Meet the team

Meet the team: Berkeley’s account executives on gaining media coverage in lockdown

Written by Claire Slobodian

1 October 2020

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In our latest meet the team blog,  we hear from our four PR account executives – Rebecca Stacey, Keira Buchanan, Megan Knight and Ella Wallace-Browne. All four AEs have been with Berkeley Communications for just over a year, during which time they have managed to deliver stand out media coverage for our clients, even through a lockdown.

Here, they share why they got into the PR industry, how to navigate media relations during a pandemic and their tips for building relationships with journalists – especially when you can’t reach them on the phone. 

What attracted you to a career in PR?

MEGAN: I’ve always been interested in the news and media, and studied journalism at university. I learnt so much, but what it did teach me, particularly in my last year, was that getting a job in journalism was extremely difficult. I began to look at industries connected to journalism and stumbled on PR. After doing more research, I decided that the fast-paced environment of an agency was for me.

KEIRA: In my career search during my final year at university, I ended up having a long and in-depth chat with a family friend who was working as an account executive at a London PR agency. It definitely sounded right up my street. Over a year and a half later and it does not disappoint.

REBECCA: While looking at degrees in journalism, I found another degree which captured my interest instead – PR. My degree gave me the opportunity to work with local non-profit organisations, helping with their social media presence and raising profiles of events – where my love for PR grew.

ELLA: PR is a very social job. It allows you to develop relationships with clients, journalists and colleagues. But you also get the chance to develop content: for social media, bylines or feature commentary. PR is a really great industry for someone who enjoys developing relationships and who thrives when given the opportunity to be creative.

Rebecca Stacey
Rebecca Stacey

Media outreach had to change when everyone started working at home. What did you find the most challenging thing about reaching journalists?

REBECCA: With most office numbers directed to answer phone, it became increasingly important to use other forms of communication such as LinkedIn and Twitter to engage with journalists.

MEGAN: Keeping on top of relationships whilst working remotely has been difficult. With so many journalists not in the office, it hasn’t been as easy as just picking up the phone and offering some news. But I’ve also found that the power of social media has quite quickly become the best way to build a relationship with journalists. Before lockdown, my LinkedIn connections were people I knew from university and school, as well as people from the office but now, it’s full of journalists that I can offer an exclusive.

How did you manage to build up relationships with media during the lockdown?

KEIRA: Patience – this was definitely key. There was also a certain level of understanding between us and the journalists so it was easier to have an open conversation with them – and have a bit of a laugh!

ELLA: Some journalists don’t appreciate getting caught on their mobile, so it was quite tricky to get through to people at times. However, I have found that during lockdown I have actually managed to build better relationships with quite a few journalists and have now got their mobile numbers and a pass to give them a ring whenever.

Keira Buchanan

What are your tips for other account executives looking to get coverage right now?

REBECCA: Reading the news on a regular basis is crucial to have an up-to-date understanding of the industry that your client is trying to engage with. Also, building relationships with journalists is key. Don’t be afraid to try reaching out to journalists using different platforms, such as LinkedIn or Twitter to do that.

MEGAN: Getting coverage now is more crucial than ever before for our clients. Making sure your news is relevant is key. COVID is, unsurprisingly, dominating the news agenda at the moment but finding a story that will pique a journalist’s interest outside of that, I have found, brings the greatest success.

How have you found your first year at Berkeley?

ELLA: Settling in was so easy at Berkeley, and I felt that I was comfortable within the team from very early on. The Berkeley team have a massive part to play in this as everyone is so welcoming. Getting used to clients takes a while, I think that’s because every client is different, and you have to figure out early on what kind of a client you’re working with. There is never a dull moment at Berkeley, and although we’re busy, we’re certainly never bored.

REBECCA: My first year has gone incredibly quickly and I’ve really enjoyed working on a variety of clients covering a range of different industries including cybersecurity, payments, artificial intelligence and hospitality. It has opened my eyes to the exciting world of PR and the media industry.

Megan Knight
Megan Knight

What’s been your most exciting project in your first year here?

MEGAN: Since being at Berkeley, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing and interesting clients, but there is no better feeling than securing your first piece of coverage for a company who otherwise hadn’t had much attention. One of my first accounts was a small start-up, born out of the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire. The client develops software that helps landlords make their properties safe. After six months we had secured multiple pieces of coverage, including with one of the biggest property publications, as well as placements with some of the biggest national broadcasters.

Which piece of coverage are you most proud of, so far?

REBECCA: While there have been lots of pieces of coverage secured for a range of different clients, the piece I am most proud of so far is securing Sky News coverage for my client Kaspersky. The piece was secured for both online and broadcast – the campaign highlighted that even before lockdown, many people throughout the UK have been suffering from loneliness.

KEIRA: My proudest would be the three pieces of national coverage I secured for one comment for my client Talking Talent – Daily Telegraph, City A.M and Yahoo! News. It was really rewarding to work with these three different publications at one time and see all the articles come out in the same week.

ELLA: For me, the piece of coverage I am most proud of is a BBC World Service radio interview I secured for my client Truata. National coverage is always something to be proud of and the fact that it was a broadcast opportunity made this even more special. From this coverage, I now have a great relationship with the journalist, who always loves a chat on the phone.

Ella Wallace-Brown
Ella Wallace-Browne

And finally, who’s your favourite storyteller?

KEIRA: Walt Disney – let’s face it, who doesn’t like watching either Frozen or Moana?

MEGAN: It might be a cliché, and it’s been said time and time before – but the Harry Potter films and books never get old! J K Rowling’s books were some of the first I ever read and hugely inspired my love of stories today.

Would you like to be an account executive at Berkeley Communications?

We’re hiring for account executives. Apply now.