So here it is, part two of the roundup of Tuesday night’s Word of Mouth: Make the media work for you. Yesterday I told you all about Jo Thoenes’ talk about radio and today I am going to tell you about Catherine Warrilow’s talk about PR.
Catherine runs her own PR agency, Seriously PR and their tagline is to find a better way to do things. Catherine started her talk by describing a little bit about her background, how she joined the Newsround press pack at the age of seven and stalked people around her neighbourhood to find a good story. She really wanted to be a journalist but despite this early promise when it came to leaving school the options given to her by her careers advisor were nurse or join the army.
Catherine was non the wiser at this point about what she wanted to do and tried various things, but nothing seemed to stick. She came into contact with a PR agency when working for a large corporate company and although she enjoyed the banter that they brought to the office, the work that they did was a bit fluffy with little substance.
Catherine started to find her feet in the world of marketing and PR when she went to work for a toy company, she liked the company because she was starting to feel the benefit of working for a company that she wanted to promote. She realised the fluffy PR offered by the external PR company was not going to cut it to get the company noticed.
After the toy company and gaining some marketing and PR experience Catherine went on to work for a PR agency. This left her frustrated as the internal structure for creating campaigns left the clients and the staff frustrated. It was at this point that Catherine realised something needed to be done! She had been a disappointed client and a dissatisfied member of staff and decided that there must be a better way to do PR and Seriously PR was born.
Catherine describes PR as the use of the media to give people a voice, whether that is radio, TV, blogs or social media. She told us that to be successful with your PR you have to generate a story. You have to build PR into your business plan and keep at it, as sending a press release, ticking it off the do list and forgetting about it will get you nowhere.
Catherine’s other top tips for creating the perfect PR campaign:
Plan out conversations with journalists. They are time pressured people and you have to get your elevator pitch just right.
Do not be more than one person, be yourself.
Personal touches are important, people buy from people.
Don’t try and emulate the person you are meeting, dress as you.
Journalists are always right.
Strike when the iron is hot and piggy back big news stories in the press.
Forget the press release and get on the phone.
I really enjoyed Catherine’s talk and as a marketer I related to and agreed with what she said. I can completely understand how she felt when she found a company that she was excited to promote, it makes a massive difference when you do what you love. I liked what she said about forgetting the press release too and getting on the phone, never underestimate the power of asking!
Also the fact that I know Catherine all comes down to the third bullet point above. Catherine is married to a man from Stoke (my home town) and I went to school with one of his friends, Katie. When I first started Fe-line I posted about it on my own personal Facebook page and Katie contacted Catherine about Fe-line. Catherine introduced me to Jo Thoenes, who wrote a wonderful article about me and Fe-line for a Canadian magazine and the rest is history! My point here is that you never know how someone you meet will be able to help you. Ultimately PR and marketing is common sense: be yourself, tell people about what you are doing and share your story any way you can! Oh and there is always a random Stoke connection involved.
I am also loving Catherine because she bought me this:
Love and random Stoke connections,
Last night me and the cat held one of our great Word of Mouth events: Make the media work for you. We were joined by two really great speakers, Jo Thoenes from BBC Oxford and Catherine Warrilow from Seriously PR and we had beautiful cakes made by Sarah at Chakra Cakes.
As always there was a great atmosphere in the room and even after doing this for 18 months I am always pleasantly surprised about how awesome the speakers are. Word of Mouth is all about creating a space for women to talk about important topics but not to be all about business or all about politics. It is a place to have fun, make friends and support each other. It is reaffirming when I get great feedback after an event like: “Great idea. This is a group we need here in Oxfordshire.”
As each speaker was so amazing last night and I have so much to write about both I am going to split my review into two parts, starting with Jo’s talk about radio today and Catherine’s talk about PR tomorrow.
So let me start with Jo Thoenes from BBC Oxford. Firstly I have to say how wonderful Jo looked, she just happened to be wearing a dress that she got at a Fe-line Frock Swap (one of my old dresses I might add). Jo told us about how she has worked in radio for 16 years. She started in Nairobi when a new commercial radio station opened. She had no experience but she was driven to get herself into the world of radio.
Jo then went on to work for commercial radio station Fox Fm in Oxford (now Heart FM), which she really loved because she was really in touch with local people’s lives. But as the station got bigger she realised if she stayed in commercial radio she would end up as a: “product moulded by the Gods of radio”. She realised that maybe her dream of having her own show on national radio was not going to be what she expected and that in the process she would lose herself.
At this point she had to refine herself as a broadcaster and move into talk radio on BBC Oxford’s afternoon show. The show was all about storytelling (which obviously we love at Fe-line Women). She realised being a good broadcaster was all about being a good listener, listening to what her guests had to say and drawing out the story. Tuning into Jo’s show was a little bit like joining in a conversation.
Jo eventually moved on from the afternoon show when the BBC was having a reshuffle. She felt at that time she had stopped growing on the show and decided to go freelance. She is currently working freelance for BBC Oxford doing their outdoor broadcasts on the breakfast show. What I like about Jo is that she isn’t scared to try something new when it no longer feels right. She has diversified to make her career work for her. She moved from commercial radio to talk radio and now has moved to a much more technical role. She says that she has seen this as a pattern for women in the radio world and although there are fewer women in radio they seem to have the longevity of career rather than burning bright for a short time.
Jo then went to give some important advice to our audience about appearing on a radio show. She said that you have to remember that as the guest you hold all the cards. You have the power of the situation, it is your space and your time. State what you are happy and not happy to talk about, so that you don’t get caught out.
Jo has been a massive supporter of Fe-line Women and I am very grateful that she came last night to share her story with us. It was a perfect example for me of why Fe-line Women is great platform for women to tell their stories.
More about last night’s event coming up tomorrow with the roundup of Catherine’s talk about PR.
Love and media stories,