Anna Carter, Golin’s head of client service, on the changes she has seen in the PR industry as an agency veteran, her thoughts on the future of PR and her favourite beauty campaigns.
You’ve had years of experience at top agencies including Red, Lexis, Hill + Knowlton and now Golin. What’s the biggest change you have seen in PR over this time?
The biggest change is integration; there is very little work we do now that sits in a PR-only silo. Today everything needs to work together, across channels and disciplines, amplifying, complementing and enhancing a consistent creative and strategy. The good news for PR is that with this change, PR tends to have a far more central role in the comms mix now.
More often than not, clients are looking for PR and social agencies to come up with the big content ideas that work across multiple channels, rather than expecting PR to fall out of the advertising creative.
What do you see in Golin’s future in the next five years?
Continuing to go down the path we are already on where the focus is on brilliant creative ideas rather than the discipline or channel they are coming from. Removing barriers to how we work and dissolving self-imposed silos about whether we are a PR, a social or a digital agency so we are completely focused on delivering great work for our clients.
How did you get into PR?
I wanted to be a journalist for a long time, so I started writing for my student newspaper at Leeds getting to the dizzy heights of crime correspondent! But the diversity of PR really appealed to me, so I enrolled on a postgraduate PR course in Cardiff and that was my stepping stone into the industry.
What’s the best advice you have received for working in PR?
I’m not sure one single piece of advice stands out but I have been incredibly lucky to work with some very talented and inspiring people throughout my career who I have learnt a huge amount from. I’ve learnt from the very best in the business on how to have the most productive, successful and close relationships with clients and that’s probably the most important thing I’ve learnt. You may have the best idea in the world, but if you don’t understand where your client’s focus is, or how to excite and engage them with something, you’re going to make it much harder to succeed and do great work.
Why are mentors important in PR and what’s your best bit of advice for new starters?
Mentors are really important and being able to learn from and bounce your ideas off people who are a step removed from your day to day workload is critical. My advice for new starters is to just go for it and be excited about what you’re doing – be proactive, put your hand up for things, ask questions, and get stuck in.
Having worked with a range of beauty brands in your time as a PR, and as a beauty enthusiast yourself, what’s your favourite beauty campaign of all time?
Without a doubt, and for so many reasons, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. It was completely groundbreaking at the time and had (and continues to have) a huge impact on how other beauty brands communicated with their audience. I felt incredibly strongly about what Dove was doing and so being part of the team that launched that campaign in the UK was a very proud moment. I will never forget the day the story broke, we had secured a front cover lead in the The Times Magazine and I woke up to a huge media frenzy that went on for months. It was a massive career highlight for me.
You have worked with household names such as Dove, Magnum and PepsiCo and Danone. What excites you about working with big brands?
It’s often not necessarily the brand itself but rather the appetite of the client to do exciting work and take a risk with bolder ideas. But I love working on integrated campaigns with big brands where all the agencies around the table are invested in cracking a brilliant single minded idea and exploding it out across all our channels.
How do you switch off?
That depends but I’m currently training for a half marathon so doing long runs in the cold, wet weather definitely helps me switch off from work!