Working in PR: An insider’s view

By Joanna Elliott, Account Manager

Name, title and how long you’ve been at Whiteoaks

Jo Elliott and I am an account manager working in Team Indus. I joined Whiteoaks in 2017 as a junior account executive and am proud to have progressed through various roles to now manage several clients.

In your current role, what does a typical day look like?

As with most people currently, my days are consumed with emails, Microsoft Teams messages, and Zoom meetings. In between that though you can normally find me working on new angles to get my clients in the press, developing campaign ideas, proofreading content, checking the news (via Twitter), and supporting the rest of the team in their roles.

How did you get into PR?

I really like to talk (perhaps to a fault) so I knew I wanted a job in communications but before starting at Whiteoaks I didn’t really know what that meant. I had done some work experience at Covent Garden corporate PR agency so started researching more local agencies and managed to get an interview with Whiteoaks – as they say, the rest is history!

What did you study and how has it helped you grow your career?

I did my degree in English Language and Media and although it taught me some basic skills such as creating compelling news stories and drafting press releases, I wouldn’t say it had helped me a great deal in my career. For me, PR is one of those careers you need to jump into, right at the deep end. Some of the best experiences and most valuable lessons I can recall all came from being pushed outside of my comfort zone.

Why PR?

It’s pretty well recognised that PR is a fast-paced industry to work in, and that can be challenging but it also comes with an exciting buzz which is what I love. It’s a bit of a PR cliché to say no two days are the same, although it is true to some extent. The variety of activities and subjects of different clients keeps me on my toes and gives me exposure to the inner-workings of many different industries.

What is the best part of your day? 

Seeing a fantastic piece of coverage get published for a client is always the most rewarding feelings, especially when you were involved right from the conception of the idea or strategy.

Also, I’d have to say that catching up with my team is certainly one of my favourite parts of the days, especially since we’ve been working from home. It’s great to talk through all of the great work they’ve been doing, and of course, catch up on the latest Netflix series we’ve been binging!

What advice would you give to people who want to get into PR as a career?

I don’t think a relevant degree is necessary to have an awesome PR career. Although work experience is certainly preferable, for me a genuine interest in the news, a keen eye for an interesting story and an appetite to develop relationships are the most important factors. And it goes without saying that you need to be organised and able to adapt at short (or no) notice. If you tick those boxes then you’d be a great candidate to begin a career in PR.

What has been your funniest / quirkiest moment in PR?

It’s more mortifying than funny but a few years ago I was attending a journalist briefing with a client and very nearly introduced the client to complete the wrong man. In my defence, he looked incredibly similar!

Fortunately, no harm was done as I realised my error pretty quicky but now I always tell colleagues to be absolutely certain they’re familiar with who they’re meeting beforehand to avoid making my mistake!

If you didn’t work in PR, what would your ideal job be?

Vegan food taster (if that is a thing?). I’ve been vegan for almost five years and the market has grown so much since 2016 when the most you could hope for on a menu was a falafel salad. There are so many new vegan products coming out and surely someone has to taste them? Eating food and getting paid for it – now that really would be the dream.