My Life in PR – This Much I Know, is an interview series that talks to PR professionals about their career journey and what they’ve learned along the way. From the innovation that they wish they had invented, to their favourite books and mentors who have left a lasting impact. This series covers more than just career advice and takes a look at the person behind the title.
Laura Wall is Group Account Director - PR & Advocacy at ThinkHouse. Laura studied Communications in DCU, graduating with a 1st Class Honours in 2009. She then completed a Masters degree in Public Relations in DIT, graduating in 2010. In the short time since then, Laura has built up a wealth of experience in the industry, beginning her career as a Client Executive at Drury, where she worked for two years.
Laura has also been an Account Manager at Focus PR, Account Director at both Inkling Communications and Wilson Hartnell. She is currently Group Account Director for PR & Advocacy at ThinkHouse, as well as an Associate Lecturer for the MA in PR & Strategic Communications on Integrated Communications at DCU.
Name the one work tool that you couldn’t live without
Can I call coffee a tool? If not, the notes app on MAC laptops.
What communications innovation do you wish you had come up with?
Media monitoring and digital listening. My past Account Executive self is still pretty traumatised from manual clipping, sticking and mounting.
What is the best book you have read in the past year?
Bonus Time by Brian Pennie. It really shook me and totally re-energised my outlook on life and my appreciation for every single day.
Why did you decide to follow a career in PR?
I fell in love with PR when I was doing my undergrad in Communications in DCU. I loved the PR module. What struck me was how PR professionals can shape opinion and be a strong force of good influence in society.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at the start of your career?
You don't need to try and fit in. Your uniqueness will be an asset to you. Be your authentic self, always.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in their career in PR?
Things can get stressful in the world of PR, but always remember it's PR not ER. Lean on your colleagues and co-workers and seek advice/get approval before you jump into action in a stressful situation. Better to get it wrong with your colleagues than with a client or the media.
What are the 3 biggest lessons that you have learned throughout your career?
Double and triple-check who you're sending that email to.
You often can't control work situations. You can always control how you react.
Always get a second and third pair of eyes on your work.
Name three principles that you hold dear when it comes to your PR work
Relationships are everything in PR. Build them brilliantly.
Ill-designed presentations will devalue your work entirely.
Never stop being curious about the world around you.
If you could make one lasting change in the PR industry, what would it be?
That we collectively take responsibility for the impact we have on our planet with the communications we put out into the world.
What are your top 3 media relations tips?
Get out and meet journalists face to face. If I've learned anything from Covid, it’s that nothing can replace the chats and connection in real life.
Always check if the client story is relevant to who you are sending it to.
Be on top of the news agenda, always. And understand what other stories are landing in the media before issuing your press release. Timing is everything.
What do you love most about working in PR?
Seeing earned coverage land for our clients both locally and internationally. It's proof that your idea/story was on the money. It's what gets me out of bed in the morning, and that's the way it's been since I was an Account Executive. If you don't get excited by landing coverage, you might be in the wrong game!
Who in the media do you most admire and why?
It changes all the time. But at the moment it's Richard Chambers. He's a brilliant reporter and is using different platforms brilliantly for delivering news. He's even taking news to TikTok in a really authentic way for the younger generation and making it very relevant to them.
Did you have a mentor? Who were they? And what was the most important thing they taught you?
In terms of a mentor in the industry - I would have to say that's Padraig McKeon. Myself and Padraig worked together during my first job at Drury and kept in touch ever since. Now we are both involved with Purpose Disruptors Ireland - a group of like-minded communication professionals who are passionate about bringing climate health to the top of the agenda in the industry. Padraig and I also both lecture for the MsC in PR & Strategic Communications at DCU. We regularly meet to discuss the industry, the future and our dogs! He's one of the busiest people I know, yet always has time for you.
He's taught me to always be curious, to collaborate with others in the industry and learn from them, and to place huge value on continued development. I don't call him the PR godfather for nothing! More about Laura
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