“To succeed in our line of work you have to see the upside in everything,” tells me Alex MacLaverty, who I’m really lucky to be featuring in #4PRQs (Four PR Questions) this week. Alex is Hotwire‘s group MD across EMEA and ANZ. She is responsible for agency’s strategic direction and growth. Alex is an expert in strategic counsel, media relations, crisis comms, international campaign management, and many other disciplines. When not at work, Alex can be found covered in stickers and felt tip with her little ones. Comms students — sit comfortably, take the writing devices of your choice, and start taking notes.
MK: What was your way to the industry?
AML: I started in event management but quickly realised tradeshows weren’t for me. So I applied for a job advertised in the Media Guardian that asked for ‘ambitious and smart people’ (having no idea what it was actually for) and successfully managed to blag a decent answer when they asked me why I wanted to be in PR! How I managed to convince them I was right for the role when I literally had no idea what PR was is still a mystery, but as soon as I realised the salary was enough to cover my student loan I decided to go for it anyway and luckily enough it’s worked out pretty well since then…
What piece of advice, regarding career, would you give your 20-year-old-self?
Take every opportunity you can. To succeed in our line of work you have to see the upside in everything, and if you’re the person who will take on the difficult or boring clients and get amazing results nonetheless, you will go far. There’s no fun or kudos in making an already amazing brand famous – but if you can be part of building a brand, a reputation and a following from nothing, or turning round a dead-end account, that’s where you’ll really stand out. Don’t go for the easy stuff – and don’t stick to what you’ve done before. Keep challenging yourself and the clients and team you work with.
There’s no fun or kudos in making an already amazing brand famous – but if you can be part of building a brand, a reputation and a following from nothing, or turning round a dead-end account, that’s where you’ll really stand out.
How can PR graduates take advantage of the social and digital platforms, in order to gain attention of the agencies and other potential employers?
The competition is so fierce these days it’s scary. There will always be the odd grad who decides to make a name for themselves through some sort of stunt but for most people the rules are simple – go where the employers are, look professional (ditch the ‘wacky’ email address and that sultry profile picture), add value by being intelligent about your comments, shares etc and please please please check your spelling before putting anything online. And don’t forget the real world too – most employers will be far more impressed with someone they’ve met in person so make the most of networking events, trade shows and the like.
Add value by being intelligent about your comments, shares etc and please please please check your spelling before putting anything online.
What is the most undiscovered area in the industry that could be used as a dissertation topic?
Comms is all about people – making connections, sharing ideas and of course the chemistry between the client and the team. One of the things I would love to get a more scientific perspective on is how to get the best fit in terms of team for either a brand or an individual client. So often teams are based on experience, knowledge, expertise or even availability – when actually temperament, personality and passion might be more important. One of the things I strongly believe is that we need to build our agencies entirely around our clients and our team members, and that a cookie-cutter approach to either is doomed to failure. So some insight into new ways to model our account teams and give everyone the best possible experience would be fascinating.
#4PRQs (Four PR Questions) 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!