NE comms conversation #11 “You cannot ride every horse yourself”

As Head of Communications at Nexus Huw Lewis regularly tackles some of the biggest issues in the media. Transport is a huge issue across the region and the Metro is firmly part of North East life.

Here, Huw passes on some tips and assess the NE comms scene.

What made you get into the PR/comms business?
I began as a journalist but always thought I would grow up one day; telling a story on behalf of one organisation seemed rewarding.

How have things changed in the last 5 years?
Audiences have splintered as media brands decline. Media used to be the main aim – today only multiple channels will generate reach.

Are you optimistic about the future?
Yes – our expertise should be in great demand as audiences diversify, and there is now no excuse to avoid two-way communication.

What single bit of advice would you give graduates just entering the business?
There is not one career path in PR; gain wide experience and identify fulfilling roles and organisations you will be happy representing.

Are disciplines like PR, marketing and advertising becoming the same thing?
No – comms and marketing tactics cross over and adverts can be part of the mix, but good PR goes further by forming deeper relationships.

What are the key traits people in PR need to succeed?
Act with integrity. Always. Never promise more than you can deliver. Written and verbal skills come close behind.

Is the industry becoming more or less fragmented?
The skills we need are fragmenting. You cannot ride every horse yourself but you must be able to harness them in a campaign.

For you, what’s the real benefit of good PR/comms?
Done right, good PR will make or save a business millions. You should be able to show your boss or your client why this is the case.

What advice would you give the younger you?
Listen. You will hear much more of value than you expect.

What do you see as the most important issues in PR right now?
We must never stop demonstrating the value good PR brings – and that PR needs to be anchored in corporate culture, not seen as a sideshow.

What worries you about the industry?
Social media is an important channel, but we can be guilty of overstating its importance.

What ‘s the best thing about living/working in the North East?
The network of sharp, switched-on and supportive industry colleagues you get to work with by day and have a drink with at night.

What do you see as the next big thing?
Evaluation based on hard business outcomes, targeted reach and response rates, rather than soft measures such as coverage and ‘Likes’.

Who will play you when they get round to making the biopic of your life?
Matt Smith. But I’m told you had to be there when I was a young graduate with hair.

What’s your favourite film?
Into The Wild

What keeps you up at night?
The nagging voice that says: ‘that didn’t quite go quite right today … admit it and you can still go back and change things tomorrow.”

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