Still sexy after all these years?


This is an article by Adele Roberts.
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Katherine Shenton

During her first year as a PR student, Katherine Shenton wrote a blog post called “So you want to work in sexy, star studded PR?” (It’s still one of the most popular posts on my PR Studies blog, ed). That was back in 2004.

Is PR as glamorous as it’s often made out to be?

“PR may have the reputation of being glamorous, but it is not the case. You need to be hard-working, prepared to work long-hours, start from the bottom and work your way up and continue your learning as the industry and channels available are ever changing,” she tells me.

Katherine graduated in 2006 with a First Class Honours degree from Leeds Metropolitan University. She has since won “CIPR PRide North East Outstanding Young Communicator of the Year 2010” and “CIPR PRide North East Best Freelance Practitioner of the Year 2011”.

During her time at Leeds Met Katherine undertook a number of regular placements with agencies such as Citigate Smarts, Golley Slater and Ketchum.

She also took it upon herself to approach small businesses and offer to do PR for them on an unpaid basis; this experience helped her gain plenty of portfolio items to choose from during her time at university. A combination of Katherine’s First Class degree and large amount of ‘real’ client experience has led her to amazing success during the six years that she has been working in the industry.

The bottom line

I asked for her favourite thing about working in the PR industry:

“As you work your way up in the industry you discover that in PR you really can make a difference to the bottom line – this has been my biggest incentive as it’s not just about page views, likes, followers or number of cuttings it is about what difference you have made for that brand and how you have helped generate new business enquiries or sales.”

I asked Katherine for any advice she could provide for success in the industry, she told me, it’s about hard work and understanding everything before looking for promotion. She also said to keep current (checking Twitter etc.) and to remember that “the PR industry is smaller than you think and you never know when you’ll need to rely on someone or need their help so treat everybody with respect and be helpful, even if you’re busy or stressed as this will be remembered.”

Katherine has seen first hand the changes that have occurred working in the PR industry, “especially the development and importance of social media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr etc.”

There have also been changes that have occurred because of  the recession. “Clients and agencies are a lot more lean and conscious of costs. As a result budgets are smaller so you have to be smarter and more efficient, this is also a reason why I think social media channels have grown as they are relatively cheap to manage compared to large scale events.”

Geordie Shore, a ratings success

Currently Katherine is working freelance as a publicist for MTV’s ‘Geordie Shore’, a campaign she is proud of.

“I worked with the team to promote the show and the cast to drive people to watch the show. This paid off as it is MTV UK’s highest ratings show…ever!”

Katherine also told me about her favourite campaign to date. She described transforming brand Maddi Alexander from a candle brand sold solely online to an expansion to an entire body collection, which is now being sold in Fortnum & Mason as well as being featured in ‘Stylist’s Hot Picks’!

Freelance ups and downs

I asked about the pros and cons of working freelance, as she herself had left an agency to start her own consultancy. She told me: “Working freelance is great is some respects, you have complete control of your day, what hours you work… You also feel closer to companies than you do in an agency as you really are viewed as working for them in a different location. However there are some negatives such as the difficultly in taking holiday, you have to be extremely disciplined to get things done and on time and you have to be able to work by yourself.”

Finally I asked Katherine if when starting her degree she ever envisioned her success to be so great so soon, her answer was so humble, and just reminded me of how much the little things really do matter in PR…

“I think if you just put in the hard work the rest will follow. You can’t be too focused on success or winning awards as you then take your eye off the ball and your job, which is detrimental. I always had a rough idea of where I wanted to be when, and of course I hoped I might pick up an award along the way. I feel exceptionally lucky to be where I am and to be doing what I’m doing, but I know I have got here by putting the hours in and doing the best I can.”

After all people will always remember you for the relationship you have built with them and the impression you have left them with.

Comments

  1. Sound advice Katherine!

  2. Kat is a great example of somebody who doesn’t just go air kissing her way through the industry and actually cares about the people she comes into contact with. She deserves every bit of success and is also, I’m told by a possibly biased source, a cake baker of quite some talent…

  3. Fantastic interview, Adele.

    Katherine offers some real insights on taking the plunge and going it alone as a freelancer.

    It’s always great to see a fellow graduate of the Leeds Met PR course doing well too 🙂

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