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.
Rachel Farrell is a Senior Account Executive at Elevate PR, an independent PR and social media agency based in Dublin. Rachel studied Journalism in DCU, graduating in 2018. In 2021, Rachel received a distinction in a diploma in Digital Marketing & Social Media from the Fitzwilliam Institute in Dublin. Throughout her career, Rachel has worked as an Intern with Stellar, a Stylist & Social Media Executive for Siopaella, a News Reporter for Dublin People, and held various roles with Mediahuis before taking her current position with Elevate PR.
Why did you decide to follow a career in PR?
I made the move to PR in October 2021 after I decided it was time for a change in my career. I had been working in journalism for four years and while I knew I loved working in the media and communications sector, I had come to the realisation that I wanted to move on from the news industry and something more lifestyle focused. I chose PR because I wanted a more creative and strategic role, and have since fallen in love with it. I think it’s so important to keep growing your skillset and the best way to do that is by taking a leap.
Specifically, tell us about your route into working in the PR industry?
I studied journalism in DCU and then worked as a reporter at Independent.ie before moving up to an Audience Editor. As a journalist I covered everything from breaking news to op-eds, TV premieres to the Ploughing Championships. When you’re starting out you need to be able to multitask and throw yourself in the deep end, much like PR. As an Audience Editor my focus was on journalism curation and reaching new audiences across social, search and digital.
During lockdown, I completed a one-year diploma in Digital Marketing, PR and Social Media with the Fitzwilliam Institute. I only had one PR module during my undergrad but after the diploma I knew it was something I wanted to explore more. A few of my former colleagues had already made the switch from journalism to PR and advised me to just start applying for jobs – so I did. I love being able to see both sides of the industry now, as a former journalist and now working on the PR side.
What is your favourite thing about working in PR?
I love being able to tell a brand’s story through different mediums, whether it’s traditional PR or through influencer marketing. Journalism and PR are so interlinked, and I found that a lot of my skills were more transferable than I first thought. I’m still writing and coming up with headlines, just in a different way. I really enjoy working across different sectors too, working with clients across fashion, design, tech and food and beverage.
If you could make a lasting change in the PR industry, what would it be?
I would like to see more encouragement for communications and journalism students to enter the world of PR after college. When I studied journalism, I left thinking the only job I could work in was under my degree. I’ve since learned how transferable all media skills are, and how exciting it is to challenge yourself at something new. The PR role suits my personality more than journalism did, and it would be great to see a more accurate depiction of the industry being shown to students. Influencer marketing definitely wasn’t featured in any of my college lectures and probably should be.
Name one person who has influenced your career and tell us why.
Caitlin McBride, former Executive Style Editor at Independent.ie. Caitlin was one of the many editors who took me under their wing when I first started my media career. She encouraged me to ask challenging questions in interviews, to pitch ideas and helped me to build up the contact book I have today. She’s now an MBA graduate, a published author and working in Google – the perfect example of someone who has excelled from pivoting in their career.
Name one communications tool you couldn’t live without.
Instagram. Influencer marketing makes up nearly 50% of my role and the impact it has for brands is hugely important. It’s also great for getting inspiration for new campaigns and events.
Tell us about a campaign or piece of work that you’ve worked on that you are proud of.
Working with Kildare Village on their Christmas campaign was really exciting. It was a 360° approach to target high-end fashion through traditional media, as well as a younger audience through influencer collaborations. We planned an event at the Village that would target both audiences at the one time, and worked with a number of influencers to promote the switching on of the Christmas lights. To continue the momentum after the lights were switched on, we continued to work with influencers on a paid basis for the rest of November and December.
While both traditional and social media played important roles in this campaign, it was the influencer strategy that had the largest overall impact, with thousands of euros in sales as a result. Our traditional media coverage generated quality top-tier media clippings with a reach of over 2.7 million.
Finish this sentence. “The best way to connect your story to your audience is by…..”
being frank, relatable and offering something new.
What is your favourite hobby?
Yoga. I started going back to in-person classes this year and find it really makes a difference to the mind.
What is the best book that you have read in the last year?
‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
What is your binge watch recommendation?
All of the Below Deck franchises. I’m a sucker for reality TV and Hayu is my most used subscription.
Name three trends that you think will be important in the PR industry in the next five years.
- Sustainability. Working in consumer PR you really start to question your own consumption, but there are changes happening already. Small things like recyclable press drops and less gifting are already taking place.
- New social platforms. We’ve already seen it with the emergence of TikTok and how quickly the creator platform grew. The Metaverse is a whole other story. Agencies will need to be quick to adapt to the always growing world of social media.
- Hands-on events. Now that the pandemic has lifted, events are back with a bang with everyone itching to get out and mingle again. It’s a saturated market and events will need to be really interactive and enticing to encourage media and influencers to come along – something they will get good content out of, whether through traditional or social coverage.
Which social media site is the most important to you and why?
At the moment TikTok, in both my personal and professional life. Our attention spans definitely dropped during the pandemic and TikTok is still the perfect easy-scroller. I also see more brands starting to explore the platform and choosing to work with creators on it over Instagram.
Name one staple of the PR industry that you think will die out in the next five years.
As digital media continues to evolve, I think traditional print photocalls will start to change. Online publishers are already seeing the importance of video content over stills. While I don’t believe print is completely dying out, the expense of a photocall may not be worth it in a few years with more focus on reaching online consumers.
More about Rachel
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