NE Comms conversation #23 “Embrace digital but don’t forget traditional”

Next into the chair it’s Kathryn Dishman with her take on North East comms and PR.

Kathryn has worked as a professional communicator in both Government and the legal sector but now runs her own consultancy KD Communications.

Here’s what she had to say.

What made you get into the PR/comms business?

I’ve always loved communicating with people at all levels (hence why I’m always called a chatterbox) and take great pleasure in helping others do the same. I went to university with the aim of training to become a journalist and along the way I fell in love with marketing and PR. I did some work experience in a press office and that was it! Totally sold on the profession and knew it was the one for me.

How have things changed in the last 5 years?
Yes, hugely! Advances in digital marketing and social media have changed the whole comms landscape. I think it’s been hard for some businesses to adapt because everything has moved forward so fast.

Are you optimistic about the future?
Yes I am. I think a lot of businesses have come to realise the value of PR and are beginning to embrace it a lot more than they used to. I have felt a real shift in perceptions post-recession.

What single bit of advice would you give graduates just entering the business?
Embrace digital but don’t forget traditional PR. It still has a place.

Are disciplines like PR, marketing and advertising becoming the same thing?
The lines are definitely becoming blurred between marketing and PR and I think advertising is something completely different. There’s a difference between getting coverage in publications that are of genuine value to the reputation of your business rather than paying for an ad to be placed with editorial. It’s now very obvious to readers what’s paid for and what isn’t. Saying that, marketing, PR and advertising can all add value to business if done properly.

What are the key traits people in PR need to succeed?
Good organisational skills, strong instinct, amazing communication skills, the ability to persuade others. A smile is quite important too

Is the industry becoming more or less fragmented?
Less fragmented. I think the CIPR is doing a lot of work to help keep practitioners informed of the key issues affecting our industry – digital developments, audience engagement, messaging and SEO. We’ve moved forward rapidly over the past 10 years so it’s important that we all keep up!

For you, what’s the real benefit of good PR/comms?
For me it’s about helping companies grow. Through my business I get to work with businesses at all stages of their life cycle, from start-up to national, and they all benefit from PR by targeting stakeholders in the right way using the right communications mix.

What advice would you give the younger you?
Be more confident.

What do you see as the most important issues in PR right now?
Educating businesses on all aspects of PR – both digital and traditional. I’m asked on almost a daily basis for advice from professionals who are struggling adapt their comms strategy to include digital activity, so its important now, more than ever, that we help them understand things like messaging, content generation, SEO and social media.

What ‘s the best thing about living/working in the North East?
I love everything about the North East. I’m a Northumbrian girl so I’m very lucky being situated not far from city, the countryside or the coast. I can make the most of all of them. From the work perspective, I think we’ve got a business community that has the ability to compete on a national (or even international) scale in technology, science and education sectors.

Who will play you when they get round to making the biopic of your life?
I would hope someone incredibly beautiful like Blake Lively.

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