Work in PRogress – Issue #4 – Jess Pardoe

My Work in PRogress this week is the wonderful Jess Pardoe. Jess is a PR & Digital Media Account Executive at Source PR, and one of my favourite people to follow online for all things PR.

Jessica’s blog is the first place I head to for insights and tips on PR and comms, as well as for her always-enjoyable and super speedy write-ups of big brand PR fails (or wins!), and what we can learn from these.

In this issue, I pick Jess’ brain to find out the campaigns and PR stunts she’s loving at the moment, her top tips for PR newbies, and what being a work in progress means to her…

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).

Oh, 100% I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker by Sandi Thom, that song often makes me think I have a good singing voice (I don’t).

What are some of your favourite campaigns or PR stunts that you have seen recently? 

There’s been some really strong reactions to the Coronavirus outbreak in particular (and not much else), it’s really hard to market at the moment and can be considered insensitive to try and run PR campaigns whilst there’s a pandemic. There’s definitely a line and there are some brands who have handled this really well.

Chester Zoo going virtual has to be my favourite, then there’s Brewdog who have started using their distilleries to make hand sanitizer for the NHS.

Another one I LOVED which was unfortunately not created by Netflix, but by the Miami Ad School, was when Netflix spoilers were plastered on billboards in a bid to get people to stay home; it was so creative. More recently, there’ve been a few smaller-scale but nevertheless wonderful campaigns that have caught my eye. For example, The National Trust encouraging a UK-wide #BlossomWatch that aimed to bring the traditional Japanese custom of Hanami to England and spread some positivity.

There was NASA Hubble 30 releasing a tool where you could see what it captured on a certain year of your birth date (I’m a massive space nerd so this ticked all my boxes); and then there’s Pornhub, who are perhaps my favourite brand for link building, releasing consistent updates to the population on how they are fairing amidst the pandemic. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that by-the-by, their traffic has gone up rather a lot. 

What are your top tips for a newbie PR starting out in the industry?

Start a blog, create a LinkedIn and make a dedicated Twitter account if you can, that way you can meet plenty of likeminded people who can help with your personal development; but who may also be able to kick start your career.

“My top tip, and one I could sing about until the cows come home is to PR yourself.”

I’ve never gone through a traditional route for any of my jobs (apply > interview > get the job), they’ve always come off the back of making connections with people and then taking it from there.

Another tip I would give, which kind of comes off the back of my first piece of advice, is to keep abreast with the industry. Take in and appreciate what others are doing, and learn from it. Whether that’s keeping an eye out on your favourite campaigns (and maybe even writing about them, if you fancy trying your hand at a blog) or simply following and engaging with people who’ll share industry insights – we’re a very open industry and learning from one and other is the best way to go.

Which big brands do you think are coming off well (PR-wise) in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic? 

The brands that are coming off the best, are the brands who are doing things to help.

“When you can’t sell products the next best thing to do is to sell yourself.”

The IPA released a very timely ad in the Financial Times this weekend just gone. It read: When others go quiet, your voice gets louder. I couldn’t agree more with that.

Just because you can’t market directly at the minute, it doesn’t mean you should disappear altogether. There’s nothing wrong with lying low (especially if you don’t have anything relevant to say at the moment), but if you can find a way to join in on the conversation and support the nationwide or global efforts going into tackling Coronavirus, then you should definitely try. That doesn’t necessarily mean directly producing PPE or sanitising products either, not every brand will have capacity for that. It could be helping to support a local charity or fundraiser, perhaps providing educational tools for children who aren’t at school at the minute, or adults who’ve lost their jobs – it could even be as simple as offering means of escapism for the general public (kind of like what National Trust have done with their #BlossomWatch campaign).

“Brands will be remembered for doing the right (and also the wrong) thing when all of this is over.”

Brands who have particularly stood out to me include: Brewdog, Chester Zoo, ITV, Heinz, National Trust, The Body Shop and more.

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

I’m really quite ‘new’ into my professional career and consequently, I’ve never had a bigger appetite for education. Perhaps even more so now than when I was back in school. I’ve found a career I love and therefore want to learn as much about it as possible.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be done with learning.”

Whilst in lockdown I’ve been doing lots of reading and taking new courses, namely several of the MOZ online courses. I’ve also applied for a Diploma in Psychology (something I may come to regret) as this is something I’m really interested in, and I think having a knowledge of the brain and how it perceives certain situations will probably give me quite a leg up in the marketing industry too. Psychology and comms are two things that are very closely aligned.

TL;DR I don’t think I’ll ever be done with learning, and that’s what being a work in progress means to me.

You can keep up with Jess on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or check out her wonderful PR blog here.

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

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