#4PRQs for: Fenella Grey of Porter Novelli

Fenella Grey, answering #4PRQs (Four PR Questions) this week, is the Managing Director at Porter Novelli. Fenella has previously been working for Freuds and Weber Shandwick. She told me that she’s a believer that there’s no such thing as work/life balance. “It’s one life,” says Fenella.

MK: What was your way to the industry? 

FG: Having majored in languages and literature and having always wanted to work with words in a creative environment, I went down the classic route of exploring advertising, publishing, marketing and then stumbled across, as I think most people do to be honest, the world of PR. PR for me embodied a hugely broad spectrum, covering a range of sectors, issues, audiences and environments. You can’t get anything more public as Public Relations. I took the classic route by taking an intern role and working up.  I think there’s nothing like learning on the job in our industry. Seeing is believing and experiencing is understanding. 

What piece of advice, regarding career, would you give your 20-year-old-self?

Know your value and find your voice, always have an opinion and always root that opinion. Have an understanding where you best fit – where, when and how you play in your industry. Because knowing and understanding your value gives you a sense of mutual benefit as opposed to taking what comes your way first time round. There are a couple of people I hark back to that have given me good advice on the way – Matt Neale advised me to watch X Factor and Newsnight to cover all bases!  Edie Wiener, CEO of The Future Hunters, gave me a few tips for making sure to always be 2 steps ahead of the curve.

  1. Subscribe to 2 publications you’d never read
  2. Stay current to all music
  3. Use interns for ‘alien’ eyes
  4. Hire a 15 year old mentor, as only children and aliens aren’t incapacitated by baggage

How can PR graduates take advantage of the social and digital platforms, in order to gain attention of the agencies and other potential employers?

An obvious point, but your social media platforms are the window into you as a person, as an employee, as a family member, as a friend and as a colleague. I think the first thing we do when we see an interesting CV is to google them to understand how much their written CV matches their real persona in an authentic way. I’m a firm believer of there being no such thing as work/life balance. It’s one life. In our world particularly, work and life has to come together, otherwise you are going to fight a sense of balance and not get ultimate satisfaction.    

First thing we do when we see an interesting CV is to google them to understand how much their written CV matches their real persona in an authentic way.

What is the most undiscovered area in the industry that could be used as a dissertation topic?

How do we as in industry unlock the power of diversity to get to more creative, ambitious, bold and courageous solutions for clients? I think as a discipline, PR is way behind the curve in terms of hiring across different walks of life and experiences. We need to actively encourage the collision of different brains, backgrounds and professions, to get to more progressive thinking, particularly in the context of a divided society post Brexit. The challenge is how to bring these different minds and experiences together quickly and efficiently. It’s easy to fall into the ‘London Agency Bubble’, which is why in addition to how we think about our own agency make-up, we need to spend time walking in the shoes of our clients, customers, stakeholders and audiences to really understand how to make a difference.  Our industry needs to wake up to the opportunity that diversity brings, and fast.


Make sure you follow Fenella on Twitter. She can also be found on LinkedIn. You can also check Porter Novelli’s feed on Twitter for the latest updates, and the agency’s website.

Four PR Questions (or #4PRQs) is a weekly series on the blog. I am on the mission to help PR graduates (including myself) make right decisions about their future careers, by asking industry leaders for an advice.

Would you like to give me a feedback or feature in the series? Drop me a line to kl.marcel [at] gmail.com or tweet me @marcelkl. Thanks for stopping by, have a splendid day!