Name: Chimere Cisse

Job title: Global PR & Strategic Communications Manager,

Company: Burberry

Twitter @PRGirlLondon

How would you describe your current role?

I have a hybrid role across our corporate and consumer PR teams, developing communication strategies that help shape our media narrative – whether through regional PR, working with talent or partner organisations.

How would your current or past colleagues describe you?

Determined, energetic, and kind (I hope)

What roles make up the company or, what role are you currently in?

Global PR & Strategic Communications Manager,

Describe a typical working day for you?

There are very few ‘typical’ days in PR, however, I always start my mornings by first dissecting the news. I try to read a broad variety to better inform my decision-making and knowledge of what’s happening in our industry. Everything from the Financial Times, Business of Fashion and Fast Company to blogs and social media. My days are filled with conference calls to Asia and the Americas, meetings with our regional teams, and time spent creating presentations. Often I’ll go to Burberry’s Thomas’s cafe to meet with partner organisations over tea or catch up with talent agents in preparation for upcoming photo shoots featuring our campaign talent.

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What are the perks of the job?  

Being able to wear Burberry day in and out. It’s always fun dressing up for work. I am also lucky enough to attend incredible events and our twice yearly runway shows are always spectacular.

 

My career highlight would be…

There have been so many career highlights – from landing my first job at Hearst Magazines – which saw me manage PR for Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE UK – through to curating a series of panel discussions with my favourite brands, think tanks and digital influencers at the Hoxton Hotel. Working with some of the biggest names in the industry – such as Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen and Benjamin Clementine and other times, simply being able to help an intern or assistant achieve their own career goals – which is thoroughly rewarding.

A mistake I made in my career, which I’m happy I learnt from, is…

It took me a long time to realise that everyone you meet in the course of your studies and career are forming your future network. They may just be the people that in five years’ time are key to you landing a coveted role or opening a door. Keep in touch with your contacts!

The most important thing I’ve learnt, which has helped my career is…

Never give up. I was once told I would never have a career in PR as I had no contacts in the UK when I first arrived to London in 2007. Thankfully I shunned that advice and took it upon myself to push doubly hard to build those contacts. If you have a goal, don’t listen to the naysayers. Just go for it! If you can dream it up, you can make it happen.

What has been your journey to get to where you are now?

My journey has seen me work for an amazingly diverse group of people and organisations, such as the Venice Arts Biennale, WPP Think Tanks through to VISA. I’ve relished the chance to explore all sides of my industry and have had a lot of fun in the process. Don’t limit yourself by sticking to your lane; look for the detours. You might discover something new and surprise yourself!

What was your biggest career break?

There have been many career breaks along the way; a former boss who took a chance on me despite my having no experience, a contact that gave me an internship at London Fashion Week fresh out of university, an old colleague who taught me how to first use Twitter in 2009… they have all laid the path to where I am today.

What does success mean to you?

I’ve always been drawn to the creative industries. Being able to use my skills to highlight the work of creatives give me great satisfaction. There are some incredible people doing really exciting work out there in the world and without good PR they may not get heard in this crowded media landscape. That’s where I come in. Firstly as a curator and then to give them a platform to be heard. I know I’ve been successful when a client gets the recognition they deserve.

What qualities do you think are essential, for working in PR and communication?  

Open ears, an inquisitive personality and the ability to think outside the box.

What is the one piece of career advice you would give to someone starting out?

Be careful what you think – your thoughts are energy and energy creates our reality. Dream big! What are you waiting for?

Name some useful PR tools that you can not live without?  

My phone – some would say it’s permanently attached to my hand. That’s literally it.

The best thing about working in PR is?

The experience – it’s an incredibly dynamic and fast paced industry. It can take you places you never dreamed of.

Do you have a favorite PR person? If so why?

I’ve come across some great PRs in my time working in all sorts of areas – Nadine Johnson, Mandi Lennard, Lynne Franks, Anna Gibson, Robin Invest, Penny Watson, Jessica Patterson… The ones who stand out are all super creative, hardworking, intelligent and ballsy! They have the ability to build relationships not based on what people can give to them now, but what they can one day create with that person in the future. It’s a skill that not all PRs possess.

If a PR person asks you “How can I do my job well?” what would you say to them?

Take time to foster genuine relationships – you’ll enjoy your job so much more working with people you would count as friends. Work with brands you truly admire and the selling in will take care of itself. Passion is contagious – learn the art of crafting engaging angles and stories. Gone are the days of the humble press release doing the job for you. Drive excitement!

With a hectic schedule, how do you keep beautiful inside and out?

Ha – most days that’s a struggle, I’ll be honest. But I try to make time for facials at my friend Andrea Pfeffer’s Fitzrovia salon PfefferSal and have regular osteopathic treatments at KUU London. If I’m really lucky, reconnect with nature somewhere exotic – like Byron Bay. I love making smoothies and eating green. But like most big-city workers, it’s a constant balancing act.

What are your workwear staples?

Burberry of course, peppered with a little Stella, McQueen, Phillip Lim and Donna Ida denim. I always come back from New York with a few new pieces from random LA brands and Australia has the best fashion boutiques hands down. I love wearing strangelove fragrance from Harrods – I’m obsessed with their oudh perfume oil necklaces. I also have a small obsession with gold jewellery from Istanbul.

For all our overseas readers, please tell us what is your favorite thing to do in London?  

