Subscribe to the daily newsletter.

How I Became: Lisa French, Managing Director, Truth PR

Lisa French

Lisa French is managing director and one of the co-founders at Manchester-based Truth PR.

The PR agency, which forms part of Truth Creative, was named as one of Prolific North’s Top 50 PR Agencies in 2022.

Lisa heads up Truth PR, focusing on the strategic delivery of client activity and running the company’s day-to-day operations. 

She shared her career journey, tips and advice.

How did you first get into your industry?

It was 2001 and I’d completed an English & American Literature degree at UoM with absolutely no idea what I was going to do next. I knew I enjoyed writing, researching and considered myself a people person so I was looking into journalism and marketing that summer when I stumbled across short term contract as a press officer in regional government.

It was advertised on an obscure website and I count myself very lucky I found it. I applied and got the job – which is remarkable considering I’d never even had an interview before! I was thrown into the deep end in a very fast-paced role, working on the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester among many things and I totally loved it. Three months quickly became six which became permanent and my career in PR began.

What do you love about your job?

Working with an absolutely brilliant team of people, the majority of whom are inspirational women who share mutual values. One of my favourite things is regularly consulting them on our agency processes, practices and developing new ways of working that benefit both us and our clients.

I love having the power to do that – and empowering them to make their voices heard and drive positive change. I still love writing – but don’t get quite as much chance to do that these days. If there’s an award entry going for one of our clients I’ll volunteer myself because I find them so satisfying. I know that makes me weird!

Who – or what – has inspired you in your career?

Shout out to my cofounders Jo and Darren. When they approached me to join them in setting up Truth PR in 2010 I initially said no – bonkers! I was only 29 and full of fear about leaving paid employment behind and being the master of my own destiny. But I’d worked with Jo in a previous agency and she basically bombarded me with reasons why I could do it and made me believe in myself. It’s thanks to them I’m where I am today.

What are the biggest challenges about your job?

Managing the flow of work across the team is one of the trickiest things to get right. I want to push each member of the team so that they feel challenged and excited by their work but equally, work-life balance is really important and I don’t want anyone to experience burn out. It’s not good for them and the quality of work across the agency soon declines.

What skills have been the most crucial to you succeeding in your career so far?

I think my work ethic helped me a lot in the early years. I was always prepared to work twice as hard as anybody else and if you keep that up, eventually you’ll be rewarded. It’s something I uphold to this day and plays a big part in motivating the team. They know I would never ask anything of them that I’m not prepared to do myself.

With regards to the agency, tuning into and trusting my intuition has been crucial to our success, particularly during challenging times. It’s something I’ve found easier as time has gone on. In the early days of any career, self-doubt can cloud your judgement and stop you making the right decisions. You need to learn to shut that down.

What was your first salary and what could someone getting into the industry expect to earn nowadays?

£16,000 – which was actually quite a lot in the early noughties but reflective of the high-pressure press office I was in and the fact tax payers’ money was at stake. At Truth, our starting salaries are very much dependent upon a candidate’s skills and experience. We rarely recruit at entry level but if we did, we’d be offering around £19,000.

What education or training would be most useful for someone looking to follow your career path?

I’m a fan of Bachelor of Arts degrees – perhaps because I did one myself and know the research, reading and writing involved which are all transferable skills. But a degree isn’t a prerequisite.

One of my best moments was offering a job to a young woman who had dropped out of uni because of the cost. She did two weeks’ experience with us and I immediately saw she had potential. She went from our PR assistant to Senior Account Manager in less than two years before I had to let her go because she moved to Australia – miss you Ellen!

What advice would you have for someone looking to follow your path?

Be prepared to work hard – you don’t get anything worth having for doing nothing. Take pride in every piece of work you produce – read and re-read it several times before you share it with anyone. You’ll be surprised what improvements you can make even on a fourth check over. The thesaurus is your best friend! Read for pleasure and as often as you can. Author Joseph Addison said ‘reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body’ and I could not agree more.

Related News