An interview with Chloe Buchanan

Chloe Buchanan

Chloe is the PR lead at The MTM Agency, with a wealth of knowledge and experience over the years.

“I first considered PR as a career path when I was in sixth form. It came as a total surprise really as I was set on becoming a barrister. A family friend owned a local PR firm and persuaded me to do some work experience. I can honestly say that I’ve never looked back.

My career path to date has taken several twists and turns, but it’s been an absolute blast. Fresh from university, I started in the fast-paced world of FMCG PR which provided me a solid understanding of media relations and the mechanics of gaining client exposure. The desire for London agency experience soon followed, as did the desire to move into lifestyle and travel PR.

The next five years were spent working with clients across the travel spectrum including airlines, tourism boards, agents, associations and, yes – it did require a lot of travel which was incredible.

Fast forward to 2015; I decided to move out of London and be by the coast, primarily for family reasons but the desire to live by the sea became too great. My focus in recent years has been on leisure marine clients such as yacht manufacturers and I have fully entrenched myself in the industry, attending most of the major boat shows around the world. My work encompasses everything from crisis and issues management, internal comms, product launches, and events and media relations. 

The role at MTM came about through a chance meeting with my Director at a marine industry event. Through several conversations over a period of time, together we carved out my role as PR Lead. I was drawn by a new challenge, an opportunity to develop my own team and work alongside experts across marketing and digital services. I’m also extremely focused on the growth of digital PR and working alongside digital experts, allows me to further hone my skills in this area.

My job is extremely varied and that’s has been the element that gives me the most enjoyment.

I also still have the same passion for delivering stand-out, impactful coverage for my clients as I first did when I started in PR.”

The Strain of Always Being Switched On

“The digital burnout is a really interesting topic in relation to PR. Being ‘always on’ is second nature to a PR professional, primarily as we need to be able to deal with crises and issues quickly and efficiently, even when out of traditional office hours.

When a facet of human behaviour inspires a major exhibition, you know it’s probably more than just a passing fad. Examining the origins of our always-on culture; ‘24/7: A wake-up call for our non-stop world’ at London’s Somerset House takes a look at how technology and social media have come to dominate our every waking moment.

In terms of burnout in the PR industry, it’s becoming more prevalent and discussed, especially in relation to mental health. PRWeek research in January 2019 revealed that 60% of PR and communications practitioners have suffered from mental ill-health. The report also reveals that 31% of PR professionals say they find their job very stressful and 59% say this stress is caused by their workload.

While it’s encouraging to see more practitioners discussing mental health with colleagues, far too many of our colleagues are still suffering. For too long, the PR industry has tip-toed around this issue but we now have an opportunity to take action and create meaningful change. Attitudes are changing. Conversations are starting and it’s something I am really keen to instill across my team.

One key area I am passionate about is recognising the impact of workload on mental health and introducing effective workload management techniques. It’s critical for the nature of work in communication.

In terms of my own self-care, it’s important to unplug. I separate my work and personal life through two separate smartphones. My ‘downtime’ is spent walking my dogs and I can never underestimate the benefits of an early night. I am certainly someone who needs consistent sleep to function!”

Women in Digital and Public Relations

“There are so many people who I draw inspiration from but one that comes to mind is Mary Portas. The retail consultant, agency owner, broadcaster and author, is one of the most powerful women in business. She spreads a message of empowerment to women in work and encourages us all to shift our working lives to fit around who we are – rather than a traditional, linear way of working. Mary is an outspoken, out-of-the-closet 50+ mother who slays in a pair of stilettos or a pair of Nike Air Max 90s in the boardroom – what’s not to love? 

I highly recommend her book ‘Work Like a Woman’. Based on what she has learned through her own experience and incredible career, Work Like a Woman explores how Mary and her team rebuilt their business based on collaboration, empathy, instinct, and trust. Values not always associated with leadership or winning.

My advice to other women looking to break into a similar role is to consume media and be social savvy – it may sound obvious but it’s important to be aware of what is happening in the news and trending online. Sites such as PRWeek and The Drum provide insights, research, and news from within the industry. The PR industry is constantly evolving and keeping up with changes is our lifeblood. Become a member of CIPR as early as possible. It provides invaluable professional support and ongoing training.

Experience – Don’t be frightened to change roles to seek further experience. PR provides the opportunity to work across many sectors, or to specialise if you are interested in the arts, fashion, business, sport or working for a charity, for example. Organisations in all these sectors need to talk to a range of audiences, to listen, to adapt, to share, to challenge, and to be part of the community in which they operate. As well as being able to communicate effectively to champion a particular product or service, you’ll need drive and determination to succeed in a rapidly- changing industry.”

You can find Chloe on LinkedIn

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