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. Miriam Donohoe is Head of Communications at Trócaire, where she has been working since August 2021. Miriam holds years of experience in charity communications, as prior to this, she held the position of Senior Communications Manager at GOAL. Miriam has also worked as PR and Corporate Communications Manager at the National Lottery and as an independent PR & Media Consultant.
However, PR is not the only aspect of Miriam’s career. With a certificate in Journalism from DIT (now TU Dublin), Miriam began her career at the Tallaght Echo. From there she worked in a number of roles including News Editor in the Sunday Tribune and the Irish Independent and Political Correspondent, Asia Correspondent and News Editor at the Irish Times. Holding various positions in both journalism and PR has given Miriam years of experience and wisdom. In this interview, she delves into the one work tool she couldn’t live without, her favourite book of the last year and gives her best advice to anyone starting their career in PR.
Name the one work tool that you couldn’t live without
My iPhone 11. It's my portable office!
What communications innovation do you wish you had come up with?
The MediaHQ media database. It is an essential tool in the Trócaire comms team.
What is the best book you have read in the past year?
It’s a non-media related book. A Town Called Solace by Canadian author Mary Lawson. It is a beautifully crafted book tracing the life of three main characters all facing their own challenges.
Why did you decide to follow a career in journalism?
The well-known Irish journalist and broadcaster, Olivia O'Leary, came to my school (St Brigid's Secondary School in Goresbridge, Co. Kilkenny), to give a talk when I was 14. I was smitten and decided on a career in journalism that day.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at the start of your career?
That it is ok to not be so driven, and to take more time out and be kind to yourself. Those years fly by. We are all replaceable.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in their career in PR?
Put powerful storytelling at the centre of your campaigns and all that you do.
What are the three biggest lessons that you have learned throughout your career?
How treating everybody with courtesy and respect, and being kind and a mentor to young people pays dividends. What goes around comes around.
While being driven and passionate about work is so important you do need to step back sometimes and remind yourself what is important. The job will be there after you.
Upskilling and keeping on top of new trends in the media industry is important, especially in this fast moving digital media world.
Name three principles that you hold dear when it comes to your PR work?
Strong, compelling storytelling.
Networking and developing and nurturing media contacts.
Being honest with clients and managing expectations.
If you could make one lasting change in the PR industry, what would it be?
Improving writing skills and eliminating jargon. As News Editor of the Irish Times, I despaired at the quality of writing in press releases that came through the newsdesk. It seems with all of us whatsapping and engaging constantly on social media the standards are slipping even further.
What are your top 3 media relations tips?
Never over push or over sell.
Know your market. Nothing is as annoying as a journalist getting a pitch in an area that is irrelevant to her or him.
Do follow and engage with journalists on social media. It is a great relationship builder.
What do you love most about working in PR?
Having worked as a journalist for 27 years, I love being on the other side of the fence using the skills and contacts I developed to communicate important stories or messages for whoever I work with. Currently that is Trócaire, which is doing incredible work in 20 countries all over the world, making positive change in the lives of millions of vulnerable people. I also love the variety and the different people you come in contact with. No day is the same.
Who in the media do you most admire and why?
There are too many to name, but Olivia O'Leary is still up there as someone who has inspired me and so many others.
Who was your first boss in a media related job and what did you learn from them?
My first media boss was David Kennedy, owner and editor of the Tallaght Echo (now The Echo). My two years there straight from college at the age of 19 were an incredible learning for me. Through his guidance and mentorship I learned that the human story is a powerful thing. At that time Tallaght was a social blackspot, with huge unemployment and drug issues and no facilities. The Tallaght Echo was very much a campaigning newspaper at the time, raising awareness of the vast needs of its communities. I learned that hearing from the people directly affected by government neglect and telling their stories had a huge impact.More about Miriam DonohoeTwitter: @ miriamdonohoeWebsite: www.trocaire.org
It was founded by entrepreneur Jack Murray in 2009. Our cutting-edge software is the best, fastest and most accurate way to find the right journalists, build media and pitch lists in seconds, send press releases and get results.
The comprehensive MediaHQ database lists the details of every journalist, and media outlet in the UK and Ireland and is full of time-saving features.