my blog, so I’m frequently planning, writing and publishing articles.
Communication professionals are inherently good at spotting opportunities to network and are generous with their time, spirit and advice.
What do you like most about working in PR?
Definitely the people. Communication professionals are inherently good at spotting opportunities to network and are generous with their time, spirit and advice.
I meet new people every week as communication teams hire me to work alongside them. I love hearing their inside stories and consider it a privilege to have exposure to the inner workings of organisations.
What’s the hardest thing about working in PR?
The hardest thing is being strict with my time. There are only so many hours in the day and I constantly prioritise and re-prioritise to get everything done. Your whole day can change through one email or crisis phone call from a client, and all plans go out of the window. But I wouldn’t want it any other way!
I have a three-year-old daughter and one-year-old twin sons, so like many working parents I try to keep a healthy balance to ensure I am where I need to be when I need to be.
You need courage and an entrepreneurial spirit to thrive in the world of PR and Communication.
Who is your PR inspiration?
I recently read Richard Branson’s book The Virgin Way and found it inspirational for many reasons. Not least his ability to listen. He’s a natural connector and innovator and I’m inspired by his desire to fail as often as he succeeds.
You need courage and an entrepreneurial spirit to thrive in the world of PR and Communication. I learnt a lot from his book and found myself nodding throughout.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
The best career advice I’ve ever been given is to listen to my gut feel and have faith in it. My husband Jon said it to me when I was launching my consultancy and making career decisions.
I’ve honed my ability to trust my instinct and take calculated risks, but every so often need reminding, particularly when trying new things.
Which PR blogs, news sites and websites do you read?
So many! I’m constantly updating my blogroll. I’m enjoying discovering new voices via LinkedIn and seeing communicators experiment with it.
You need to be searchable and get your “digital footprint” started.
What are your tips for aspiring PRs?
I have three tips:
1) Be visible
You need to be searchable and get your “digital footprint” started. I thoroughly recommend blogging as a way to work out loud – narrating your work has the potential to build a community. Join Twitter chats, comment in LinkedIn groups, offer to guest blog and never stop asking questions.
2) Take time to invest in your career
Sign up for CPD (continuous professional development) schemes and set yourself targets to keep learning. I’m a Fellow of the Institute of Internal Communication and Chartered Institute of Public Relations and can see tangible results for my clients as I continue to improve and learn.
3) Build your own path
Your career is what you make it. No one is forcing you to work in a particular field. Be open to experimenting and remember to thank those who help you along the way. It’s a small world, so don’t burn bridges and don’t underestimate the power of simple gestures like handwritten notes. Most importantly, enjoy it!