Five things I’ve learnt… with Olivia Haddow

Five things I’ve learnt… with Olivia Haddow
March 19, 2019 Olivia Haddow

19 March 2019: While it’s already full steam ahead for 2019, the opr Melbourne team has encouraged each other to reflect on what has led us to this point, and how we can continue to grow. Last year was a big one: we have married, expatriated, moved houses, graduated, been promoted. Both in and out of the work sphere, we have grown and developed in many ways.

So, as we welcome a very busy new year, here are my reflections on PR – from four years in London and six months in Australia.

In an industry that thrives on exaggerations, telling the truth pays dividends

Years ago, at another workplace, we had a new Account Manager join my team. Taking the reins on the account, she rang the client to confess that we weren’t reporting accurate coverage numbers.

“You’re paying for a poor service. We need to change the way we approach things.”

It was, of course, unthinkable; admitting to a client that we didn’t believe the figures we were sharing with them. Yet, this bold, brave move in being honest led to an authentic, trusting client-agency relationship that flourished for many years. Telling the truth in an age of untruths is a powerful position.

Account management isn’t what you think it is

You’re a manager: calling the shots, leading client comms, deciding what happens (and when!) and rallying the team. It’s an opportunity to work on the bits of the job you really like and shifting the less glamorous bits to others. Right?

Wrong. Account management is about putting your team first and making sure they have all the tools at their disposal to develop into great PR professionals. It’s about managing clients to draft thorough briefs with healthy timelines, giving confidence to the team that they can handle the job, guiding them through it and giving counsel along the way. Bonus points if you can do it with a smile.

Not everyone loves PR

Don’t kid yourself – PR isn’t a universally-loved marketing tool. The term “PR” itself is often used to describe spin or hiding truths. There have been too many examples of poor work that can impact the reputation of our profession.

However, when done properly, PR is a powerful tool. It is about focusing organisations on their truth, and creating powerful, believable assets to tell their story. When done well it has the power to shift opinion, to change – and open – people’s minds, traversing age-old barriers and divides.

Take, for example, our recent work with the Lung Foundation and the Fair Go For Lung Cancer campaign, which tackled the nation’s lack of empathy when it comes to lung cancer.

When brands and organisations get into trouble, PR can often be the function that has to cut through the noise to tell an honest story to rebuild trust and equity into brands. Ultimately, PR is about telling the truth – and only the truth; a unique and important role in an era of fake news.

Brands can surprise you

It’s not just the “cool” brands that are the best to work on. My advice is don’t be swayed by the stereotypes. If you have a brave client, it doesn’t matter what the product is, there will be opportunity to create a bold and courageous campaign with a little encouragement.

Have fun

The best PR is done when you are immersed in the brand or product and throw yourself into the work headfirst. You can’t do that unless you are having fun – or are at least willing to give something new a crack. This attitude will pay dividends – and will be contagious to your team too.