SPOTLIGHT ON: SARAH HALL, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SARAH HALL CONSULTING

Name: Sarah Hall
Company: Sarah Hall Consulting Limited
Job title: Managing Director

Twitter: @Hallmeister
LinkedIn: Sarah Hall
Website: www.sarahhallconsulting.co.uk

Did you go to university?
I went to Leeds University’s Trinity and All Saints College where I studied French and Media. It was a joint honours degree so I did twice as many hours as everyone else but it was worth it – the four year programme included a year working as a teaching assistant in France and also two PR internships, which weren’t widely available at the time.

What was your first job in PR?
My first job in PR resulted from the second of my university placements. I was helping in the Regional Affairs department at Tyne Tees Television doing things like launching the latest Catherine Cookson series (that gives you a clue to my age) and they offered me a contract once I graduated. It was fun and gave me useful insight into programming and how a news room works.

How did you get from there to your current role?
When I left Tyne Tees it was to go to a PR consultancy at a time when people stayed in the same job for ten years plus. I took a different approach and leveraged the different opportunities that came to me.

Firstly, I moved to a full service marketing agency to widen my experience. I was then headhunted for my next three roles, staying at each agency for about two to three years, before I started my own business.

During this time, I worked hard on building my network by getting involved with the CIPR and continuing my CPD, including studying for a part-time MA in marketing.

The company is based on an agile business model which means the team is free range and work from home at times to suit.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Today I run Sarah Hall Consulting, a PR and marketing consultancy in the North East of England. We offer strategic advice and tactical implementation to a range of public and private sector organisations.

The company is based on an agile business model which means the team is free range and work from home at times to suit. It’s a great way to have seven day client support and a happy, highly motivated team in place.

I am also the founder and editor of #FuturePRoof, which is a book and community designed to assert the value of public relations as a management discipline. The first edition has had over 2500 downloads and I’m now busy working on book two which is due out this September.

Public relations is much more about business and management than many people realise.

What do you like most about working in PR?
I guess I love the diversity of PR and its role in building relationships between an organisation and its publics. I also love to bust misperceptions about what is and does. Public relations is much more about business and management than many people realise.

What’s the hardest thing about working in PR
The fast pace which can at times feel relentless when you’re trying to re-skill accordingly but then that’s also part of the fun.

failure isn’t a bad thing if you learn from it

Who is your PR inspiration?
This is an easy one. It’s Dr Jon White and it’s why I dedicated #FuturePRoof: Edition Two to him. Jon spotted the opportunity for public relations way back in the nineties and has been signposting the way ever since. He’s absolutely right in saying that practitioners must develop their core competencies in order to be able to fulfil the role of strategic adviser at Board level. He has really helped me develop as a professional and I’m extremely grateful for that. Hopefully I’m helping continue the message through the #FuturePRoof community which teams with even more fantastic people who are also generous with their time and knowledge. 

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given? 
I completed the Google Squared digital marketing course a couple of years back. One of Google’s mantras is ‘fail fast and fail forward’ – so keep trying new things and remember failure isn’t a bad thing if you learn from it. It’s pretty sound advice.

Which PR blogs, news sites and websites do you read?
I’m an avid Guardian reader and there’s a handful of PR blogs I visit fairly regularly.

  • wadds.co.uk – Stephen thinks out loud. He doesn’t always get it right but is tireless in helping our business learn
  • holmesreport.com – the team made up of Arun, Aarti, and Paul provide insightful commentary on our business
  • michaelwhite.online – Michael brings a fresh perspective to public relations through theory and practice
  • iliyanastareva.com/blog – Iliyana applies public relations techniques to sales and marketing. It’s clear she’s going to do really well for herself
  • https://prprointraining.wordpress.com – Arianne Williams is a new graduate who walked straight into a job by demonstrating her abilities through her blog. She’s great
  • I’m also going to plug futureproofingcomms.co.uk. It’s jammed packed with good stuff from a variety of leading PR experts.

Take personal responsibility for your CPD

What are your tips for aspiring PRs?
Look at the new Global Body of Knowledge competency framework and benchmark your knowledge and skills against that. Take personal responsibility for your CPD and don’t just rely on your employers. Be brave and confident and you’ll go far.

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