My Life in PR – This Much I Know, is an interview series that talks to PR professionals about their career journey and what they’ve learned along the way. From the innovation that they wish they had invented, to their favourite books and the biggest challenges that they face on the job. This series covers more than just career advice and takes a look at the person behind the title.
Carey-Ann Lordan is Managing Director of Red PR, a communications company that has served clients in the sports, food, hospitality, healthcare and retail markets for over 10 years. Carey-Ann graduated from Institute of Technology Carlow in 2008 with a degree in PR & Communications. After graduating, Carey-Ann joined Punchestown Racecourse, where she worked in the area of sales and marketing. In 2011, she left this role to set up Red PR, of which she is the Managing Director. Carey-Ann explores her venture into the world of PR, her favourite campaign and the biggest challenges that she faces in her role.
Name the one work tool that you couldn’t live without.
That’s easy, my phone. Power banks are also a must during events to keep it fully charged while on the go.
What communications innovation do you wish you had come up with?
MediaHQ, it has been a game changer for my business.
What is the best book you have read in the past year?
‘Champion’ by Pat Smullen with Donn McClean was pretty special. I knew and had worked with Pat over the years. He rode on the flat with my husband Wayne Lordan for years and he was a champion in every sense of the word. The last chapter called Butterflies was written by his wife Frances Crowley and it made the hair stand on the back of my neck, in a good way.
Why did you decide to follow a career in PR?
I grew up in a family business and we lived over it when I was young so technically I’ve been a PRO from the get go. I’m also one of those annoying super organised Monica types, I love meeting new people and had a natural flair for communications so it was the obvious career path to follow.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at the start of your career?
“Work smarter not harder”. It might seem cheesy, but I was like a hamster on a wheel in my early years. With mileage, experience and professional confidence, I am far more effective and efficient today.
What are the three biggest PR challenges that you face?
The pace at which PR is evolving, the need to constantly upskill and stay abreast of new innovations and emerging trends. On a personal note, with two children under the age of four, the juggle is real balancing work and mom duties. I am very fortunate to have good help and lots of support. Most of my work is carried out remotely these days, so it’s more of a juggle than a struggle most of the time.
Tell us about a campaign or piece of work that you’ve worked on that you are proud of.
Recently, I worked on the Tipperary Chamber of Commerce Awards which has just been shortlisted for the Event of the Year. The committee was super to work with and we put a lot of work into ensuring we delivered a very sleek event. It was great to get the opportunity to work with so many local businesses, from startups to big pharma and everything in between.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in their career in PR?
Be authentic, follow up when you say you will, be kind and never stop learning.
What are the three biggest lessons that you have learned throughout your career?
- Listen for the story.
- Treat people well.
- Don’t be a busy fool.
Name three principles that you hold dear when it comes to your PR work.
- Think outside the box.
- Embrace new ways of doing things.
- Keep it simple.
If you could make one lasting change in the PR industry, what would it be?
To highlight how PR is more accessible to SMEs than many seem to think.
What are your top three media relations tips?
- Take time to customise your pitches according to the audience and medium. Don’t waste your time or others.
- Be reliable.
- Relationships count.
What do you love most about working in PR?
It is just so diverse. I am a natural multitasker so having a good mix of clients and campaigns on the go is something I enjoy. I love the buzz of it all, from the initial consultation to the post campaign evaluation. Self employment can be lonely for some, but thankfully not in this industry.
Who in the media do you most admire and why?
There are so many but if I had to pick one, I very much admire Ellen Gunning. She wrote the first PR textbook I ever studied, ‘A Practical Approach to PR’ and she continues to train and educate so many in our industry. I still like to take a practical approach to PR everyday and continue to learn and enhance my skill set.
Who was your first boss in a media related job and what did you learn from them?
Dick O’Sullivan was CEO at Punchestown Racecourse. That was where I really cut my teeth in the industry. I learnt so much from him in business, but it was how he managed and motivated people that impressed me the most. He’s as cute as a fox and when I left Punchestown Racecourse to set up Red PR, he became my first client. His belief in me helped me to believe in myself at a time when I wasn’t sure if I was being courageous or mad, probably a bit of both. Ten years on, Punchestown is still on my books along with many more and he is still a wonderful mentor. I learn something from him every time we meet.
More about Carey-Ann
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