Isabel Thomson-Officer

Isabel Thomson-Officer
Q. Q. Describe your journey in a nutshell (where you started, when you started, how many staff, and your role)
I was a bit of a late bloomer to the world of PR and marketing. I started my working life in hospitality and when I began studying comms, I segued into an inhouse PR and social media management position with the MoVida restaurant group in 2011. Fast forward a few years and upon graduating, I took off for New York City where I landed at lifestyle tech agency ASTRSK PR working on brands like HelloFresh and LANDR while moonlighting as a lifestyle journalist with, and later on the celebrity beat on weekends for Nine Digital. I spent three years working in underground dance music doing PR for DJs and labels as well as managing content teams at music festivals across America, Mexico, Costa Rica, Morocco, Iceland and Portugal — it was an amazing experience! In 2019 I by chance stumbled across Manifest and fell completely in love with the company’s mission, its clients and everything it stood for.

Winding up back in Melbourne in 2020 at the start of the pandemic was completely unplanned but they say everything happens for a reason. Now, here I am as co-founder and managing director of the Group’s first studio in the southern hemisphere.
Q. Q. What do you think your business and your team excel at (areas of expertise)?
It would have to be our ideas. I’ve been here a few years now, and I’m still blown away by the quality of creative that our team right across the Group from Melbourne to New York, Stockholm, London and Manchester put out. If you’re looking for a traditional PR agency then Manifest probably isn’t for you. But if what you want is to change the world with a big creative idea that takes a unified approach across paid, earned, owned and shared, then you’ve come to the right place.
Q. Q. What brands are you currently working with?
Tommee Tippee, Dettol’s b2b arm of the business Dettol Pro Solutions, Lounge Lovers, and KAIJU! Beer.
Q. Q. What’s a recent campaign you are super proud of because you either came up with a big creative idea; worked with a minimal budget; or exceeded expectations?
The work we’ve done across the Group with Tommee Tippee is a best-in-class example of what we do at Manifest. #The Boob Life has won numerous awards since its launch in February 2021. Our team in Melbourne secured blanket coverage for it in Australia completely smashing expectations across the globe. We’ve got more in store for them so watch this space!

Creating the world’s first orgasm Richter scale with Hot Octopuss and leading sex neuroscientist Dr Nan Wise was also pretty cool, as was the recent press campaign we oversaw for KAIJU! Beer’s first ever brewpub which opened earlier in February.
Q. Q. What are the greatest challenges the industry is currently facing?
In Australia, I would say it is diversity and inclusion both of teams and of the work the industry puts out. I think we have a long way to go to better reflect what the nation actually looks like when it comes to recruitment and in creative campaigns. It’s improving but still not where it should be. Too much emphasis is put on a linear path into the industry too. Who says you have to have a degree to work in advertising, branding or comms? Diverse teams and experience lead to diversity of thought which leads to better, more impactful creative work. It’s a no brainer, honestly.
Q. Q. What’s your greatest career achievement to date?
Opening Manifest’s Melbourne studio. I’m really proud of what our team has achieved in this corner of the world against the backdrop of a really challenging environment. I’m grateful for the trust that was placed in me by the CEO and Board to give this a crack. Just over 12 months later and we’re working with some of Australia’s most exciting and biggest brands. I can’t wait to see where things are in another year let alone five.
Q. Q. And your worst disaster!
Very early on in my career I used the ‘cc’ not the ‘bcc’ email function. That is a mistake you will only make once!
Q. Q, What’s the best (and unusual) personal tip of yours that young PRs should know when embarking on a career?
Take clients on the journey. Especially those that might be first time founders who haven’t worked with an agency or hired an inhouse PR manager before. Not everyone gets what we do or understands the worth of our work so it’s our job to guide and educate them. Keeping people up to date on the status of a lead all the way through to fruition will make people better understand what it is you do, the blood sweat and tears that went into securing a feature and in turn, will make them value you and what it is you are doing for them more.
Q. Q. What’s next for you & the business?
I’ve just wrapped up my tenth MBA subject with RMIT so will be graduating in June after two years studying part-time. I understand now why people take time off to do these and don’t decide to start a business at the same time…

We have our annual unconference this May in Athens where 70+ Manifestees from all of our studios across the Group will get together and talk about the year ahead. It’s been a long time coming doing this in person (2019 in Madrid was the last one) so we’re all really looking forward to catching up and getting some much-needed in person time together. It’s a huge part of who we are as an agency and it’s going to be a really special time.

In Melbourne, our team is growing. We’ve just started hiring for a Senior Account Manager (if this sounds like you and you’re reading this, drop me a line). I’m really looking forward to welcoming a new member to the Mani-Mel-fam sometime very soon!
Q. Your Socials: (Email / Instagram/Twitter) | @missizzyofficer on IG and Twitter | @manifest_mel on IG and @manifestmel on Twitter