Account Executive Oliver Beard talks about his experience entering the world of legal PR and what he’s learned so far.
Q: Why did you decide to go into PR after graduation?
A: “I’ve always had an interest in current affairs. In my job, whatever a client is interested in, whether it’s financial services, energy or employment issues, I need to always find a current affairs angle. You need to be aware of what is going on beneath the surface. I enjoy being immersed in current affairs and understanding what is going on in some depth – you have to go beyond just knowing what the top five general news stories of the day are.”
Q: And how are you finding working specifically in legal PR?
A: “It’s good. It means I need to be aware what issues my clients can comment on (and which they can’t), and understand where the coverage of a topic will be improved for both journalist and the public if a lawyer is quoted. E.g. crypto regulation – where might it go? What are pros and cons of more regulation? There are so many issues where having a legal voice in the coverage about what is happening and where it might go is really important.”
Q: You joined Byfield as our first Graduate Account Executive last year and recently progressed to Account Executive. What would you say are the three most important things you’ve learned so far?
A: “Firstly, to have the confidence to sell your client. It’s not about robotically pitching what they’ve given you word-for-word. You need to understand their expertise and why a topic is interesting. You need to understand both those things to be able to you sell the client’s knowledge into the news agenda.
“Secondly, the ability to say things very succinctly. You literally have a few seconds on the phone with a producer to tell them why they should have a lawyer on the show to talk about something and you have about three lines in an email to a journalist to catch their attention. You need to be able to put things pithily and keep it concise.
“Thirdly, to get ahead of the news agenda – you can’t always be reactive. That means tracking ONS stats releases, knowing when High Court judgments are being handed down and so on. Being proactive makes your life easier and makes clients lives easier because you’re not always chasing the story.”
Q: What work are you most proud of so far?
A: “My first time getting a client onto broadcast slots on the radio – this was nerve wracking ringing up cold and selling a lawyer to go on. I was nervous but got a real sense of achievement from succeeding. I would also say that I’m proud of how much I have learned about the law and the legal industry very quickly. My degree is history rather than law but the on-the-job training means I’ve picked up a lot of understanding about the sector in a short space of time.”
Q: What do you want to do more of?
A: “We just had some training on litigation PR, which was really excellent and I want to do more of that. I like the idea of doing faster and more intense projects as well as the day-to-day media relations for our clients. I am looking forward to some opportunities to get involved in those projects soon.”
Q: Finally, what do you like to do outside of work?
A: “I go running a lot and some of the Byfield team have started going bouldering together most weeks, which I am enjoying as something new. I also read a lot of history books and am currently midway through a collection of chronicles of the First Crusade.”