Byfield Bytes: Q&A with Senior Account Executive Meg Tillay

Byfield Bytes: Q&A with Senior Account Executive Meg Tillay

Byfield Bytes: Q&A with Senior Account Executive Meg Tillay 1800 1800 Sean Cullen

Meg – a former journalist who joined Byfield in 2022 – talks about the similarities and differences between journalism and PR and how she’s found it making the transition.

Q: It has been six months since you joined Byfield –  how has it been?

A: “It has been really busy but really fun. Not without its challenges but very positive working with a lot of different clients. It’s definitely different to be on the other side of the fence these days.”

Q: What did you like best as a journalist at

A: “I really loved talking to partners and the networking side of things. Getting close to sources and gaining people’s trust was brilliant as that was what landed me a lot of scoops because my sources knew they could trust me to write stories professionally. I got a buzz from knowing things that no one else in the market knew about. It was also great to learn about the legal market, which was completely new to me when I started as a journalist. Speaking to lots of different partners and learning about all the areas of practice meant learning a lot on fast forward”.

Q: Which of those things have you translated to PR?

A: “It’s still essential to know people but you use it in a different way. It’s about client relationships and media relationships, and bringing the two together. I do find that my understanding of how I would have reported on certain issues means I can anticipate what questions might be asked in a difficult situation or a crisis. I would also add that networking skills translate well; I’m not intimidated and will strike up a conversation with anyone at an event without fear or nervousness.”

Q: What do you get a buzz from when doing media relations?

A: “Getting a story or a byline in the national press for a client, or getting them a broadcast interview on LBC or the BBC. It’s really exciting as it is a big deal for the client and not easy to land these opportunities in such a competitive market. I love seeing my clients on TV or in the Times because they really appreciate that. It’s not exactly the same thing as breaking stories, but the buzz is still there. New business opportunities are also exciting – having a conversation with someone and it resulting in a potential opportunity where they want to work with Byfield.”

Q: Some people say PR is the dark side – what do you think?

A: “I can see why it’s called that for controversial clients, but all companies need good lawyers and we help people find the best by promoting the best. My thinking is more nuanced now I am in PR than when I was a journalist because I see some journalists are also mischievous or not straightforward in their approach. It isn’t a black and white world and there are shades of grey on both sides, particularly in things like litigation PR. At Byfield however we will always say no to things we don’t want to be associated with.”

Q: Litigation PR is new to you – how are you finding it?

A: “It’s fascinating because you don’t see very much of it as a journalist. All the internal messaging, scenario planning and so on for companies you don’t see – you just deal with the facts and the legal docs. It doesn’t matter if someone’s reputation is tarnished by a case as you are just reporting what is said. Now I see there is so much strategy, preparation and structure going on before a case goes to court. I now see how thinking through Q&As, strategy, scenarios is not always easy but necessary. In two of the cases I am working on there are major consequences not just for the client but more widely for society, so it’s a big deal. Litigation also takes so long that while you have the strategy for one hearing you then need another one for the next hearing and the messaging often evolves, which is really interesting.”

Q: How do you find the writing and creativity is different on this side of the fence?

A: “Totally different except in one respect. News stories are very formulaic and it is same in PR for press releases, where there isn’t much room for creativity on either side. Features are where creativity comes in on the media side. Creativity in PR comes when you are pitching for work or developing strategies for messaging on a difficult issue for a client. The creativity is different – you are thinking strategically rather than writing beautifully.”

Q: You’ve been hosting our Counsel Culture Business of Law podcast for a couple of months now – how are you enjoying it?

A: “It’s great fun! I was trained on broadcast media when I was doing my journalism training and I absolutely loved it. I would have gone into broadcast if I could and so it is fun to still be able to do something in that area. Ok it’s not the BBC but some people are listening and we’ve had some really nice feedback. We are getting new guests coming on, so anyone interested should get in touch.”

Q: What do you want to achieve in PR?

A: “I’ve not done crisis PR much yet and I really want to do some. I really enjoy a pressured environment and I want to advise and help firms or people with problems, as well as doing more litigation PR. I’m enjoying trying out different things and seeing what I like best and am good at.”

Q: Finally, what do you enjoy outside of work?

A: “Given that I live in beautiful Brighton & Hove, when it’s sunny I like to hang out on the beach or go for walks. I go to the pub with friends and I love to travel when I can. Normal twenty-something stuff.”