NE Comms conversation #7 “I wish I hadn’t took that so personally”

When I started asking people to take part in this conversation about PR in the North East, Jill Farmer was someone I really wanted to take part.

Having studied and worked alongside Jill I knew that she’d have a great perspective on what’s what.

She’s analytical and focused on detail in a way that Shames me so I knew she’d offer some good insight on the business.

What single bit of advice would you give graduates just entering the business?
Great end results are only part of the big picture. Work hard to master your client management skills, the sooner you do, the quicker you’ll go far.

How have things changed in the last 5 years?
The biggest change has been the shift in power of how and who can convey messages to your target audiences. When I started in PR, getting placed in the press, on radio or TV was the be-all-and-end-all. The rise of blogging and social media has brought a mass-mouth-piece to ordinary folk, companies and organisations. Traditional media channels have had to adapt to this new landscape and raise their game. Oh and the ever-dwindling number of reporters on newsdesks at provincial papers has also brought about new challenges for PRs – with some positive and negative impacts on results.

Are you optimistic about the future?
Always. In the 14 years I have been in communications I have only met one person who has quit the industry and I don’t know any PR pros who hate their job (and I know a lot). That speaks volumes. PR is a great place to be and the enthusiasm and adaptability of the people in our business means the future is bright.

What are the key traits people in PR need to succeed?
Must be a news-junkie, a strong writer, creative-cookie, social butterfly, a multi-tasker and a tight-deadline-devotee.

For you, what’s the real benefit of good PR/comms?
A great reputation and good communications help you get ahead of the competition and stand out in a crowded marketplace – that’s the real benefit.

What advice would you give the younger you?
Probably to be more thick-skinned. PR people have their fair share of pitches for stories and by-lined articles knocked back, especially in the early days when you’re still on a steep learning curve – I wish I hadn’t took that so personally at times.

What worries you about the industry
I think we struggle to get the respect we truly deserve at board level in the commercial world because of our age-old problem of how we prove our return on investment.

What’s the best thing about living/working in the North East?
The craic, warmth and humour of our people – they make this place like no other.

What do you see as the next big thing? A few things, here goes…
1. The advancement of wearable technologies is going to vastly change communications.
2. As the vast majority of journalists (some reluctantly) have their job titles changed from reporter to multi-media journalist, the challenge for PR pros will be to provide them with visuals that help us tell our story and help them to do their jobs. Whether it’s infographics, video, charts or illustrations, the humble news release will need more back-up in future.
3. I don’t think Pinterest has yet reached its full potential for PR use, especially for consumer PR and brand management.
4. The White Paper will also become a more frequently used PR tool too I think, most obviously in the business to business arena.

What keeps you up at night?
At the moment, Orange is the New Black. I’m half way through Series 2 and can’t seem to switch it off ‘til the early hours.

Jill Farmer is a PR pro, wife, mother & wine lover. Set-up her own PR consultancy – Be Seen Be Heard – in 2011. Check out for more information.

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