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 the biggest challenges that they face on the job. This series covers more than just career advice and takes a look at the person behind the title. Kathryn Mason is the Owner & Managing Director of Masonry PR, which boasts clients including MCD Productions, IMRO Radio Awards, Celtic Woman and the Gaiety Theatre. Beginning as a Creative Services Agent at Virgin Music UK in 1990, Kathryn made the move to marketing in 1991, when she joined BMG Ireland working first in administration and working her way up to Marketing Manager. In 2002, Kathryn moved to Universal Music where she took the role of Repertoire & Media Manager before setting up Masonry PR in 2003.
Name the one work tool that you couldn’t live without.
CoverageBook - I completed an International Diploma in Measurement & Evaluation with AMEC in 2021 so I'm really passionate about showing the best practice in reporting to clients. The Barcelona Principles are made so easy to demonstrate using CoverageBook. It's been so great to show clients our results in proper measurable ways.
What communications innovation do you wish you had come up with?
WhatsApp voice notes - The conversations I've had with my VA where we've saved so much time on quick questions, it's been a life saver. I'm also using more with media contacts, but only ones I know well enough not to be weird.
What is the best book you have read in the past year?
When I was 16 I wanted to know how bands got on the radio for interviews and how my favourite pop stars were able to be on Saturday morning TV. I had no idea there was a whole industry behind it but it fascinated me and that curiosity still hasn't left me.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at the start of your career?
You will be more successful than you ever dreamed possible. Just believe more!
What is the biggest PR challenge that you face?
Time - It is always a juggle with time management and expectations from clients or the media, but I have a few systems, including time blocking that are really helping me to achieve more in a day.
Tell us about a campaign or piece of work that you’ve worked on that you are proud of.
Launching Westlife in Ireland before anywhere else in the world. I had a lot of pressure from the UK office and Simon Cowell to ensure this wasn't just big but this was a HUGE success, so that everyone could use Ireland as the story. I spent five amazing years working with Louis, the band and Simon. I'm still super proud of what they have done and 20+ years on I have been able to work with them as individuals and as a band.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in their career in PR?
Always be nice to the gatekeepers. Be it the receptionist, assistant, security, whoever. They are the people that will help you to get in the door with the right people. The same goes now for the virtual world.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned throughout your career?
Never stop learning - I'm always doing something as a CPD (Continual Professional Development). You can never stop learning something new in PR.
Name three principles that you hold dear when it comes to your PR work.
1 - Be honest - It is not worth it to not be truthful. Tell lies and you will be caught out and disrespected. The PR industry relies on you being credible. 2 - Share - Be it with peers or juniors. Always bring someone along with you and help them, as you never know when the shoe will be on the other foot. 3 - Value - Always value your relationships with the media. We are all only doing our jobs, so I strive to do my best to help them and know that I've always done as much as I can to assist. If they can't do something this time for you, there is always next time.
If you could make one lasting change in the PR industry, what would it be?
Help the industry to show our value better. I still can't believe clients accept and want things like AVE's (Advertising Value Equivalency). Everything is so much easier to track and see reactions, impacts and outcomes. I'd dearly love the value of the work we all do in PR to be as highly regarded as possible.
What are your top three media relations tips?
1 - Be helpful. If you can't help with a media request, make some suggestions or give a steer in the right direction. The media will always respect you for helping them and come back to you as a source. 2 - Sharing is caring. Make sure to share and tag your clients' coverage and to thank the media. It is so important for their employer’s SEO to see click links to articles etc, so ensure to do it on your socials and get your clients to as well. 3 - Become a go-to. I have relationships with the media where they come to me and my clients time and time again, as we deliver what they need if they are under pressure. You can't put a price on that relationship.
What do you love most about working in PR?
I love people, so PR is in my blood. I am a real old school talker so I don't rely on email all of the time. I love having a chat on the phone or in person over coffee. It is amazing the work that you get done just by talking. I never fail to get a kick when a client lands big coverage, be it radio, TV, print or digital, I always get excited.
Who in the media do you most admire and why?
I hang on every word that Seth Godin says. He has been an inspiration to me in communications for years. His book "Permission Marketing" blew my mind when I read it back in the 90's. He was light years ahead and I credit him for inspiring so much of my career. I often still re-read it, just to get that creative spark ignited.More about KathrynLinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathrynmason/Twitter: @MASONRYdotie
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