PR Rising Star is an interview series from MediaHQ that talks to up-and-coming PR professionals. It looks into why they decided to follow a career in PR, their predictions for the future of the industry and their favourite book of the last year.
Ali Finnegan is a Senior Account Manager at TravelMedia.ie. Ali graduated with a degree in Gaeilge and Geography from DCU in 2018 and in 2022, completed a Masters degree in Digital Marketing Strategy from Munster Technological University.
In 2019, Ali joined Meetingselect as a Digital Marketing Intern and in 2020, she began in her role of Junior Account Executive for TravelMedia.ie. Ali was appointed as Senior Account Manager at the organisation in January 2022.
Why did you decide to follow a career in PR?
I studied Irish and Geography in university but have always had an interest in communications, media and marketing. After my undergrad, I did an internship in Digital Marketing and a certificate in Digital Marketing where I learned more about PR and media. By then I knew it was the role for me.
Specifically, tell us about your route into working in the PR industry?
Once I finished my internship and studies, I was on the job hunt. I love to travel, so when I saw an opening for a junior role in TravelMedia.ie I jumped at it. From day one, I've learned the ins and outs of travel PR (much of which was during a pandemic). Since then I've gained a huge amount of experience and worked my way up to managing client accounts and haven't looked back.
What is your favourite thing about working in PR?
The people! I've always been a people-person and I love that this role allows me to constantly build on relationships and form new ones with a huge range of people - media, clients, other PRs. I'm delighted that live events are back up and running after covid for this reason.
If you could make a lasting change in the PR industry, what would it be?
I’d like to see more brands recognise the value of video in PR and prioritise this in their strategy. Video is such an important tool in PR and is rapidly increasing in popularity. With the explosion of TikTok over the past two years and Instagram’s gradual shift to a video-led platform, this form of content is only going to keep growing in the digital world. Video allows brands to connect with their audiences, illustrate their brand values and ultimately build trust with their audience.
In today’s world, consumers expect brands to reflect their own values and video content is an ideal way to get these brand values and meaningful messaging across to the consumer, evoking emotion and connecting with your audience on a personal level.
Name one person who has influenced your career and tell us why.
Niamh Waters, my first manager in TravelMedia.ie. She taught me the ins and outs of PR and the travel industry and gave me a lot of responsibility in the role. The experience and guidance I got from her gave me the confidence that has helped me get to where I am now in my career.
Name one communications tool you couldn't live without.
Twitter for staying on top of the latest news.
Tell us about a campaign or piece of work that you’ve worked on that you are proud of.
In February 2022, Dr. Karen Weekes became the first Irish woman to row solo across the Atlantic, spending 81 days at sea and finishing her journey in Barbados. On behalf of Barbados Tourism, we built a campaign around Karen's record-breaking feat. We hosted Irish media in Barbados and arranged a welcome party for Karen's arrival in Port St. Charles with over 30 Irish people, Barbados Minister for Sport, and local and Irish media. Karen's story got incredible coverage - Barbados national publications, Irish national and regional publications (Irish Times, Independent, Examiner, the Sun, Daily Mail).
Karen also appeared on the Late Late Show and did several radio interviews. Karen's journey was so inspiring, I was honoured to work on this campaign and travel to Barbados and help share Karen's story.
Finish this sentence. “The best way to connect your story to your audience is by…”
What is your favourite hobby?
I love going to the gym, especially a spin class. I find it a great way to clear my head and destress. Even when I have to force myself to go, I feel great afterwards.
What is the best book that you have read in the last year?
'Where the Crawdads Sing' by Delia Owens.
What is your binge watch recommendation?
The U.S. Office.
Name three trends that you think will be important in the PR industry in the next five years.
Video - Video is here to stay. I think we have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the use and importance of video for PR and brand building.
Influencer Marketing - This has evolved in recent years and will continue to do so. Brands are beginning to understand the value of working with micro/nano influencers in comparison to the big accounts with six or seven figure followers.
Events - The world moved online for two years and everyone's eager to get back out there and connect in-person through live events.
Which social media site is the most important to you and why?
Instagram. I think it's a great way to connect with the media, keep up with social trends and research new and emerging influencers.
Name one staple of the PR industry that you think will die out in the next five years.
Print media. The world is moving more to digital every day so I think it's inevitable that digital will take over eventually. Digital is more beneficial in many ways for both the publisher and the consumer. It is quick and cheaper to produce, easy to access and share, more sustainable and produces better insights.
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