Q&A with Young PR Pro of the Year
This post is the eight Q&A in an ongoing series looking at the usual Social Web Thing discussion topics of PR, social media and employability. I’m delighted that Ben Matthews, Programme Manager at 33 Digital and Founder of Bright One has taken the time to have a chat with us.
Ben has had a fantastic year, rising through the ranks at 33 Digital and Bright One, a volunteer-run communications agency for the Third Sector has gone from strength to strength. He is also a board member of Charity Comms, the professional body for charity sector communications and founding member of Twestival, so it comes as no surprise to hear that Ben won Young PR Professional of the Year – a thoroughly deserved accolade. In short, Ben is a great example to any young person looking to break into and thrive in the PR industry.
1. As a Programme Manager, what does your role involve on a daily basis?
I make sure that the digital PR campaigns that our clients have planned are put into action and made a success according to the objectives, and beyond. This goes right up to ensure that the client is happy with the work and is portrayed successfully to their internal stakeholders, right across to our own teams and making sure we are performing to the best of our ability and getting things done.
2. What’s it like to work at 33 Digital and how does it vary from the other positions you have had?
I’ve been part of the Hotwire (parent owner of 33 Digital) family for a while now and it’s been one of the more rewarding and enjoyable experiences in my career to date. The company has a fantastic culture despite being just a year old, with a professionalism and underlying confidence in our approach that has led to some of the most major brands around coming onto our client roster.
3. What attracted you to the social media side of communications?
Social media has many parallels with traditional PR – building relationships, having a good story at the heart of the campaign, being human – but social media seems to bring out the best of all sides of PR. Social media really belongs with a PR role and our industry is doing a good job of proving why we are best at managing this side of comms.
4. You’re well known in the PR industry as the founder of Bright One, how did this come about?
As with a lot of ideas, Bright One started due to frustration. In this case it was the frustration that there a lot of people and third sector organisations out there doing some amazing work and helping a lot of people, but for some reason – whether it is through a lack of expertise, time or resources – these organisations haven’t been able to communicate what they do as effectively as other charitable organisations.
5. How can people get involved with Bright One?
It’s best to go to our website, fund out more and sign up if you’re interested! http://brightone.org.uk/
6. How did it feel to win Young PR Professional of the Year and what did you do to win this accolade?
It was a fantastic evening, tinged only by the fact that 33 Digital didn’t win New Agency of the Year. I’m sure 33’s time will come again. I really couldn’t have done it without the support of my peers, but there’s more beyoond this award that I want to achieve and this is just the beginning!
7. You seem to be one of those at the forefront of the London digital scene, what are the main advantages of online PR vs. traditional PR?
Digital PR is more measurable, ultimately – especially if campaigns are tied back to business objectives such as sales or raised awareness.
8. Should graduates bring a hard copy portfolio to a PR interview? What do you think about e-portfolios?
A hard copy is essential as it gives a “leave behind” for professionals to loom through afterwards. A follow up email after the interview with a link to an e-portfolio would work well, almost like a “digital leave behind”. At the end of the day, the person is the one who needs to impress, not the portfolio.
9. As we look ahead to 2011, what more can be done to convince clients of the benefit of social media? (ROI, evaluation, sales etc)
As above, tied closely with business objectives.
10. What 3 tips would you give to someone trying to land a social media role?
1. Network (online and off) and don’t be afraid to contact someone directly even if you’ve never met them – people are willing to help more than you think.
2. Get on,one and comfortable with using digital tools, If you can;t use them personally, you won’t be able to offer consultancy to clients
3. Go for an area of comms you are passionate in. The most successful people I know align their passions with their expertise.
I would like to put on record my thanks to Ben for sharing his thoughts with us and wish him all the best for another great year. An ever increasing number of students I speak to say they want to work for a PR agency that specialises in social media so i’m sure they will find this Q&A insightful. I’d also like to thank the students, industry colleagues and academics from all over the country who sent me the questions to put to Ben.