It’s that time of the week again: #GirlBossMonday!
Heather Blundell is the Managing Director of Weber Shandwick, Manchester; “We are strategic thinkers, we are creatives, we are conversation starters, we are innovators. We are the spirit of Manchester and we are engaging always.”
In her interview, Heather talks the importance of experience, grad schemes and her love of working for large agencies. Heather spent eight years working for Edelman before moving to Weber Shandwick, Manchester and wants people to understand that PR practitioners are not spin doctors!
The reason I conduct these interviews is to inspire you, my readers, and fellow PR students to be successful in your careers and business leaders of the future. I have asked the important questions to gain an insight of how these #GirlBosses made it to where they are today, and how we can emulate their successes.
Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
OC: Hi Heather! An easy question to start us off (I hope) – What is your full job title?
HB: Managing Director, Weber Shandwick, Manchester.
Can you give me a background of your career and education? How did this lead you to be in your PR position today?
I studied Sociology at Birmingham University. Between my second and third year at uni, I did a two month internship at Edelman in London, as part of their corporate team. I just loved it! Once I had finished uni, I was then accepted onto the Edelman Graduate Scheme and stayed at the company for eight years.
A grad scheme is a fantastic way to enter a business, especially if you rotate around different departments. Personally, I loved working for a huge agency (and still do) surrounded by super talented colleagues, engaging clients and tonnes of opportunity.
I then moved to Weber Shandwick and run their Manchester office. Weber Shandwick Manchester feels like the boutique office of the WB business. We run our own agency with national and global clients and we can always draw on the expertise of London/America. My commute is now 20 minutes which is a complete game changer!
What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your role in PR?
No day is the same. For example, last week I had a meeting with Princes Food and Drink company, I then went to a property company to help them with an issue they were facing and then I met with the Department of Health to discuss a new initiative we were planning.
Every day is busy and varied. I also work with the best team who inspire me and make me laugh.
What do you wish more people understood about PR?
That we’re not spin doctors!
If you were to hire someone for a PR role, what skills and qualities would your ideal candidate have?
It completely depends on the level of course, but the main thing for me in every interview at every level is their attitude: does this person really want to work here? Will they give it their all? Are they up for learning? New opportunities?
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the PR industry today?
We have to help clients understand that it’s not just about putting press releases out saying what they want to announce/communicate. It’s about integrated communications, understanding your audiences and providing a call to action.
As a PR agency it’s our job to make sure clients are provided with a clear return on investment.
What advice would you give to a student like myself that wants to emulate your success and make it in the PR industry?
Get some work experience, apply for graduate schemes, read newspapers and walk in with an attitude that demonstrates you’re willing to go above and beyond.
Thank you Heather ♥
You can visit Weber Shandwick’s website at www.webershandwick.co.uk
Follow Heather on Twitter : @HSBlundell
Follow Weber Shandwick Manchester on Twitter : @WS_Manchester