Date Posted: Monday 27th February 2017
Charlotte Tobin began her career at celebrity management agency The CAN Group (previously CAN Associates), and then went to work for EdenCancan as a Senior Account Director and Senior PR Consultant. Charlotte launched Belle PR in January 2015 and represents a range of celebrity brands (Katie Piper, Vicky Pattison, Jessica Wright) and lifestyle brands (Iconic London, Diamond Whites, Abbott Lyon).
Having worked within celebrity driven agencies, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?
Working with celebrities is a privilege and I’ve always appreciated that I was part of an exclusive inner circle that not many people get access to. That said, I learnt very quickly that celebrities are just people, and like the rest of us want to be respected and treated well. They are in a world of constant scrutiny which comes with pressure most of us don’t know, so to give them that constant professionalism, protection and security in the media 24/7 is invaluable to them and their careers.
Give us a breakdown of a typical working day?
8am - wake up, check the news and social media and head into the office (if one of my clients is on early morning television/radio my day starts at 5am!)
9.30am - get to the office, read the papers (and magazines on a Tuesday) and have the daily briefing with my team – every day, without fail there will be a press article that needs my attention! Announce any new client wins.
11am – head to see one of my clients at a photo-shoot to check all is running smoothly. Sit-in on key press interviews for their current project.
1pm – meet one of my brand clients for lunch to run through their latest campaign, strategy or press report – I like to see my clients face to face every couple of months.
2.30pm – back to the office to sell-in for my brands/celebrities – this means emails / hitting the phones and ensuring that any journalist/media outlet that needs to know about something, knows about it!
4pm – probably will be dealing with a client issue from finding out where their transport is, to booking stylists, tickets for events, samples not turning up, venue problems for our next event – you name it!
5pm – check the team are OK and that the day has run successfully and smoothly. Normally they’ll have a list of things to run through with me which they save for one big blast.
5.30pm – get changed and head to an event red carpet to do the press and media with my client. Often I will stay at the event to network and ensure my client is OK and not put in any difficult or uncomfortable situations.
9pm – head home, make something very quick for dinner, check late night urgent emails and sit in front of the TV for a couple of hours, with a relaxing bath thrown in for good measure! Events are about once or twice a week so more often than not I can be home by 7pm and will spend the evening with my dog (who is at doggy daycare in the day!)
Most enjoyable and challenging aspect of your job?
Enjoyable... PR is the most incredible sector to work in and I am obsessed with it, in a healthy way! It’s one of the only industries which enables you to make things happen quickly – this is because it’s an exciting, creative and relatively liberal industry made up of people that adopt the same qualities! I have always loved the notion of taking a person or product from zero to hero. There’s no better feeling for than taking a brand or product that the consumer/trade know nothing about or needs improving, to seeing it across the press, making sales, making money and making a difference. You can make a real change in this industry. Whether it’s your client, your client’s business or a charity you’re able to help along the way – you can see results, all from your personal actions which is incredibly fulfilling. From an educational point of view, my strengths have always been my writing skills, communication skills and organisational abilities – these suit themselves perfectly to a career in PR so it was the natural route for me to take.
Challenging... It is non-stop and incredibly stressful – often people don’t decide to have a long career in PR for this reason. It is very hard to find work/life balance and not many people like or can cope with that. Luckily, I’m pretty resilient to change and stress, which is crucial, especially when working for fast paced agencies or running your own business. That said even I find it tough at times, we are all human!
Top tip for maintaining a work/life balance?
Well, I haven’t quite achieved this yet so I don’t believe I should be giving out tips! Controversially I do believe to be an exceptional PR professional, PR does need to infiltrate your life in a big way (more so when you’re running an agency). It never stops. That’s because people don’t stop, brands don’t stop and sales don’t stop. It is not a 9-5 industry and you go into PR making as much a lifestyle choice as you do a career choice. Although you learn to deal with the pressures of the industry to enable a work/life balance, you couldn’t do this job well unless you really loved it. I love going to work each day so I am happy PR is my life. I would say though, I am VERY strict on my weekends – I very rarely work on a Saturday and Sunday - this is my time to spend with my dog, friends and family – I get very little time in the week so this is vital to me!
What are your thoughts on the PR landscape, where do you see the industry going with the rise of influencers, decline of print?
I’m desperately trying to work out what is the next big thing, the new ‘vlogger’ if you like! Social influencers aren’t going anywhere for a while – Instagram and Snapchat particularly are doing very well commercially at the moment for my clients. Print will never disappear entirely – there’s a special experience in buying and reading a magazine/newspaper and they are still selling in their millions and are still incredibly effective. What’s interesting for me is that there’s no exact science here, all outlets work differently for all of my clients which keeps me on my toes! What I do think though is that PR has an incredible power to do good – I try as much as possible to use my agency / contacts to good use whether that’s raising awareness or funds for a good cause or highlighting an issue that needs to be talked about – I hope other agencies start to do this more as a ‘must’ rather than a ‘that’s a nice thing to do.’
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own PR agency?
Prepare to work VERY hard, especially for the first two years. People will tell you it is hard, but it is harder than you could ever imagine. I believe you need to have the perfect balance between professionalism, passion and performance and that balance takes time to work out and get right. You have to be willing to put your agency before a lot of other important things in life and not many are willing to make that sacrifice.
Charlotte Tobin in 'PR contacts'
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