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.
Katie Brill is SVP PR and Communications for Junk Kouture, a fashion competition for secondary school students, where participants design, create and model fashion made from recycled items. Katie graduated from Queen Margaret University with a degree in Diatetics in 2019, before making the decision to join Junk Kouture and switch careers to public relations.
In 2019, Katie joined Junk Kouture as their Public Relations Communications Manager and graduated from UCD with a diploma in PR & Marketing Communications in 2021.
Why did you decide to follow a career in PR?
My decision to embark on a career in PR was totally unexpected and it surprises a lot of people. In truth, just three years ago, I had to google what PR was. The CEO of Junk Kouture, who has known me since I was 16, recognised my communication and creative skills and my passion for the mission of his company. He suggested I come to work for the brand to see how I got on in the world of PR - a position he believed was made for me. A career change and almost three years later, I can't believe how far I've come. I wish I had known about PR sooner.
Specifically, tell us about your route into working in the PR industry?
When I finished my degree in Dietetics in Edinburgh, my plan was to stay working in hospitals in Scotland for a few years. I graduated in July and because I loved Dietetics, I thought I had a nice plan for myself transitioning from the world of a student to a full-time working adult. But along came Troy Armour, the CEO and creative genius behind the creative programme for youth, Junk Kouture. I had participated in Junk Kouture when I was 16 and ever since this, I continued to get involved in workshops and events where I could, as I loved the ethos of the brand and what the experience meant to me as a teen. In August of 2019, I was involved in a workshop for Junk Kouture and Troy heard me speak about the company to camera. Unexpectedly, on my return to Edinburgh I got a call from Troy explaining how he and the team would love to have me on board as a PR and Communications Executive.
I couldn't believe it, but I jumped at the opportunity and thought to myself, my degree is always there. Since then, I have undergone media training and have a Diploma in PR and Marketing Communications from UCD to enhance my skill set and gain more responsibility in my role.
What is your favourite thing about working in PR?
With no hesitation, my favourite thing about working in PR is seeing the power of storytelling and what this can do for a brand in terms of credibility, brand awareness and enjoyment for the reader/viewer and/or the young student(s) we're telling the story about. It has a domino effect. Seeing our PR trickle down the company is always a rewarding feeling for me.
If you could make a lasting change in the PR industry, what would it be?
It would have to be increasing the visibility of PR as a career choice for students, going back to me not knowing what PR was until I was 23. Furthermore, when I explained to my friends and family my sudden career change, I received the same head tilts of uncertainty as to what the meaning of a two letter career was. If I had known what PR was when filling out the CEO, I really believe it would be a career I would have considered. I believe that there are a lot of young creative people with great communication skills that are unaware of this path and I'd like to make that change.
Name one person who has influenced your career and tell us why.
Jane Smith, Chief Content Officer at Junk Kouture. Her career before Junk Kouture would blow anyone away and it certainly did me. When she started at Junk Kouture, I knew that I would learn so much from her experience in the world of media, entertainment, PR and content. Since working alongside Jane, I have learnt so much and she always makes me feel valued and champions my work to achieve things I never believed I could.
Tell us about a campaign or piece of work that you’ve worked on that you are proud of.
Last September, I led the PR announcement of Junk Kouture launching in five new global markets including New York, Paris, Milan, London and the UAE. I hired agencies in each city to work alongside me and moved to the UAE for three months. I travelled to NYC, carrying out photoshoots with local students and pulled off a PR campaign garnering press in publications such as NY1, Fox10 News, Al Littihad, The National, Marie Claire Italy, The Times London and the list goes on. It was a fast paced couple of months, but I enjoyed every minute of it, learning along the way and getting to see the world talk about the brand.
Finish this sentence. “The best way to connect your story to your audience is by...”
bringing your audience on a journey through your storytelling and imagery. Grab their attention from the offset and keep them engaged throughout.
What is your favourite hobby?
Travelling as much as I can.
What is the best book that you have read in the last year?
‘No One Can Change Your Life Except You’ by Laura Whitmore. This one positively surprised me.
What is your binge watch recommendation?
Currently it's Chicago Med on Netflix.
Name three trends that you think will be important in the PR industry in the next five years.
Influencer marketing will go from strength to strength. We have started to look at influencers within our own alumni community too - speaking to our GenZ audience and keeping our messaging authentic.
Podcasts are on the continuing rise of popularity and are a super way of getting a brand's messaging out there.
Inclusivity, diversity and equality - although not trends as they should be the cornerstone of every brand’s messaging.
Name one staple of the PR industry that you think will die out in the next five years.
Email blasts for sure. Our world has never been so connected. Through social media, it's becoming much easier for PR professionals to build a relationship with journalists who your story is relevant to. Building this relationship through social media as well as email of course, allows for opportunities to arise.
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