Name: Whitney Brown
Company: DiversityInCare Ltd
Job title: Communications & Development Manager
Did you go to university?
I went to London Metropolitan University; studying Events Management and Public Relations. Although my major was Events Management I was very passionate about Public Relations and determined to enter into the industry.
It was during my final year, where I met an exchange student from the University of Martin in Tennessee. Through him I was introduced to the Communications Professor of the university, who was looking for British students to study abroad. However, as I had already completed my degree and wasn’t eligible, I decided to pay for my flight and accommodation, to carry out a bespoke two month unpaid internship at the University of Martin.
It was a fantastic opportunity, exposing me to a variety of disciplines and it was whilst I in the USA, that stumbled upon a tweet from the Taylor Bennet Foundation, seeking Trainees; this was my official entrance into my public relations career.
What was your first job in PR?
An internship John Doe Communications. Surprisingly I don’t remember how I found the role, but I do remember contacting the agency a few months prior, after I wrote a blog post about their media campaign launching the limited edition ‘Bloody London’ ABSOLUT Vodka bottle. I had an interview and start a few days later.
While at John Doe I quickly learnt the basics
How did you get from there to your current role?
I was quickly promoted to Assistant Account Executive; I had learnt so much due to being thrown in the deep end from my very first day, which was a blessing. While at John Doe I quickly learnt the basics, especially around media relations. This foundation enabled me to secure my role at DiversityInCare. I was officially hired after creating their first awareness campaign ‘UNSPOKEN’. It was based on the success of the campaign video, I produced, where my career in charity communications began.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Every day is different but my objective is always the same; to raise awareness of the charitable work DiversityInCare does.
My day always starts with checking for new stories, content ideas and media mentions. Then once I get into the office I respond to emails. I check to see if all social media is scheduled and set to go out as planned, then schedule any news stories I may have pick from the mornings browse. Then it’s off to do whatever needs to be done for that day.
One day I may be typing a strategy or project proposal; the next I may be creating a welcome pack for a new resident which will also involve a quick Q&A, to either add to the website or on social media.
It may be having a meeting with the CEO to prepare speeches or presentations for any visits or talks she may be doing or spending the day taking pictures or filming of the resident. I am always finding new and engaging ways to promote the work DiversityInCare does and their residents’ progress.
Working for a charity which supports ex-offenders and people with addictions can be very challenging
What do you like most about working in PR?
The creativity. Working for a charity which supports ex-offenders and people with addictions can be very challenging, because of the stigma attached. But the beauty of PR is once you grab one person’s attention and they like what they see they then spread the word.
What’s the hardest thing about working in PR?
The pressure. I don’t know any PR that doesn’t have a little cry due to the pressure of having to get results. Increasing the number of people who talk about your brand, how many mentions you get in a publication or retweets on social media. It all equals to pressure.
Who is your PR inspiration?
I have two; my good friend Lehka Mohanlal she is so passionate about her craft and she is a fantastic publicist. She was born to be a publicist; she has the personality and drive for the industry. My second person, although they are fictional, is Olivia Pope. Every episode I look forward to how her and the gladiators change perspectives and win the public over.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
“Stick it out for a year”. It sounds bad but when Taylor Bennett Foundation’s Programme Director, Sarah Stimson, said this to me I looked at her like she was crazy. But looking back, now I am older and wiser, I completely understand what she meant. You will be challenged, especially in an entry level role but you have to think about your ultimate goal, and equip yourself with the experience and confidence for the next role; that way you won’t feel as if your internship or first job in PR was a complete waste of time.
Ultimately it’s your skills and personality that defines you, not what you look like.
What are your tips for aspiring PRs?
– Build connections: a strong network is gold dust.
– Stay in contact with people.
– Don’t look down your nose at the ‘muck’ (we’ve all had to do it). Rolling your sleeves up proves you can succeed.
– Always, always look for ways to improve; take a writing class, read a ‘For Dummies’ book on a related subject, attend talks or seminars once a month and don’t be afraid to work for free…well only for a month max.
– Diversity in the sector is still an issue however do not let the fact some of the staff team do not look, dress or sound like you put you off. Yes is can be uncomfortable at first but people are people. Ultimately it’s your skills and personality that defines you, not what you look like.