Work in PRogress – Issue #2 – Alex Hickson

My Work in PRogress this week is someone that I knew I wanted to interview for as long as I’ve known I’ve wanted to do the newsletter. Alex Hickson is a digital PR executive at Edit, based in Leeds, and though we’ve yet to meet in person, Alex is one of those great people who is always brightening up my Twitter timeline.

Always open to sharing tips and truths on Twitter (as well as a banging cheesy pop playlist), Alex stands out to me as someone who is always there to support and lift others in the industry, as well as being shit-hot at digi PR.

And as if I needed one more reason to rave about Alex – when I asked him if he would take part in this interview – he already had a picture of him wearing a ‘work in progress’ t-shirt.

What a dream.

What is your ultimate shower song? (The song you can give a 10/10 Grammy-worthy performance on in your shower on a Saturday morning).

Ooooh this is a tough one. If I’m wanting an absolute belter then it’s got to be ‘The Promise’ by Girls Aloud, full emphasis on the key change at the end. If I want a bit of a dance as well then it’s ‘On a Night Like This’ by Kylie.

A certified noughties bop that anyone can try their hand at. Safe to say I’m probably one of the worst singers to walk the earth, but if you’re gonna do it, then do it properly…

What’s your favourite campaign that you’ve ever worked on?

Ooh, I would say my ‘Festive Drinks’ campaign that I ran for a weight loss surgery client. It wasn’t the most mind-blowing of concepts, but it was the first campaign that I had full ownership of. There was a client-side delay on a larger campaign, so it was a fast reactive piece where I looked at the sugar intake in the high-street coffee chains Christmas drink menus, and ranked by sugar content (some had 2.5 times the recommended daily amount!) then pushed it out.

It ended up going live just as a similar campaign from a charity launched, but instead of scrapping it, I jumped on the back of it and managed to secure about 100 media placements on international sites. I’m proud because it’s difficult to get my client talked about positively in the media due to the nature of their product-focus, and it was a massive success with a full turnaround in about 48 hours!

What are your 3 golden rules for outreaching to journalists?

Always put yourself in their shoes before sending it. Take a break, go back to it and then read your email start to finish. Are you excited reading it? Can you pick out the hook straight away? If there’s even a slight inkling of a ‘no’, then go back to the drawing board. You aren’t going to capture their attention either!

“Don’t be afraid to get creative. Some of the best connections I’ve made with journalists are over social media, or just by opening a dialogue separately.”

Don’t be afraid of tearing up the ‘press release’ formula and going with something different.

Always tailor your email. I hate bulk sending anything. Even if it’s just to tweak the headline or the opening lines, a tailored approach to a select number of journalists I find works far better than a mass email to loads of them.

What do you love about your job?

I love how creative it is, and I love that it relies on being on the pulse of news, trends and popular culture.

“I always get a bit of a weird thrill when I’m working on a campaign that is ever-changing due to a breaking news story, it feels like you’re really doing something innovative.”

I love the freedom I have as well, especially with the agency I’m at now. I feel really lucky to genuinely be doing something that I love every day, and that there’s always a great craic with everyone I work with.

Finally, what does being a work in progress mean to you?

Professionally, I think it means understanding that perfection is unattainable and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I’m still pretty new to the PR game, so I just enjoy soaking up the knowledge of everyone around me, seeing what suits me and my ‘style’ and applying that and hoping it works. I’ve had ideas that have done really well and also some that have completely tanked – but at least I’m learning from them all! I’m a great believer of just picking yourself up and thinking “Ahh well, we go again.”

Personally, I think accepting I’m a ‘work in progress’ has helped me let go of a lot of anxieties and expectations of myself I used to hold. I do have a bit of a ‘fuck it’ attitude now, I’m just doing the best I can for myself, family and my pals – and I just think that there’s always room for improvements in every aspect of your life, and likelihood is you can’t win ‘em all, so don’t beat yourself up if you miss a gym session, or cancel plans with mates. Just do what’s right for you right now.

To keep up with Alex’s wonderful positivity, PR wisdom and love for cheesy tunes, you can follow him on Twitter here.

To catch up on previous issues of Work in PRogress click here, or read previous interviews here.

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