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.
Joanne O’Sullivan is a Senior Consultant at Murray Consultants. Beginning her career as a freelance arts journalist, Joanne made the move to the world of PR and communications in 2020 where she began as a Senior Account Executive at Murray Consultants, where she is now a Senior Account Manager.
Joanne discusses her move from book buying and selling to PR and talks about some of the valuable insights that she has learned from her time in the PR industry so far.
Why did you decide to follow a career in PR?
I've always had an interest in the media, and love keeping on top of the news every day. Being able to combine my love for media with achieving ambitious business objectives and creating impactful campaigns in a PR role sounded like the perfect mix to me.
Specifically, tell us about your route into working in the PR industry?
My Masters degree was in Contemporary Literature & Culture and I started out working in the book world and as a freelance arts journalist. I discovered quite quickly that I wanted more exposure to business strategy, so I moved into a corporate training and consultancy role. It gave me excellent experience in building relationships, content development, and project management but I felt like I was still missing an element I really loved.
While working on designing and implementing a Female Leadership programme for a client, I approached Murray Consultants to consult on the programme development and speak at the course. I developed a great working relationship with their Director Avril Collins, and once I was ready to make a new career move I got in touch with her. As luck would have it, she was looking for someone to join her team and I interviewed for the role - the rest is history!
What is your favourite thing about working in PR?
I love being engaged with the media everyday; whether it's managing media relations for a campaign, monitoring developing issues for a client, or keeping up to date on specific industry news and policy developments.
I enjoy speaking to journalists regularly and building good working relationships across different categories of media. I'm also lucky to have some wonderful clients, and have loved working on a range of interesting and challenging projects with them.
If you could make a lasting change in the PR industry, what would it be?
Some of the most valuable skills I've gained in my PR career have come from working with talented and generous people. I think industries like PR can get a name for being competitive and demanding, and while there's definitely challenges to the job I've found the relationships I've built with colleagues, clients and media to be one of the most rewarding and enlightening parts of the industry.
I'd love to see that culture of support and collaboration become common practice across the whole industry, because it leads to better outcomes as well as more motivated people.
Name one person who has influenced your career and tell us why.
Avril Collins, for opening the door into the PR world for me. She was an amazing first boss to have. She taught me to have the highest standards in everything I do while also managing to have fun and enjoy the work.
Name one communications tool you couldn't live without.
It might sound basic, but all my eNewspaper apps. I love starting every day reading the news and keeping an eye on the external environment for clients.
Tell us about a campaign or piece of work that you’ve worked on that you are proud of.
I really enjoyed working on Meta’s ‘Good Ideas Deserve To Be Found’ campaign in late 2021. It was a high impact campaign aimed at highlighting the value that Meta apps - Facebook and Instagram - offer small Irish businesses. Working alongside digital-led consumer activity, we also pursued a highly focused corporate media engagement strategy to target business audiences and address SMEs, policy makers and policy influencers.
We secured Nicola Day (Sales Manager with Meta) for the Irish Independent feature This Working Life. The feature allowed us to present a personal view of a Meta employee with direct involvement in supporting SMEs in Meta, while also giving a wider view of the organisation’s culture of working positively with businesses.
Oliver Sewell, Meta Director of Business in Ireland and UK, was featured in the Irish Examiner column My Job. In addition to reporting on the campaign, the interview included information on how we support SMEs on Meta platforms.
Our engagement with corporate media succeeded in positioning Meta as an authoritative and relatable voice on current SME and retail trends, demonstrating how its platforms are used to lead the way in supporting businesses.
Finish this sentence. “The best way to connect your story to your audience is by…..”
Empathising with them.
What is your favourite hobby?
I love reading and staying on top of new book releases. It's getting harder and harder to find the time, but I can still sometimes be found interviewing authors in the book pages of the Sunday Times Ireland and Irish Examiner.
What is the best book that you have read in the last year?
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.
What is your binge watch recommendation?
Only Murders in the Building.
Name three trends that you think will be important in the PR industry in the next five years.
Conscious Consumerism: We've become highly aware of the environmental impact of the things we buy, but social and economic sustainability are thankfully becoming increasingly important to people too.
Data Driven Insights: Working with credible data and relevant insights is the most effective way to create impactful campaigns and announcements.
Diverse Talent: There are skills shortages across all sectors at the moment, but I hope PR leads the way in thinking outside the box in attracting new talent and different skills to the industry.
Which social media site is the most important to you and why?
Twitter for breaking news stories and Instagram for fun!
Name one staple of the PR industry that you think will die out in the next five years.
I think cold-calling news desks has already started to become a thing of the past. Effective PR is built on strong relationships and direct conversations.
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