The world of PR has had no shortage of assumptions and glamorized movies, making young graduates dream of living that dream ‘PR lifestyle’- attending premiers and wearing designer samples.
But is that really the reality? Or have the likes of ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘The Hills’ painted a picture that isn’t quite what it seems?
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with the gorgeous Rachel Collister, Senior Account Executive at one of Melbourne’s top PR firms Kate & Co. PR– and get an inside glimpse into her PR journey, the lessons she has learned along the way, and how the team has overcome the challenge of the last 3 months.
How did your journey into PR begin?
Thinking back now my journey into PR began back in high school. I was always interested in the events industry, however, I decided not to pursue this in university, instead choosing to do a Bachelor of Arts majoring in History and International Studies. I quickly learnt that although I found both topics fascinating, it wasn’t what I wanted to pursue as a career. I always had a natural love for fashion and knew I wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry, so during my undergraduate degree, I spent my time pursuing many internships within the fashion industry. I interned in the marketing, sales, PR, events departments for an abundance of brands, agencies, event companies…you name it!
I wanted to absorb as much experience and information as possible to prepare me for when I started working full time. Once I finished my undergraduate, I decided I needed some qualification in communications, so I decided to embark on completing a Masters in Marketing at RMIT.
It was during this time that I got my first full-time job for a Melbourne based fashion label, ending up running the Marketing & PR department. In this role I learnt a lot, however, I quickly learnt that working in-house wasn’t for me. I craved the hustle and frenetic energy of the agency world. Kate & Co. PR was always on my list of dream places to work, so when I got the call for an interview and eventually landed the job, I knew I was home. I have never looked back, and PR has truly hooked me forever.
What’s the best thing about working for Kate & Co. PR?
Although it may sound cliché I adore working with such inspiring and successful women on a daily basis. It truly is such a team effort when bringing a campaign or event to life. You constantly rely on the advice, support, and laughs from your team. We truly are a family and it really is one team one dream at Kate & Co. PR.
I would also have to say the feeling you get when you secure a piece of coverage for your client is indescribable. Every time I achieve a piece of coverage, whether it is a feature in an online blog or a front cover of a major metro newspaper, each win is just as good as the last.
What campaign has been your favourite to work on, and why?
I am fortunate enough at the agency to work on many national clients and amazing campaigns, including Coles supermarkets, Lexus and Melbourne Fashion Week (M/FW), however, my favourite campaign to date was being able to work across the Australian Turf Club’s Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival this year.
Although inevitably cut short by COVID-19, we were still able to kick off the Carnival with a bang at Royal Randwick back in March. This day came after months and months of planning, and there is truly nothing more rewarding than seeing an event come to life before your eyes and being able to enjoy that with your team.
It has been a challenging few months, to say the least, how have you and team thrived during this time and continued representing your clients?
I have been incredibly proud of the entire Kate & Co. PR team for continuing to work hard and go above and beyond for their clients over the last three months. As with most Australians, when COVID-19 hit we all had to work from home, as well as quickly re-strategizing and pivoting where possible for all our clients at the agency to ensure we still achieved media cut through and supported all our clients through the challenging circumstances.
There have been a number of things we implemented to make sure the whole team felt supported and remained positive during this time. This included daily meetings with the whole team providing us with the opportunity to check in with each other, weekly yoga sessions via Zoom, implementing a daily gratitude challenge rolled out on the Kate & Co. PR socials, as well as our end of week wine times where we share our personal and professional wins for the week.
As restrictions begin to ease – what future campaigns are you most excited about?
I am incredibly excited to get to work across the Melbourne Cup Carnival this year across the Lexus account. Although this year may look a little different, it has always been a career goal of mine to work across the Spring Racing Carnival, so I cannot wait to for November to roll around and secure some great wins, as well as great memories, with the team.
What advice would you give anyone who would like a career in PR?
My two pieces of advice would be to hustle and to network. Although PR can seem like a glamourous career from the outside (which it definitely is at times), it can certainly be a gruelling and demanding job. There are plenty of long days and late nights, early mornings sometimes jumping on a 6am flight to Sydney combined with pitching big campaigns, and sometimes feeling like there is rejection after rejection.
You have to go into this industry open-minded, knowing that there are the highest high’s, and sometimes lowest lows. You can’t be afraid to constantly hustle and work hard to achieve the results you want, and in the end, the hustle is always worth it. PR is all about the networks and relationships you have, with influencers, journalists, stylists, presenters, media and so on. Formulating relationships within the industry is incredibly valuable and will make you a better PR for it.
Go to quote to live by?
I am not sure they are quotes per se; however, I live by two mantras; you cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude, and if you want something hard enough, go out and get it. It is so easy, especially in this industry to face the risk of burnout or disappointment, however, it is up to you to choose how you respond to any given situation.
I always try and adopt a positive mentality (although challenging at times) and focus on the good and not the bad. Also, I have always been a hustler! If you really want something in life, don’t sit back and wait for something to happen.
You have to tackle the challenge head-on and create the life you want to live.