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.
Lewis Oakley is a Senior Client Manager at Milk & Honey PR. Lewis spent three months in 2014 working as an apprentice at Bright Young Thing, where he got a crash course in the world of PR.
Since then, Lewis has worked as a Junior Broadcast PR Consultant for Shout! Communications, a Senior Digital Executive at 72Point and an Account Manager at Red Havas. Currently, Lewis is a Senior Client Manager at Milk & Honey PR.
Why did you decide to follow a career in PR?
I always knew that I wanted to be involved in the media space. At one point I thought of journalism but I realised that the stories that brands tell can sometimes be more powerful.
Specifically, tell us about your route into working in the PR industry?
I studied at university but really struggled once graduating. I had to work in a restaurant until finally I was able to get an internship at a top PR agency. Although that wasn't the end of the story. After the internship, it took months to land my first full time role in PR. Looking back now, I haven't a clue how I afforded it. The world is even more expensive now, especially in London. We do need to make the PR industry as accessible as possible and take into consideration the expensive points of entry.
What is your favourite thing about working in PR?
I love the people. I really think we have some of the best people working in PR. It's energising and leads to some inspired ideas.
If you could make a lasting change in the PR industry, what would it be?
I would love to make Public Relations a more diverse industry. Not just in the traditional sense, but recruiting and crucially retaining people of every diversity. Then utilising that talent to diversify everything we can do as an industry and everything we can achieve.
Name one person who has influenced your career and tell us why.
Kirsty Leighton, Founder of Milk & Honey PR. I met Kirsty at a time when I was ready to give up on PR. She re-energised me and gave me the opportunity to evolve and grow. She also has grown an agency that is a true inspiration to the industry and an example of doing things right.
Name one communications tool you couldn't live without.
Twitter. It really is a great way to connect with journalists. It was especially useful during the pandemic when journalists weren't at their desks in the traditional sense.
Tell us about a campaign or piece of work that you’ve worked on that you are proud of.
There are so many that I've worked on over the years that I'm really proud of. However, there is one in particular that stands out in my mind. A few years ago, I placed a story for a client in a prominent national title detailing how to perform the heimlich manoeuvre on yourself.
A few days later and the story appeared again, this time because a reader had read the article and then over the weekend, choked and needed to perform it on himself. So never let anyone tell you that PR can't save a life.
Finish this sentence. “The best way to connect your story to your audience is by…”
Tapping into cultural trends.
What is your favourite hobby?
I actually co-host a podcast, Bisexual Brunch, which has fast become a chart topping LGBT podcast around the world. I've done a lot of work around removing some of the stigma bisexuals face but the podcast is such a unique world that we have created.
It's lovely to be able to chat with other bisexuals about the issues impacting us.
What is the best book that you have read in the last year?
My Magical Mermaid - it is the book I read my one year old daughter every night and she loves it! It has become a staple of bedtime.
What is your binge watch recommendation?
And Just Like That…- it's awful but you just can't stop yourself watching it. I also feel it's united many in condemnation of it, it's always nice to see people coming together.
Name three trends that you think will be important in the PR industry in the next five years.
Aligning with social causes/purpose led comms - As we see Gen Z continuing to vote with their wallet and demanding the brands that they choose align with making the world a better place, purpose led comms will be even more important.
Stories need to be clickable if they are going to get national attention. It’s all about SEO. Milk & Honey PR has an incredible digital team. From what I’ve seen of their work, it is increasingly clear that digital and SEO is the future.
Increasing diversity. Going forward, I think asking ourselves if our industry is preventing certain people from being able to enter AND progress. If there are people that our industry doesn’t work for, we need to be asking ourselves why and addressing it.
Which social media site is the most important to you and why?
Twitter has really removed some of the barriers between PR and journalists - especially over the pandemic.
Name one staple of the PR industry that you think will die out in the next five years.
Calling journalists on the telephone. I know us oldies don't want to hear it but the pandemic changed things. Very few journalists were answering their phones and the industry evolved. People are sliding into DM's to pitch now and I wouldn't be surprised if people start pitching through dance moves on TikTok in the future. Let's get creative.
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