NE Comms conversation #25 “who knows, maybe we’ll be the next big thing”


The very last in the series and it’s my colleague in the NHS Kerri James. This brings us up to 25 blogs packed with pearls of wisdom from North East comms folk. Read on for advice, tips and experience.

What made you get into the PR/comms business?

Sounds like a total cliché but from watching Sex and the City when I was younger! Sam’s job as a PR looked so glamorous! When I looked into what PR/comms was, it actually sound like something that fit my skills perfectly, particularly the communications aspect of it.

How have things changed in the last 5 years?

Definitely digital, it’s changed everything, not just giving us more options in terms of getting content out there, but also our relationship with the press. What they want from us now, is so different to what they wanted 5 years ago.

Are you optimistic about the future?

Very. Especially as things move towards more digital platforms (like ones that don’t exist yet and we don’t know yet that we can’t live without them!) I think those are specialist skills, and organisations will need people with specialist skills to manage them.

What single bit of advice would you give graduates just entering the business?

Although you’re probably sick of learning, never stop doing it! PR/comms changes so often, it’s very easy to get left behind or become obsolete. Never stop learning, go on all the courses you can, and try to stay ahead of the game which will make you a valuable asset.

Are disciplines like PR, marketing and advertising becoming the same thing?

I think so yes. Even organisations who you wouldn’t traditionally think of as needing advertising and PR like, the NHS ones I’ve worked in, are now pull elements from all of those disciplines based on demand internally and externally.

What are the key traits people in PR need to succeed?

Flexibility, agreeability, confidence and being a do-er as well as a talker!

Is the industry becoming more or less fragmented?

I think for a while that it did become more fragmented, but I feel like it’s coming back together. I definitely felt this way personally, but I’m making a real conscious effort to make more connection with fellow communicators, as we have so much knowledge we can share.

For you, what’s the real benefit of good PR/comms?

Working in the NHS, good PR/comms can also mean safer care for patients, like the work we do encouraging staff to get the flu jab for example.

What worries you about the industry?

If there were ever another recession. I was very lucky to get my first communications job after graduating from university, just before the recession hit. I ended up in an assistant’s role for five years as there were no jobs to apply for, never mind being worried about the competition. It put my career back by about 2-3 years, and it does worry me that if another recession hit, communications jobs could be the first to go.

What ‘s the best thing about living/working in the North East?

The people, and also for me at the moment the big foodie scene.

What are the key issues facing the North East right now?

Finding us a mayor! I think we’d be in a much better position economically, and Westminster have said as much, our local councils need to swallow their pride, and appoint a mayor to give us more powers.

What do you see as the next big thing?

I’m not very good at trend forecasting, I play roller derby, who knows, maybe we’ll be the next big thing.

What’s your favourite film?

A league of their own, all about the girl power.

Who will play you when they get round to making the biopic of your life?

I really really love Emma Stone as an actress, I think she could do me justice in my biopic which would promise wheels, thrills, and great comms.

Picture: Creative commons courtesy of Terrence McNally

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