SPOTLIGHT ON: SHEREENE WITTER, ACCOUNT DIRECTOR, FRANKLIN RAE

Name: Shereene Witter
Company: Franklin Rae
Job title: Account Director

Twitter: @shereenewitter
LinkedIn: Shereene Witter

Did you go to university? 
Yes, I studied third world development and communications at the University of East London. I graduated in 2011 with a 2:1 (a couple of marks of a first, but hey)

What was your first job in PR?
Straight after university I did a three-month internship during the summer, which I found through my university. It was with the Taylor Bennett Foundation in association with Brunswick. It was a great experience, which taught me the many different disciplines of PR and provided a number of great networking opportunities. In fact, it was through the internship that I found and landed my first permanent role in tech PR with the Octopus Group. I was lucky enough to join as an AE a few weeks after my internship came to an end

It was a great agency, which taught me a great deal in terms of management, business development and also personal development.

How did you get from there to your current role?
From the Octopus Group I went on to join another agency called Champion Communications as a Senior Account Executive. After four short months I was promoted to Account Manager. It was at Champion Communications where I started to develop my interest and experience in the TV and media sector. There I oversaw the PR for a kids TV channel and a TV distribution company, amongst other tech and digital clients. It was a great agency, which taught me a great deal in terms of management, business development and also personal development. After 18 months at the agency I was approached to join my current agency, Franklin Rae, as an Account Director and I haven’t looked back since

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
My days vary quite a bit. One day I could be working on the launch of a new TV production company or programme, and the next I could be preparing for an event or devising new business proposals. But that’s what I love about my role at Franklin Rae – everyday is different. In addition to driving new business for the agency, overseeing HR and operations, and working on team development, I still get to pitch to journalists, write articles and organise events or screenings. With that said, I often find that 6pm creeps up on me quite quickly, and although I’ve managed to write a couple of press releases, send out a new business proposal and attend a couple of client meetings, there is always more to do and so little time. It definitely pays to enjoy what you do and the people you work with. That way no matter how busy you are, it’s worth it and never a chore

What do you like most about working in PR?
I love being able to work with so many different types of people. Over the years I have managed to build a network of diverse and interesting people; from founders of new and exciting TV companies, to tech innovators, creative directors creating really cool branded content and award-winning actors. Helping these people to achieve their business goals and aspirations is truly rewarding. I have also been able to work with and learn from some amazing PR and comms people, who have given me invaluable advice and guidance throughout my career. It’s so important to build and maintain relationships with people you meet and work with. These relationships could pay great dividends one day

Try new ways to stand out from the crowd. Perhaps send a short video clip about yourself or an interactive/animated CV.

What’s the hardest thing about working in PR?
One of the hardest things about working in PR is actually landing your first permanent role and getting your foot in the door. The key is to be passionate, persistent and persevere. We receive a number of emails about internships and work experience at our agency. The ones that really stand out are those that send  clear, short and to-the-point cover letters. There is nothing worse than receiving a really long cover letter or email, that’s also really generic. You can always tell when it’s a copy and paste job! Also, it pays to be creative in our industry. Try new ways to stand out from the crowd. Perhaps send a short video clip about yourself or an interactive/animated CV. You will definitely be remembered. There are also some great initiatives out there to help you, such as the Taylor Bennett Foundation and Creative Access – both of which specialise in helping BAME talent. The likes of the PRCA are also good

Who is your PR inspiration?
In my first role at Octopus I was lucky to have the BEST Account Manager and Account Director. They provided a great foundation for me to progress, and always had time to help and guide me. They have both since moved on to pastures new, but will always remain friends and inspiration

be nice to people and work hard

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given? 
Another one of my bosses once told me always be nice to people and work hard. Simple, but effective. People will always remember you if you leave a good impression. Work hard, play hard is another one. PR is known to be a stressful career choice, but there are so many social benefits and perks to the job

Which PR blogs, news sites and websites do you read?
I always glance through the PR Week newsletter. That’s a standard. But I find other publications, which aren’t necessarily straight PR-focused, such as The Drum, the Media Guardian and Stylist also offer great insight, advice and tips from inspirational people in the industry doing great things

You have to believe in yourself

What are your tips for aspiring PRs?
Be creative. Network, network, network and be passionate about what you want to do. You have to believe in yourself. If you’re passionate about a career in PR and truly believe that you can bring something to a role or a company, then own it and let it be a driving force

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