Q: You joined Byfield almost exactly three years ago – how did you start in legal PR?
A: “I had a stint as a paralegal at Travers Smith. I enjoyed learning more about the law but practising didn’t appeal. I was thinking how can I use that knowledge and interest but in a way that works for me. Then a recruiter came along and mentioned a role at Byfield. I didn’t know about PR and had never thought about it, but it tallied with my interest in news that impacts our lives. I thought it would be more creative but still allow me to keep up with the law. I got the job, picked up my laptop and boom, two weeks later lockdown hit and we were all resigned to working virtually.”
Q: How did you find learning a new profession from scratch while sitting at home?
A: “The amount of support Byfield gave me, how willing everyone was to help and how close everyone was made it much easier. People were very willing to adapt their style to teach someone who wasn’t able to learn by osmosis in the same physical office. The human element and networking sides were naturally harder but that was the same for everyone going into a new job at that time. I learned via virtual meetings and everyone was very patient with me.”
Q: How do you find doing professional networking now?
A: “I benefit from going to events and networking meetings with others rather than alone, so that grew my confidence. I have definitely been finding my feet and would encourage everyone who missed a chunk of opportunities due to the pandemic to throw themselves into building their professional network. Otherwise you’re just an email or a face on a screen – those personal, real-life contacts are so important.”
Q: You progressed quickly from joining as an Account Executive to being an Account Manager now. Tell us three of the most valuable things you’ve learned.
A: “Firstly, having the confidence to give advice and not just be a yes person. Sometimes you have to persuade a client about a course of action for their own benefit and not just do precisely what you are told to do. There’s a big difference between fulfilling a task and giving advice.
Secondly, to throw yourself into tasks that are uncomfortable, to learn new skills and push yourself – whether learning social media skills or picking up the phone to cold call a producer for a TV or radio show and pitch. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone -especially early in your career – accelerates your progression and makes you a more well-rounded practitioner.
Thirdly, the value of learning from others – you get so much from listening to those who have been in this business for a long time, as well as taking fresh ideas into account from newer team members. Being open-minded about learning from all your colleagues and your clients is vital. Being collaborative and not hierarchical, and appreciating that other ways of working and different personalities bring so much you can learn from.”
Q: What do you enjoy most about the job?
A: “Seeing excitement from other members of the team when they get good client feedback or have successfully landed a pitch and secured high-profile coverage. Or when they have embraced something out of their comfort zone and are trying something new, even if they don’t get it right first time.”
Q: Give us your thoughts on the reputation of the legal sector and how it is evolving.
A: “It’s becoming a lot more human – I think it used to be just about how much money can you bring in. Now there is more engagement with the real world not just “the law”. Whether it’s ESG, D&I or professional ethics, there needs to be much more engagement with and authenticity about the societal impact of law firms.”
Q: How do you find managing your time?
A: “You have to be very strict with your time as an account manager – I need to account for a lot of other people, manage clients, manage people, manage upwards, be very organised and communicate clearly.”
Q: How would you describe Byfield?
A: “As a ball of energy – a very engaged workforce both in terms of work but also how we socialise. It’s a very supportive environment. If someone is struggling we help each other to find solutions. We really seek to be trusted advisors to clients – we know the legal sector and the media so well and so they come to us with their opportunities and challenges. We help them find solutions in building and protecting their reputations and they know they can rely and lean on us.”
Q: What about outside of work?
A: “I like to go bouldering and to discover new cuisines, although Vietnamese is my favourite. When I’m not hanging off a climbing wall I will sometimes be nursing a bit of a sore head after a night of clubbing.”
Q: Finally, tell us something people don’t know about you
A: “I used to breed rabbits!”