You can’t go past the Wallace Collection for a fix of art – it’s London’s best kept secret. Pop over to Chiltern Street nearby for Cire Trudon candles and the Monocle store, followed by a quick cocktail in the ‘ladder shed’ at Chiltern Firehouse. If you fancy a visit to East London you can’t go wrong on Redchurch Street. I love Monologue for Swedish blankets, AESOP for handwash and round the corner Hoi Polloi for people watching over dinner, Tow Path Cafe for coffee and Columbia Road flower market for floral therapy.

Finally, what are the top 5 items every PR Girl (or boy) should possess?  

INSTAGRAM
iPHONE
BLACK BOOK
LAPTOP
PASSPORT

Thank you Chimere for taking the time to support PR Girl S.O.M xxx

Name: Becky Lockett

Job title: Publicist

Company: ME!/Crep Protect

Twitter@Blockett

How would you describe your current role? 

No day is the same!  I’m currently working across a number of projects – and they are very varied but that’s how I like it!  I’m working with both brands and talent which is a good mix and there’s a lot of cross over.  My experience as a personal publicist has definitely helped when it comes to working with brands, especially when they are reaching out to talent as part of their campaigns. It’s fun to be able to work creatively with both parties to meet all of their objectives.

How would your current or past colleagues describe you? 

Haha – erm, tall!  And hopefully hard-working and creative – I like to think there’s always a solution to every problem if you just think about it in the right way.  I think it’s important to enjoy what you do and have a good time for the most part.  I believe that’s when people are most productive and some the best work can come from a throw-away idea when you’re having a laugh.

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What roles make up the company or, what role are you currently in?

I’m working in house at a brand called Crep Protect – they produce a rain and stain shoe protection spray and the brand has grown phenomenally over the two years since it started. It’s a really exciting time for the company and there’s a lot going on – it’s a really dynamic team and we have the scope to be really creative in our approach to building brand awareness.

Describe a typical working day for you? 

No such thing – but I generally like to be working by 9.30am.  Checking emails and doing the usual twitter, facebook, instagram checks, reading the papers and catching up with the Mail Online, key blogs etc  then it could be anything from driving to the Crep Protect office, having a label meeting, catching up with a journalist, heading to a trade show, planning a shoot or working from home.

What are the perks of the job? 

No boundaries. Being able to be as creative and as outrageous as you can, taking inspiration from everything and everyone around you.  It’s people watching on a professional level – what makes people tick, share, like, RT etc and trying to incorporate that into your brand activity and messaging.  Plus you get to do some amazing things and go to amazing events.

My career highlight would be… 

Taking Method Man from Wu Tang Clan shopping in Marks and Spencers on Oxford Street… don’t ask.

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A mistake I made in my career, which I’m happy I learnt from, is… 

That’s a tough one as you make a good few along the way! The one that springs to mind is when I worked at GAP and I messed up when I was cashing up one night so the figures said we had taken £0 but there was about £10k in the safe…we had to phone America and explain..! I was mortified but I survived and the company’s still doing alright – I never made that mistake again though!!  I’ve definitely learnt that most things can be fixed – it’s PR not ER at the end of the day.

What was your biggest career break? 

I’d probably have to say working at the MOBO Awards – it was a hell (note the emphasis) of a rollercoaster ride for a number of reasons but it was a baptism of fire and I learnt a lot very quickly and met some great people.

What qualities do you think are essential, for working in PR and communication?

The ability to communicate, it sounds silly but amazing how many people lack that fundamental skill in this industry – and it is a skill!  Being sociable doesn’t hurt as you have to do a lot of socialising and usually when you feel least like doing it.  And being able to say no to the 6th glass of free prosecco [it used to be champagne but you know, budget cuts…] is always a good one.

Name some useful PR tools that you cannot live without?

You have to have smart phone!!  It’s cliché but you genuinely cannot live without it now.  Along with that a phone charger, as currently there is no phone on the market that can last as long as a PR!   A full contacts book too.  I have worked with some incredible people and thankfully, most of them are on the other end of the phone when I need to check something or ask for advice.  I have to shout out Sundraj Sreenivasan at Supersonic PR and Tristan Piniero at Grayling who are the best at what they do, and are always on hand for some sage advice or a good old brainstorm!  Especially working for yourself it’s so valuable to have people whose advice you trust and who have your back.

The best thing about working in PR is?

It changes every day. But I love coming up with an idea, making it happen and seeing the results.  Plus I still get a buzz from having a happy client.

With a hectic schedule, how do you keep beautiful inside and out? 

Ha!  I don’t know that I do!!  Lots of water, even more Chocolate, cocoa butter, lip balm and Mac Face and Body.  An absolute essential though is having good friends who keep you grounded when you’ve been to one red carpet event too many and get overly blasé about Chris Hemsworth stepping on your foot – plus they let you have a good old moan over a glass of wine when it all gets too much!!

What are your work wear staples?  

Sneakers. I don’t think I actually wear anything else.  It’s one of the perks of being a “creative” – you can get away with it!!

For all our overseas readers, please tell us what is your favorite thing to do in London? 

Ooh, lazy Saturday mornings wandering around Brixton market (South London) and stopping for brunch.  I love it there!! We even have our own currency, you know.

Finally, what are the top 5 items every PR Girl should have?  

Smartphone, Benefit “they’re real” mascara, a sharpie, baby wipes [honestly] and a black body con dress.

Thank you Becky for taking the time to support PR Girl S.O.M xxx

Name: Ann Pilkington

Job title: Director

CompanyPR Academy

Twitter@AcademyAnn & @PRAcademy

 

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?

The variety

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.