My Work in PRogress this week is the fabulous Beth Nunnington, PR Director at Journey Further.
Beth is one of the key people that comes to mind when I think of people who know their shit when it comes to PR. Always open to sharing her knowledge, particularly in her hugely insightful PR videos, Beth is passionate about creating meaningful PR coverage for her clients, beyond just building links.
In this issue, we chatted about making your PR work harder, and my favourite topic of conversation – book recommendations!
What is your ultimate shower song? (The song you can give a 10/10 Grammy-worthy performance of in your shower on a Saturday morning).
To be honest any song from The Greatest Showman soundtrack (aka the best film ever made), but in particular This Is Me by Keala Settle.
It’s the album I always play before speaking at an event, or more recently doing webinars, as I find it really motivating. Bit cringe, but true!
What advice do you give to people on your team when they make mistakes?
Learn from them but don’t agonise and spend days beating yourself up about it as that’s not healthy, or helpful.
“Everyone needs to make mistakes because it can be the best way to learn.”
I would ask them to think about what processes they could put in place to ensure that mistake didn’t happen again, and also offer support or even training if that was what they felt was required.
What advice have you been given that has stuck with you throughout your career so far?
Firstly, that it’s PR, not ER! PR is fast paced, especially in an agency and often an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows but it’s important not to get bogged down if a campaign or a press release hasn’t got any results. Remember, you don’t have to try and take everything on your own, even if it is your account.
“Take a breather, and share problems with other team members, to get objective opinions.”
Secondly, to think like a journalist, and also a client. As PRs we are often the go-between our client and the journalists, and it’s important to put ourselves in both their shoes, in order to develop strong relationships and get the results we want. Both are likely to be busy people, with limited capacity, so it’s important all comms be succinct, honest and useful.
Finally, always ask why? Why is this story going to resonate with the journalist, why will our target audience want to read it? Why is this relevant? If you can answer those questions you’re good to go, but if you ever question why you’re doing a piece of activity, then the likelihood is you shouldn’t be.
I love how you talk about not just using digital PR as a mechanic to build links. For those who want to make their PR coverage work a little harder, how would you suggest getting in that mindset when it comes to coming up with ideas?
Ah, thank you, it’s something I am very passionate about. I guess my answer before about asking why is really key here, but in addition to asking yourself ‘why would my target audience care’, it’s also very useful to use data that may be available to you. For example, a display advert report will show you the publications your in-market audience visit after they have been on your client’s website. Not only does that inform your media list, but also the content that they are interested in. If their target audience has several tech publications in their report, then clearly content around technology is likely to be relevant, and of interest to them.
Also, it’s worth focusing on the keywords, products and services, that a client wants to rank for, and to brainstorm around them. Sounds really obvious, but I see a lot of digital PR campaigns that get lots of traction, but have little to do with what the client actually does.
Don’t forget brands often have a lot of useful data and insight a journalist is crying out for. Whether that’s sales data to inform trends or senior stakeholders that can give comment on topical stories using their expertise. You can’t get much more relevant than that!
As a fellow lover of reading, what three personal development books would you recommend reading?
I think for me personally the following top 3 have been the most impactful:
- Radical Candour – Kim Scott. A great book, especially for those in management. She focuses on the importance of ‘caring personally whilst challenging directly’ and I believe it’s improved my leadership skills as a result.
- Atomic Habits – James Clear. I know this has been one of the favourite reads so far for a lot of people in the [Journey Further] book club, mainly because it is so clear and actionable. If you struggle to get into a good routine, and stick to good habits – in both your personal and work life – this is for you.
- The Messy Middle – Scott Belsky. I haven’t finished this (it’s pretty big) but I read extracts, which are very useful in providing guidance on running a business and navigating the challenges that come with it.”
Finally, what does being a ‘work in progress’ mean to you, both professionally, and personally?
Professionally, it means continuing to push myself, whether that’s learning more about wider marketing channels, improving my business acumen or taking on bigger challenges such as presenting at a larger scale speaking event. It has been almost two years since we started the PR, SEO and Influencer Marketing side of Journey Further and I want to really focus on future growth, and explore new and exciting opportunities. As part of that, I’m keen to absorb as much knowledge and information as possible, through books, podcasts and online articles. It’s just being strict on myself and finding the headspace to do so!
Personally, I know I need to get better at switching off and being present within my social life (i.e not glued to my mobile phone!). I’ve recently bought my first house and so am enjoying decorating and making it my own. I’m finding being able to throw myself into practical jobs such as gardening has helped a lot.
“Who knew I would fall in love with plants!?!”
Lockdown has taught me the importance of being around my boyfriend, friends, and family, and when restrictions are lifted I am going to do my best to leave my phone at home (or at least firmly in my handbag!) and try to really appreciate the moment a lot more.