Behind the Creative: How to dominate the PR industry
In this instalment of Behind the Creative, we speak with Mimi Gibson, Account Director from tide.pr about how PR professionals – particularly junior PR professionals – can get ahead of the competition and put themselves in the best possible position to dominate the PR industry.
Mimi, tell us a bit about your PR journey. How did you get to where you are today?
I love telling stories. I studied media and communications at uni because I wanted to be a journalist – I’m super glad I’m not a journalist now though! I interned at an AFL club in Victoria in their media team, got a feel for PR and that experience opened so many doors for me. I started part time at a boutique agency Dig and Fish underneath Haley Shamray [CN: Haley was our very first Behind the Creative interview – check it out here!]. They didn’t have a big PR arm, but were looking to expand and I just took the opportunity and ran with it. From there, I worked at two well-known Melbourne PR agencies before landing at tide.pr where I get to connect brands with people in a really meaningful way. We won Mumbrella’s award for Boutique PR Agency last year which was super exciting and I think that win reflects the positive impact our work has on people.
What is it about PR that you love?
For me, it’s all about connecting brands with consumers on a personal level – when I see that happen, it’s so exciting. Above and beyond that, I love the actual PR work and process from concept to completion – aligning a brand’s vision and really tailoring it to showcase their key messages and USPs to ensure we’re achieving full exposure and maximum awareness for a brand’s campaign. I also get really excited by other people’s ideas and making them a real life reality, which has happened countless times across my career. I’m full of passion and drive when I’m working with innovative brands and awesome, it’s where I tend to do my best work.
If we were to talk about a PR professional absolutely conquering their job and the industry, what does that look like to you?
It’s more than just saying yes to a client brief and then executing the campaign. You’ve got to dig into the ‘why’ – why does that client want to run this campaign, launch this product or get people to do a certain thing (besides earning money!).
Once you have unearthed the ‘why’, you then need to establish the best approach for your client and what will achieve maximum exposure and ROI for that campaign – is it purely PR or a dedicated influencer campaign or a multi-channel approach?
I like to think the latter as you’re targeting mass audiences across different platforms, engaging and converting consumers to be genuine brand advocates but every brand is different, so that’s why it’s so important to understand what your client is hoping to achieve.
What kind of traits do PR professionals need to achieve this level of success?
First and foremost, you’ve got to have a flexible mentality. PR is an ever changing game – one minute things are smooth sailing and the next, you’re facing rough seas. Being able to assess the situation and what your next step is, pivot and get back on the straight and narrow quickly and successfully will take you far in the PR industry.
You need to be solutions focused. Whether a crisis has impacted your client or they are looking for PR coverage for a campaign, you need to be able to look at what they present you with and provide a strategy and recommendations to help solve their problems, while bringing big, creative ideas to the table.
Finally, be relatable and approachable. PR is an incredibly competitive industry, especially when it comes to winning clients, so be open and warm. Have conversations about the day to day stuff, you can’t just get down to business straight away. You also never know what you’ll learn from those conversations – they can be a goldmine!
Do you have any tips and tricks to share?
One of the most important things is to listen and learn. Don’t ever think you’re done learning, there’s always going to be something new to learn. You can never take in too much information!
In my experience, the best way to learn is to soak up the knowledge from the people around you – whether it’s while working alongside a colleague or approaching someone in the industry and ask them out for a coffee to pick their brains. Training courses, videos and podcasts are also solid ways to learn, as well as reading the news (which my dad drilled into me as a young kid) but I find nothing beats talking with people in the industry. Plus, having an eagerness to learn and showing initiative will always help you progress.
Finally, embrace constructive criticism because it shapes your journey and assists your personal growth inside and outside the workplace.
The PR industry, like many industries, is always changing and evolving – where do you see it going?
PR is definitely going down the integrated path. PR and marketing compliment each other so well and brands these days want a mix of marketing and traditional PR pitching. However, it’s important to remind brands that these target two different audiences across different platforms and they can’t achieve the same things.
We’re also currently seeing how powerful influencer marketing is as it empowers PR campaigns, and I think we’ll continue to see that this year. We’ve seen the rise of video content and TikTok in conjunction with influencer marketing and more brands want video and/or TikTok to be the centerpiece of their campaigns. They can repurpose the content, get on a trend bandwagon and benefit from that and reach bigger and more diverse audiences.
Anything else you want to add?
For those entering the industry, experience is everything, particularly agency experience. The skills you pick up from working in an agency are easily transferable and make you a more desirable candidate, giving you a great head start in the interview process. Start applying for internships at an agency, and once you’re in, the opportunities are endless when you bring an open mind and are adaptable, approachable and on the ball.
Besides experience, just back yourself. Go for it and have fun. Get comfortable with failing because it will lead to your biggest successes.
If you want to chat with Mimi about this article or anything PR related, you can connect with her on LinkedIn. And if you’re looking for PR roles, we’re the people to talk to – get in touch at email@example.com.
Finally, if you want to be featured in our Behind the Creative series, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – be sure to mention what topic/s you would like to chat about.