Kathryn Elliott | Account Director | Lahra Carey Media and Communications | Melbourne PR

Lessons Learnt Across The Journey

As communications experts we spend a great deal of our professional lives promoting the successful projects and campaigns we have worked on. It’s a highly competitive industry and one that can be unforgiving.

 

Having worked in PR consultancies for over 15 years I can honestly say that I have learnt more from the mistakes I have made than the successes. Here are a few of my most memorable lessons across the journey:

 

  • Are you a PR consultant or a conslutant? Yes we all know about this one and you guessed it…..I pressed ‘send’ on the email and then realized that the ‘latter’ was included in my title to over 50 media contacts. I decided to get on the front foot straight away with a follow-up email apologizing and highlighting my mistake. A few people saw the humour in it and shared with me that this was by no means an isolated incident, quite the opposite and in fact, a regular occurrence. So instead of leaving the world of consultancy and hoping to never encounter this problem again I made a solemn promise to myself to ensure all emails/written communication, particularly to media were proofed and double-proofed.
  • In one of the first new business meetings I went to as a young practitioner I was caught off guard and totally unprepared. I’d anticipated that I’d only have to sit through the meeting and take notes. Instead the potential client asked me some questions about his business and it was evident very quickly that I hadn’t done my background research. Although embarrassing at the time it was a great lesson for me to ensure I adequately prepared before attending new business meetings.
  • Managing events is stressful. There is no getting away from that fact. But there is good stress and bad stress and being nervous is all part of the adrenalin rush. One of the first major events I managed was a huge Easter Egg Hunt in Melbourne and the event was so successful that too many people turned up including some very competitive and nasty parents. It wasn’t the children we had to worry about but the parents who were fighting over the eggs. The next year we held the event we made sure it was only open to children and kept the parents away. You can always change things to improve your event next time even when the things that go wrong can be totally unexpected.
  • Budgeting and managing finances is a large part of your role as a PR consultant. I learnt the hard way that once a budget is signed off by a client it is approved. I made an error on a project budget that had it costed at $1,000 instead of $10,000 and once I realised the mistake the client played hardball. The initial quote had to be honoured and of course the project ended up being totally unprofitable and a constant reminder of my mistake.
  • Since becoming a mum to three children the line between home and the office has sometimes blurred. I went back to work very quickly after having my first two children and so was trying to breastfeed/keep up my supply of milk whilst working. This involved taking a breast pump to work to express at least twice a day. Let’s just say it wasn’t a great look when I ran into a meeting and whilst trying to pull my phone and diary out of my bag the breast pump flew out and fell on to the receptionist’s desk, dripping milk all over her keyboard. A highly awkward moment and one that highlighted the need to slow down and take a few deep breaths when juggling a career with parenting and also the need to keep a sense of humour.

 

So these are just a few of many stories that are part of the learning curve in my career and the best thing is that I’m still making mistakes (maybe not quite as often) and trying to find the positives and lessons out of them.

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