Olivia Brackenridge joined Unify PR & Marketing, formerly The Lenny Agency, in 2016 as a junior account executive.
She was promoted to senior account manager at the Yorkshire communications agency last year, which works with clients such as OXO, Fassa Bortolo, Verona, Viners, Barista & Co and the Grammar School at Leeds.
Landing a job straight after graduating, Brackenridge shares her career journey, insights and tips for those wanting to enter the agency world…
How did you first get into your industry?
I was offered a job straight out of university after studying Journalism. When I was doing some research on local agencies, I couldn’t believe that the business (then The Lenny Agency) looked after huge brands such as Braun, Vicks, OXO and British Ceramic Tile. I sent the director an email to introduce myself and she asked me to come in for a chat and the rest is history. Seven years down the line and I’m still here, thriving and growing within a vibrant, boutique agency. It just goes to show that if you want something – go for it! You never know where it will land you.
What do you love about your job?
Seeing a campaign through from start to finish and taking a moment to appreciate all the hard work you and your team have put into delivery. When a client has exciting news they want to shout about, I love thinking of creative ideas which will get results. The more outlandish the better! It’s such a rewarding feeling when a client shares your enthusiasm for an idea and really understands your vision.
Who – or what – has inspired you in your career?
I’d say my whole team. I’ve learnt my skills from the best, Emma (director) and Sarah (head of PR), but I really admire the passion that comes from our execs, Sophie and Rio. They both work so hard and you can tell how proud they are when they secure an exciting piece of coverage or some stunning content for our clients. They both truly typify what it means to love what you do.
What are the biggest challenges about your job?
Sometimes it can be really stressful, especially when you have a lot of campaigns and projects running consecutively. But that’s why I have to plan every little detail to stay on track – I couldn’t do it without my good old fashioned diary. It always calms down though, I think if I was constantly under pressure I would feel differently, but I think a little bit of heat every now and again is good for productivity!
What skills have been the most crucial to you succeeding in your career so far?
I’m very fortunate to work with a close-knit team where we all want to help each other succeed, so I have learnt the bulk of what I know now from my peers. I like to think that I can return that favour and support the junior members of the team too as they progress within the business.
I’d say confidence has been a very crucial skill to learn to really earn the trust and respect of clients. They need to be guided by your expertise and will rely on you to deliver results. Of course, this comes with time, but after so many years of experience I know what will, and what won’t work, and that intuition is reflected in my confidence.
What was your first salary and what could someone getting into the industry expect to earn nowadays?
£16,000 but the job came with a lot of perks and was on my doorstep. Having a look around now, those starting in an entry level role should be looking at the £20,000 mark. Of course this varies between city centre and more rural location, but you should definitely factor in other considerations such as commuting time and expense as well as business-funded development opportunities.
What education or training would be most useful for someone looking to follow your career path?
Get involved with seminars hosted by publishers. These are usually about trends and useful tips for PRs on pitching and feature writing, but as this info is straight from journalists in the field, it’s insightful to see exactly what they’re looking for from us. This can really help define your strategy going forward, but also can shape how efficiently you work. We don’t have time to do things twice!
What advice would you have for someone looking to follow your path?
Enjoy the journey, it really is an exciting industry to be a part of. Like me – one day you’ll step back and realise how far you’ve come. I recently found the laptop I brought into my first day at Lenny it was surprising to see just how my writing skills have developed since then. Not only that, I’d never have imagined on the first day I walked through that door that I’d be leading new business pitches, running accounts and guiding a team.