Name: Ann Pilkington
Job title: Director
Company: PR Academy
How would you describe your current role?
I am director of PR Academy which is the largest centre for CIPR qualifications. We also run the AMEC College which is all about measuring PR and communication and have a suite of our own courses and master classes.
How would your current or past colleagues describe you?
Gosh, no idea – I’d rather not think about it! I would like to think hard working and caring but you would need to ask them!
What roles make up the company or, what role are you currently in?
I am one of two directors that run the business, we have a small admin team but about 30 PR professionals who teach and mark assessments for us
Describe a typical working day for you?
It’s very varied. I am often dealing with queries from tutors and students. A big part of my time is spent on process improvements (we are ISO 9001 accredited) . As a small team we need to be lean and as efficient as possible – managing the study of more than 500 students a year can get complicated! I also spend time developing the business. That might be designing a new course, talking to potential partners or conducting research about what communication professionals are looking for.
What are the perks of the job?
Meeting lots of great PR and communication professionals and learning lots all the time about the business that we are in.
My career highlight would be…
When I was working in PR I got some great coverage for companies I worked with (BT, The Woolwich and The AA). I think starting PR Academy and seeing it grow is probably the best.
A mistake I made in my career, which I’m happy I learnt from, is…
I am the type of person who is quite self-critical so I am also thinking “how could I have done that better”. One silly thing I do remember though from my very first PR job. I went home and left the guest list for a major event on my desk (this was before we had computers – yes I am that old!) and came in the next day to find it gone. In the night it had fallen on to the floor and the cleaners had thrown it away. I had to spend the morning in the loading bay going through all the rubbish bags until I found it ! Even today, I never leave anything on my desk that isn’t weighted down!
The most important thing I’ve learnt, which has helped my career is…
Work with people who have the same high standards that you do. We have a cracking team of tutors and markers at PR Academy who are all passionate about what they do and really care about their students.
What has been your journey to get to where you are now?
Taking risks, being a bit disruptive. I never wanted to sit in the same job or organization for years to build up a good pension. I always took that view that you could walk out of work on your last day and get hit by a bus, so take risks, be a bit disruptive.
What was your biggest career break?
Going to work for The Woolwich I think. It introduced me to working with national media and understanding more about how business works
What does success mean to you?
Thinking that there’s nothing you want to do that you haven’t done. (Including wing walking which I really must get booked !)
What qualities do you think are essential, for working in PR and communication?
Common senses – unfortunately it is all too uncommon ! Curiosity and some healthy cynicism,
What is the one piece of career advice you would give to someone starting out?
Being interested in everything, be helpful, be easy to work with (sorry that’s three!)
Name some useful PR tools that you can not live without?
Anything that keeps me up to date with what is making the news – Twitter, Google alerts etc
The best thing about working in PR is?
Do you have a favourite PR person? If so why?
I have worked with some lovely and very talented people, it wouldn’t be right to name just one!
With a hectic schedule, how do you keep beautiful inside and out?
Getting outside for a walk – I believe in fresh air and walking is almost a form of meditation
What are your work wear staples?
Because we don’t have many visitors to our office, I can get away with jeans most days
For all our overseas readers, please tell us what is your favourite thing to do in London?
What a great city! Cocktails in The Shard is a real treat, I have a thing about tall buildings (and roof gardens) I seek them out whatever city I am in
Finally, what are the top 5 items every PR Girl should process?
Well it’s not just girls of course! Never go anywhere without something to make notes on, take your curiosity with you, something to take pictures and upload them – you never know what you might stumble on. I think that’s enough.
Hello there!!! (sorry for shouting at you, just excited that someone may be here reading this lol) Thank you for taking the time to read all of this interview. So what did you think…I’m hoping to make this a regular feature. If you have anyone in mind who you think may be suitable to interview please let me know in the comment box below.
Also I want to thank Ann from the PR Academy for taking the time to support PR Girl SOM.