Could you give us a brief overview of your career to date?
I have been fortunate to have experienced a diverse, at times very exciting, career in both strategic and operational roles. The early part of my career was in marketing, PR and communications roles in the media – I’ve held senior positions in news and in entertainment media; in commercial radio, national newspapers and TV launching or re-launching some of the UK’s most famous media brands. I’ve also worked in agencies working with a range of consumer brands and more recently with the corporate sector – with governments, international brands and organisations, and have developed leadership communications programmes to support women’s progress in the workplace.
What do you attribute your success to?
I have always enjoyed work situations where I am charged to make changes or to work on developing new projects. You learn not to fear failure and that by taking risks you make real gains. I combine a creative approach with warmth and empathy to get results, but I am tenacious and determined for myself and for my clients. Working in leading national newspapers early in my career and being married to an international news journalist has given me a tremendous appetite for news in all forms.
What have been your top three career highlights?
- Most recently developing training and coaching programmes which are designed to help women improve their confidence in the workplace - the result of years of communications experience and a background in psychology.
- Working in entertainment media – at Capital Radio for many years, in TV making programmes for Channel 4, the BBC and ITV – were demanding but exciting too. It’s hugely rewarding to see media audiences and engagement grow as a result of effective marketing and PR strategies.
- I enjoy working with senior management or leading figures to raise profiles or highlight issues. Running the international PR and comms strategy for the annual Templeton Prize, whose recent winners include Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, is a good example.
Tell us about your involvement in White Water Women and what the programme aims to achieve
I work with the leading coaching and training company White Water Group to deliver programmes to develop leadership communications skills and behavioural awareness for women. My interest in this area has developed over the past four years resulting in courses and training, sometimes creating bespoke programmes for clients or individuals direct. Women often articulate a lack of confidence that can hold them back. Confidence is not a skill in itself; it’s a result, a tool kit of skills and self-awareness that turns thoughts into action. It works - improving confidence in the workplace to achieve promotional goals or to build resilience can be achieved through training and practice.
How do you define great PR?
Delivering the right outcome for a client is great PR. It could be could be helping a business survive in the face of a wave of unfair adverse publicity (I have experienced this and it’s the most rewarding if demanding type of PR). Great PR could also result in increased footfall or highlighting an important issue resulting in behaviour change. When I started my career in PR and marketing there used to be an argument that PR alone could not result in sales. My experience and the perceived view are now very different.
What would you recommend to other professionals as vital to standing out at your level?
It’s imperative to understand that effective PR and communications is more than the process. Clients and agency teams can get caught up in the latest comms fad without proper consideration for the outcome. Standing out involves using experience and knowledge to advise and follow through on what works most effectively to meet each communications challenge. And, like our clients or employers, we are all brands ourselves. Having an appreciation for our own brand values – what makes us good at our profession, our behaviour as a good leader or collaborative team member is what others will remember.
Thank you Anita for taking part in our interview.
The Works Search specialise in placing board to mid level PR and communications talent in leading PR agencies and in-house organisations across London, on both an executive search and contingency basis. For our latest roles visit our jobs page, or to discuss your career in confidence contact us on 0207 559 6690 – we would love to hear from you.