PR Rising Star is an interview series from MediaHQ that talks to up-and-coming PR professionals. It looks into why they decided to follow a career in PR, their predictions for the future of the industry and their favourite book of the last year.
Erin Fox is a Senior Client Executive at Drury, a full circle team of communications strategists and public affairs consultants. Erin graduated from DCU in 2011 with a degree in Journalism. In 2105, Erin obtained a diploma in Digital Marketing from the Digital Marketing Institute and in 2021, she returned to DCU, beginning a masters degree in Social Media Communications. Erin has previously worked as a Marketing Assistant for The Model in Sligo, a Columnist for The Irish Catholic and a PR & Content Executive for Storylab.
Why did you decide to follow a career in PR?
It was always my dream to be a journalist, but a huge change in my life changed my course and led me to PR. I studied journalism for my undergrad but during my first year at university, I became profoundly deaf and I couldn’t hear over the phone anymore, nor could I take notes. Losing my hearing, and what seemed like essential basic skills for a career in communications, felt like my journalism dream was over but I didn’t lose my passion for writing. Dealing with this monumental change in my life tossed up a bunch of challenges that I learned how to navigate, and set me on a path to a career in PR.
Specifically, tell us about your route into working in the PR industry?
Losing my hearing gave me a determination to push myself to the best of my abilities and seek out new challenges. When I graduated, I kept writing and after freelancing for a few years, I worked in the marketing department of an art gallery for three years. I developed a love for communications while I was there, and I enjoyed working with artists to communicate their work and their passion for it.
I started to see that while there were barriers to communication, deafness was not the barrier, and it didn’t prevent me from pursuing my education and career goals, it just changed how I was going to achieve them.
In 2016, when I saw a job opening with StoryLab, a PR and content agency which is led by two former national news editors, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to further develop my skills in communications.
Last year, I decided to take on more new challenges by enrolling in a part-time Master’s in Social Media Communications and joining Drury in a full-time role. I’m six months into the role and it’s definitely fuelling my drive.
What is your favourite thing about working in PR?
Sharing. You could work on the most exciting campaign, and achieve fantastic results for your client, but what makes a win so much better is sharing that with an amazing team. When you work with clients who are passionate about what they do, and you are surrounded by colleagues with unique and creative ideas, it’s incredibly infectious and boosts your own creativity.
If you could make a lasting change in the PR industry, what would it be?
It’s been wonderfully refreshing to see such a focus on diversity, equality and inclusion in businesses and organisations over the last few years, particularly in the PR sector. As someone with a disability, who has previously experienced what it’s like to be met with barriers to progression, one of my goals is to become a strong advocate for diverse perspectives, particularly in the communications field. Knowing our clients’ audiences is crucial for creating effective campaigns therefore, as PR advisors, we need to start from within and make sure our own workplaces and teams are inclusive. It’s an exciting time for DEI in the PR sector and, working with a unique and creative team, I hope to contribute a positive influence to this.
Name one person who has influenced your career and tell us why.
I’ve learned so much about self advocacy from Martina Byrne, CEO of the Public Relations Institute of Ireland, who taught me on the PRII certificate in PR Account Management three years ago. She really empowered us to take ownership of our careers, and that’s been invaluable in getting to where I am and where I want to be. She’s the ultimate champion for the PR profession.
Name one communications tool you couldn’t live without.
Pen and paper. I think I’d be more lost without this than my phone.
Tell us about a campaign or piece of work that you’ve worked on that you are proud of.
It’s hard to pick one but it’s always really rewarding when you’ve worked hard on a pitch and that pays off and you see your client’s story in print, online, or hear it on the radio. We work on a lot of road safety awareness campaigns with the Road Safety Authority, so I’m always proud when we secure top coverage for these campaigns and drive awareness around important issues.
Finish this sentence. “The best way to connect your story to your audience is by…..”
Knowing your audience.
What is your favourite hobby?
Before the pandemic, I found a knack for stand-up comedy! But it’s been a while since I’ve performed.
What is the best book that you have read in the last year?
‘How to Lose the Information War’ by Nina Jankowicz. Jankowicz delves into five case studies on the responses of Western governments to Russian information warfare campaigns, and why these responses failed. It’s one of the most important books we can read, as Jankowicz helps us to understand the motivations behind these disinformation campaigns, and how dealing with them at the root of the problem is the way forward.
This spring, she published her second book, ‘How to Be a Woman Online’, partly in response to the online abuse she received after the publication of her first one. She’s a sharp and witty writer, so both are well worth reading.
What is your binge watch recommendation?
The Marvellous Mrs Maisel. It’s got comedy, light and dark, the most fabulous outfits, and a wonderful fictionalised Lenny Bruce.
Name three trends that you think will be important in the PR industry in the next five years.
- PRs as agents for tackling domestic disinformation campaigns – I think PR professionals have a vital role to play in combatting disinformation and the key to that is through promoting truthful ethical communication, and really understanding how digital platforms afford disinformers the opportunities to spread their campaigns.
- Hybrid events – Whether it’s an Abba Voyage-like concert or a Metaverse concert, I’m really interested to see how both types pan out over the next five years and what this will mean for event management.
- A more diverse and inclusive PR industry, even though this is more of a necessity than a trend. I’m really looking forward to seeing this develop and become the norm.
Which social media site is the most important to you and why?
Twitter is incredibly useful for gauging public opinion and reaction. Otherwise it’s Facebook for remembering birthdays.
Name one staple of the PR industry that you think will die out in the next five years.
The speed of the industry. It’s so fast-paced, and it does need to be. While I don’t see that dying out, I would like to see it slowing down. There’s a lot of value in pausing, and that can help us with our creativity and look at new ways to improve the lines of communication.
More about Erin
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