Sidekick director, Charlotte Dimond, reflects on her 20-year career in PR, so far:
This month, twenty years ago, as a young early twenty something, I fell into my career in PR. I hardly knew anything about PR when I started out but I knew that I loved listening, I loved storytelling and I loved relationship building and, thankfully, I still do.
I know I am lucky to have found career and a profession that I love. It gets me out of bed with a smile on my face ready to take on the challenges it brings (most days!).
Things have changed massively over the past two decades and my students (I‘m an associate lecturer in my spare time, something I’ve done for a decade), look bewildered when I talk about faxing out news stories and phoning in my copy (from a short stint as a basketball reporter – long story that involved too much beer and a promise to take someone’s place).
The one thing that has remained consistent is my unwavering belief that there is always something new to learn and that is why I’ve taken part in the CIPR Continual Professional Development (CPD) programme for many, many years.
Here are a few things I’m proud of, a few things I’ve learned and a couple I’d tell my younger self (as an honest operator, I have to disclose I’ve nabbed these from a previous blog that I wrote and updated them!)
1. CIPR involvement from winning the CIPR Young Communicator Award for the region in 2004/5 (I am that old!), to judging the PR Excellence Awards and getting CIPR Chartered status three years ago (something all PR professionals should strive to achieve – in my humble opinion)
2. Working with Sheffield Children’s NHS Trust for 15 years sharing some amazing stories of wonderful staff, families and patients (I remember so many of them)
3. Getting my name in the paper, it’s not often that a PR professional is given the honour of their name next to a story, but one particular piece that I did interviewing a man and wife about the man’s Alzheimer’s really touched my heart and that of the journalist I sent it to and they, very kindly put my name under it (thank goodness as my grandpa clearly thought I was delusional when I used to show him stories that I’d written and they had other people’s by-lines on them)
4. Having the courage in my convictions and starting Sidekick PR with two business partners three years ago. An agency that we believe in and that we run with ethics, strategy, leadership and a sprinkle of fun at the heart of everything we do
5. Graduating last year with an MA in Strategic Communication (it took me forever, but I got there in the end)
A few things I’ve learned!
1. Pick up the phone, nine out of ten issues can be solved by talking to people, emails can be misread and misinterpreted!
2. Don’t be afraid to say no, if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it (my gut instinct has served me well, especially in the last few years)
3. Relationships matter – they are worth working at and the time you need to invest in them pays back ten fold
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help (no one knows how to do everything!)
5. Honesty and integrity are a huge deal, if someone threatens to damage yours walk away from them
A few things I’d tell my younger self
1. Don’t let that odd client hold your hand in the PR meeting, it is not ok, tell them to stop it!
2. You can do this, you are good enough
3. Don’t fall for the old carrot on a stick, if someone values you they will show you and not keep you hanging on with promises that never materialise
4. Be stronger when you see others being treated unfairly – you can and should do something about it
5. You are right to want to learn, keep at it
1. More than likely start the journey towards a PhD
2. Further develop my skills in a PR Specialist area, linked to the above point
3. Encourage others to #GetChartered
4. Dedicate time to helping the literary charity I’m a trustee of, Grimm and Co, their mission is to change lives one story at a time, something I’ve been working at for the past 20 years!