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What I’ve Learnt: Jenni Bamford, Head of PR, BIG Partnership

Jenni Bamford

Jenni Bamford is Head of PR at BIG Partnership, an integrated comms agency.

She has over 15 years of experience in the industry with previous roles at the likes of Red Havas, Weber Shandwick, N Brown and The Hut Group.

Bamford joined the agency’s Manchester office in 2021 as a senior account director before being promoted to her current role in 2023. BIG Partnership has further offices in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

From how the stars aligned for her luckiest break to her biggest failure misinterpreting an urgent media enquiry, she shares all the lessons she’s learnt across her life and career…

 Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

A morning coffee and a scan of the news will never get old.

What’s been your luckiest break?

Moving to a brand side role (N Brown Group) after spending six years working at agencies (Havas and Weber Shandwick) was a great move and has opened many doors since, leading me to where I am now (BIG Partnership).

It was a case of the stars aligning when an ex client of mine was setting up a PR team at N Brown and brought me in to the team. I spent six years there and see it as a turning point in terms of setting me up for the more senior roles that followed. It allowed me to work across global briefs and deliver some pretty stand-out and award winning campaigns. A lot of industry contacts became lifelong friends, and the rest, as they say, is history.

That said, it didn’t put me off agency life, it actually benefitted me and helps me to switch back into a client mindset daily. We have a hugely talented team at BIG Partnership with an equally impressive mix of clients, both PR and intergrated.

What’s your best failure?

Misinterpreting an urgent media enquiry during my placement year working for an NHS press office. They asked for comment on surgery that had gone wrong due to somebody ‘nicking a bowel’. Conclude the rest of that story as you will…

What is the best investment you’ve ever made, either financial or time?

Spending time with my family, especially on days that I now look back on and realise how lucky I was to have had. Nothing will ever beat that.

Which podcast or book would you recommend others to read and why?

‘The Universe Has Your Back’ by Gabrielle Bernstein is amazing. I found it an easy read but with lots of depth, offering guidance on how to stop chasing life in order to start living life.

I also love ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, by Nelson Mandela, which I was lucky enough to get at Robben Island during a South African holiday earlier this year.

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

That being in the trenches is when you’ll learn the most.

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

There’s two that have been equally as influential at different points. Brian Beech was my first boss at Havas PR and he taught me to work hard but to always be yourself, and that ‘people buy people’.

Ed Watson was my client at Debenhams and then boss at N Brown and prepared me for ‘grown up PR life’. The campaigns that we executed with Ed at the helm were really special.

They both taught me that when you work for somebody that you want to work for (be it a client or a boss), you care even more, which is always a winning formula.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

When I was growing I wanted to be the first female physiotherapist for Manchester United. Not sure what happened there…

If there was one thing you could change about your career, what would it be and why?

I really wouldn’t change anything, I’ve worked hard and also been very lucky to learn from some pretty special teams. Some of the Covid years were a little strange when looking back, but everything landed the way it was meant to.

What does success look like to you?

Having a happy balance between work and life, with good people around you on both sides. It’s important to be ambitious and have enough drive to continually grow, but to also have enough sense to slow down at times.

Failing that, a glass of wine on a Friday eve.

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