Name: Rebecca Davidson-Olley
Company: HM Government, The Ministry of Justice
Job title: Campaigns and Strategic Communications Officer
Did you go to university?
I studied Public Relations at The University of Westminster. In my second year I completed a semester at The University of Technology in Sydney as part of a study abroad programme. It was an absolutely fantastic experience, I would absolutely encourage anyone who has the opportunity to study abroad to grab it with both hands. I learned a lot about myself and made some friends for life. While I was there I interned at a PR Agency called Two Birds Talking, which was lots of fun. It really opened my eyes to the world of agency PR.
What was your first job in PR?
I was lucky enough to secure my job at The Ministry straight after I graduated. I applied through the Government Communication Service and went through a number of stages before being accepted. It was a very proud moment when I was offered my job here. Before I started, my internship at Two Birds Talking was my only real experience of a professional PR role.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
My role mainly consists of planning, developing and delivering public awareness campaigns. This includes objective setting, gathering insight, identifying target audiences and working with my team to develop a media strategy as well as a campaign brand. I also have to brief the media on upcoming campaigns which is always very exciting. In addition to this, I often have to meet with Ministers to ensure they are fully briefed on campaigns that fall within the areas, and suggest ways for them to get involved in campaign activity. I also get work very closely with evaluation specialists to measure the success of our campaigns, which I really do enjoy.
I really enjoy working with stakeholders and that is a huge part of my role
What do you like most about working in PR?
I love people and my job allows be to communicate with so many different people every day. I really enjoy working with stakeholders and that is a huge part of my role. I love working in government communications because it’s very fast paced. And there are so many elements to my role, I am always learning something new.
What’s the hardest thing about working in PR?
Quite often, you are faced with a completely new situation or challenge and have to think on your feet. Like I said, Government communications is so fast paced and you have to be prepared for anything. Things can happen that can completely throw you off balance and you have to be able to keep calm and deal with it the best way you can.
Passion just pours out of her.
Who is your PR inspiration?
I’m a big fan of Gabriela Lungu. I met her when she was chief creative officer at Weber Shandwick and found her exhilarating. When I left that day, I was 100% sure I wanted to work in PR. Passion just pours out of her.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
Before my old boss left MoJ, she told me to “identify your weaknesses and work as hard as possible until they become your strengths”. That has really stuck with me. I think in this day and age it’s really important for PR and communications professionals to be strong all-rounders and not pigeon hole themselves.
Which PR blogs, news sites and websites do you read?
I start the day with the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 and usually check BBC News several times a day just to make sure I am up to date with the latest headlines. Websites like Huffington Post and Buzzfeed are always great to explore as they often deal with topical issues. Working in Government Communications, I’m exposed to a range of different blogs from senior members of the civil service. These are always an interesting read. If you are interested in working in government communication here in the UK, I recommend that you follow Alex Aiken, Executive Director of Government Communications, on Twitter. He always has something new and interesting to bring to the table and is a very passionate about his role. I find him inspiring. I also enjoy reading PR Moment, and like to keep up to date with PR Week.
face things that scare you
What are your tips for aspiring PRs?
Challenge yourself. Delve into the unknown and face things that scare you. Never in a million years did I think I would land a job in a central government department straight after graduating; but I went for it and got the job. What you think you can achieve and what you can actually achieve are two completely different things. Don’t be afraid to think big.