After a pretty cool career as an entertainment publicist over 18 years working at FOXTEL, Turner Entertainment Hong Kong, Sony Music Australia and then Network 10, I started freelancing when my first son was 6 weeks old! I didn’t want to go back to full time work with a baby and the opportunity to freelance with my friend and favourite David Campbell on a tour was offered, I weighed up the pros and cons and the rest was history. Fast forward 14 years, 2 more babies, husband joining agency 10 years ago and a whole lot of good and bad - we are a full service communications & management agency with a steady team of 8 working with some incredible brands and companies including long term retainer clients.
Q. What brands and talent are you currently working with?
Jenny Craig, Universal Brand Development, Wynstan Awnings & Blinds, DIVCom (Food trade shows), MGA Entertainment (toys), Code Camp, Cluey Learning, and talent including Maria Thattil, Osher Gunsberg, Mitch Tambo, Bella Management Models, Deb & Andy from the Block, Jordy Lucas.
Q. I know it’s like choosing a favourite child, but has there been a client in your career that you’ve particularly adored working with?
Universal Brand Development for sure. We are so lucky to have fantastic clients (we honestly have some long term beautiful relationships with many including Wynstan) but Universal are like family. We have worked with them from when my 10 year old daughter was born and I consider them friends. Not to mention its pretty cool working with Poppy from Trolls, Minions, Jurassic World and my kids LOVE the VIP access!
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?
We spearheaded the Jessica Rowe Celebrity led campaigns for the Butcher channel for Meat & Livestock Australia in 2019. The brief was heading towards working with a chef however we came back with an alternative response with Jess as our No. 1 recommendation. As a Craphouse wife myself, who goes to a butcher for the quality but the pre-prepared and marinated meals, I just knew this was the way to go. This ended up being a fantastic relationship with several ideations of the partnership over 3 years, we managed to keep it fresh each time, manage some pretty cool events in the mix, nailing the key messages and objectives and well Jess was just the best partner to work with – we are now working with her directly managing partnerships for her new cookbook.
Q. What’s your greatest career achievement to date?
I would have to say running a well respected agency, while retaining long term team members and clients, all while raising my 3 kids. Retaining and maintaining key accounts long term is not easy (nor is retaining great staff) but I do it, and love it. We are also very much I would think leaders in the kids & family space managing 100s of influencer campaigns for Universal and our toy clients monthly and feel we lead the charge there – we do see other business and agencies following
Q. And what has been your worst disaster!
In the early days of my husband joining we had a couple of times with very ‘tricky’ touring and music clients and it was a nightmare, - they and the talent were so demanding and full on and we had two different times where our internet/ phones weren’t working, (and once we were away with our 3 kids who were babies at the time and had no phone service or wifi) and the clients were screaming and carrying on about this that and the other (no one was dying btw).
In one of the instances we were running up and down the road in Mornington in Victoria trying to find a café with free internet (rare in those days) and phone service so we could manage the job. If only people could see us – crying babies, no phones, screaming at each other all while the phone wasn’t stopping – was so stressful. We got there in the end! How I manage it – our kids are teens/ tweens now so its fine, however for a long time I’d decide whether or not to take on a client on whether I thought they were family friendly. Insert Covid and everyone now is so much more flexible and understanding re the home life juggle! Thank goodness.
Also, one of our first celebrity led campaigns years ago, we kicked off with a TV piece, the client was so excited she came to the studio to watch! The show (who are always fabulous!) had all questions in, the key ‘plug’ however the plug question was at the end, and due to some chit chat, the hosts ran out of time! OMG. It was the worst. The talent was horrified and was literally waiting for the question the whole time – so the opportunity was lost. Unfortunately nothing we could do about that moment, but we did secure a follow up TV piece and from then on in I’m always NERVOUS with TV even all these years later and when I can request the plug up the top just in case!
Q. What makes you tear your hair out in our industry?
At the moment its negotiating and managing expectations from both ends with talent & influencer partnerships – particularly influencer partnerships. There is such a vast difference with all agencies on their expectations, how they work and what they will approve on client campaigns, and brands often want a lot for their investment in regards to usage etc, so I do find that a little hairy! Especially if the client uses an image that wasn’t in the initial agreement and then the talent want more $$. When we negotiate on behalf of our talent, we are pretty lenient as we want what’s best for both parties but its not always the way others roll!!
Q. What are you predictions for the future of our industry for 2023 and beyond?
Not a prediction but I’m hoping that with print making a comeback, that more traditional media outlets will. Its tough out there for touring artists & entertainment as there is literally no space for them. Likewise for other clients and we miss it! The industry is definitely being influencer/collaboration led more than traditional media I feel – however I still love print media and pitching and securing traditional media stories. I really hope more opportunities open up in the space and we can get back to good old journo/ PR relationship building where we can pick up a phone and chat through ideas and create an exciting feature together. I had a great chat with Tiff Dunk from Australian Women’s Weekly today brainstorming a feature and it was heaven! The journos we’ve had in our books forever are fine, but its harder and harder to build those pick up the phone relationships with new contacts.
Q. What’s the best or most unusual personal tip of yours that young PRs should know when embarking on a career, that you wish you knew when you started?
It was different when I started as not so many channels TBH (do you remember the transparency libraries for imagery – yes I’m that old!), however for young PRs, my advice is while you no doubt have an interest in a certain area, make sure you learn and get exposure to all areas of communication. Understanding and learning traditional media channels, working with them and pitching takes time – you need to read, understand and live it – so take the time and learn the various tactics rather than sticking to your lane. No, you don’t know everything – none of us do. The industry changes so quickly you’ve got to be nimble. I’m working with one of my Account Execs now who is fab in the social and influencer space, to really teach her slowly and thoroughly all things Account Management and media relations and she’s loving it and so am I!
Q. What’s next for you & the business?
This year I have two of my team members on maternity leave for a bit, so we are going to work through that and continue to look for new opportunities for our clients, and attract new business also. I may grow the talent side of the business, but I want to settle in after Olivia and Tash have gone on Maternity leave before I take on more than we can chew! Watch this space. For me personally, I want to focus on slowing down, my health and wellness and enjoying and nurturing the fabulous company that I’ve built and am super proud of.
Q. If you weren’t in PR, what would you be doing?
This is a tough question!!! Not sure I have what it takes BUT I would LOVE to be a forensic detective or PI. I love people who killed it in documentaries and forensic type TV shows and think in another life I’d hunt down serial killers! Or be a criminal lawyer (I actually almost went down that path and was a paralegal when I was in my early 20s). Now I’m older, I would love to do something to create change like the journalists at the New York Post (I just watched She Said) who took down Weinstein!!