PR Pros: Lauren Arnold of Talk Shop Media On The 5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career As A Public Relations Pro
…Hard work ethic. PR, particularly within the agency environment, is extremely fast-paced and you often need to be thinking of 10 different things at once. Being motivated and hard-working is essential to success within this industry.
Have you seen the show Flack? Ever think of pursuing a real-life career in PR? What does it take to succeed in PR? What are the different forms of Public Relations? Do you have to have a college degree in PR? How can you create a highly lucrative career in PR? In this interview series, called “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career As A Public Relations Pro” we are talking to successful publicists and Public Relations pros, who can share stories and insights from their experiences.
As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lauren Arnold.
Lauren Arnold is a Business Director at integrated communications firm Talk Shop Media. She is responsible for a business unit that manages a portfolio of technology companies that includes some of North America’s fastest-growing startups and scaleups. Lauren is passionate about building the profile of innovative founders and driving meaningful brand awareness for the companies that are making our world a better place.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I attended Western University, and completed the Media, Information and Technoculture program. I was lucky to have an internship component that could be used towards my credits. My peers and I were exposed to a variety of different internship opportunities — many of which were with public relations agencies. I found myself at a small, boutique lifestyle agency and I fell in love with the fast-paced environment and the ability to tell meaningful client stories that moved the needle for those businesses.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
I’m inclined to share stand-out moments like staffing interviews for Steve Aoki with Toronto media backstage at his last concert before the pandemic or CES 2020 in Las Vegas, but truly, watching Talk Shop pivot and adapt to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the most interesting story. Experiencing how COVID-19 completely altered the PR and media industry will likely be one of the most interesting times of my career and I am so proud of how resilient the entire team at Talk Shop has been.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
During the first year of my career, I was staffing a live-eye for a client with a major on-air host from one of Canada’s largest business broadcast outlets. My client made a last minute spokesperson change a few hours before the live-eye and instead of calling the producer right away, I waited until we got to the location in-person, surprising the producer with a new, unexpected spokesperson. Let’s just say, I will never make that mistake again. It sounds like such a minor thing, but it taught me the importance of meticulous, transparent communication and making sure wires are never crossed.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
From a client perspective, we’re working on a few extremely exciting raise announcements from some of Canada’s fastest-growing startups and scaleups. We’re also working on various National data reports that are painting important pictures of the state of entrepreneurship, the future of work, the sentiment towards healthcare and other topics that are pivotal to everyone right now.
From a business perspective, we’re embarking on our fiscal year planning which is always an extremely exciting time at Talk Shop. Last year was a year of extreme growth that saw 17 new team members on our Toronto team, an acquisition, and 14 promotions. We’re looking forward to planning and mapping out our goals and focus areas for our next fiscal year.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Hustle. PR is inherently fast-paced and the COVID-19 newscycle has sped things up tenfold. Almost every aspect of PR requires a type of hustle where you need to be consistently coming up with new angles and new ways of doing things, while under pressure.
Passion and genuine interest. I absolutely love what I do, so I’m lucky that it doesn’t always feel like work, but I attribute a lot of where I’m at today because I’ve found a niche within the technology industry that I absolutely love working within.
Ability to manage stress. While this isn’t necessarily a clear character trait, I truly believe this is an essential trait to be successful within PR. My colleague’s Twitter bio is “This is PR not the ER” and it’s a good reminder that sometimes the deadlines and pressure within our industry feel really heavy and it’s important to learn ways to cope, unplug and manage that stress.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, can you help articulate what the different forms of PR are?
I saw a tweet the other day that read: PR is more than media relations. I think that sums up the fact that there are so many facets to PR — earned media, paid media, contributed content, events, speaking engagements and so much more. From a marketing perspective, it’s also important to think about PR as top of funnel marketing — you’re building broad brand awareness that develops over time. PR is not a tap that can just be turned on or off.
Where should a young person considering a career in PR start their education? Should they get a degree in communications? A degree in journalism? Can you explain what you mean?
As someone who is extremely happy with my choice to go the degree in communication straight into the PR workforce route, I definitely subscribe to the advice that the sooner you can get exposed and involved with a PR agency or PR department within a company, the better. My communications degree taught me the importance of deadlines, how to write (albeit, writing 10 page papers will not benefit you in PR) and the importance of relationships. I didn’t start developing and nurturing my true PR skillset until I started working with clients, pitching media and diving headfirst into meaningful, real-world PR campaigns.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
Just start. Always be building relationships and think about how you could add value to the folks you meet through networking. With no large-scale events and meetups, there’s no doubt that networking throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is tricky but everyone is in the same boat. Engage with PR people on Twitter and LinkedIn in a meaningful way. When you’re looking to connect with folks 1:1, don’t just ask people for a coffee chat to “pick their brain.” Look up the types of clients they work with, follow their coverage, study the campaigns you see them execute and go to them with specific questions you have about how and why they did it that way.
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
A lot of the success here stems from the networking question above. Build your reputation as someone who does good work and understands the value you bring to your specific industry vertical. Your network is the most important part of your career when you’re in PR, particularly, when it comes to building your reputation around the type of success you achieve for your clients. A referral network and solid, respected reputation is the best way to grow a PR business.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career As A Public Relations Pro” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Hard work ethic. PR, particularly within the agency environment, is extremely fast-paced and you often need to be thinking of 10 different things at once. Being motivated and hard-working is essential to success within this industry.
- Genuine passion and interest. Whether it’s technology, health, consumer, you have to live and breathe the industry you’re working in, or else it’s going to feel like really hard work. At the beginning of your career (or whenever!), get curious and explore different verticals and find something you’re excited and genuinely interested in.
- Clear and concise writing capabilities. As a PR professional, you will spend 80% of your day writing. Whether it’s pitching to media, writing to clients or internal communications, the ability to be clear and concise is essential.
- Strong verbal communication skills. Being able to communicate verbally is important within any profession, but particularly in client services on the agency side, it’s extremely important that you are a strong speaker and communicator to build relationships with your clients.
- A passion for storytelling. Storytelling is core to everything we do in PR. We are consistently telling stories of the founders we represent and the companies we’re supporting, or we’re plugging into the stories that are filling our newspapers and TV screens.
Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It’s not quite a “movement” per se, but: be kind. It’s more important than ever to remember that everyone is going through something and if everyone could focus on entering every interaction they have with kindness the world would be a better place.
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.
PR Pros: Lauren Arnold of Talk Shop Media On The 5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.