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.
Sally McEllistrim is the Founder of Get it Across PR and Communications, a Kildare based PR company. Sally began Get it Across PR and Communications in 2018 with the aim to get her clients messages across to the Irish media.
Name the one work tool that you couldn’t live without
My contacts book.
What communications innovation do you wish you had come up with?
What is the best book you have read in the past year?
Normally I think life’s too short to re-read a book, but ‘Star of the Sea’ by Joseph O’Connor is the one I went back to.
Why did you decide to follow a career in Journalism?
Two of my aunts were journalists and there was always a grá for writing and reading in my house. Also, staying with the literary bent, one of my grand aunts ‘walked out’ with Brinsley MacNamara, he of the famous polemic, ‘Valley of the Squinting Windows’ so I was always drawn to writing. I was aware of news and current affairs from a very young age, so all told journalism seemed a good fit for me.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at the start of your career?
That a bit of talent and a lot of hard work would make for a very successful career in PR.
What are the three biggest PR challenges that you face?
Keeping abreast of new technological advances is my biggest challenge as I am a technophobe. I have zero personal interest in technology but I appreciate how it can help my clients so I make myself keep up. So, technology, technology and technology.
Tell us about a campaign or piece of work that you’ve worked on that you are proud of.
The majority of my clients are repeat clients or come to me on the back of previous clients’ recommendations so I’m extremely proud of that, always will be. It seems unfair to single out just one client, project or campaign as I truly have so many I can look at with huge pride. One of my biggest clients is ‘Manguard Plus’, Ireland’s largest privately owned Irish security company.
It is a huge success story, largely due to the service it offers its clients, the exacting standards it sets for itself and the opportunities for lifelong training and development it offers its staff. The company is a very generous and loyal supporter of sporting and community initiatives and never had a media presence to speak of before I came on board. I like to think that I have given the company a very high profile media platform across almost all national media and highlighted the fact that it is to the forefront of professionalising the security industry in Ireland.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in their career in PR?
Know the media backwards, familiarise yourself with who’s who. Also remember that you’re not the story, your clients are.
What are the three biggest lessons that you have learned throughout your career?
- Hard work always, always pays off.
- Never miss a deadline.
- Always backup your lists of contacts.
Name three principles that you hold dear when it comes to your PR work.
- Honesty. I never promise clients that their particular campaign or project will land a lot of media exposure, or even any.
- I don’t take on clients whose values I don’t respect and I am scrupulously professional in my dealings with the media.
- I am my clients’ biggest advocate, I work my socks off for them and they know it.
If you could make one lasting change in the PR industry, what would it be?
PR is still a misunderstood profession. It needs some good PR.
What are your top three media relations tips?
- Know your media, make your pitches and releases relevant to them.
- Be savvy, know what’s going on around you, think laterally.
- Explore every single angle you can to get a piece over the line.
What do you love most about working in PR?
I love the fact that I’m really busy with a very broad range of clients and that I am doing the business for them. For me, it’s all about the clients. I never tire of the buzz of creating and developing really successful client campaigns and I still get a great kick out of seeing ‘media alerts’ popping into my inbox, tracking where coverage has landed. I’m absolutely blessed.
Who was your first boss in a media related job and what did you learn from them?
I had a stint in Kerry’s Eye with the legendary Padraig Kennelly. He was ‘old school’ of the fill the paper with ‘courts and sports’ ilk. He was clever and understood the psychology of the human mind. People like reading about others, a story always sells.
More about Sally
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