Ethan is a government affairs professional working in the City of London representing financial and related professional services. In his spare time, he founded and directs the LGBT+ communications network, InterComms, and a national, award winning campaign, FreedomToDonate. He also founded and runs PROUD Beer and sits on the Terrence Higgins Trust’s Advisory Board.
Describe your background in 5 words max
White, middle-class northener
How did you get into PR and/communications?
Essentially, I hated reading so knew I wanted to speak more. Combining my passion for politics and people into a role in public affairs therefore seemed like the perfect mix, and here I am!
What do you love about your job?
Frankly, it’s not the best thing to say at a dinner party, “I’m a financial lobbyist.” It’s not quite House of Cards, but I do think it’s rather cool, being in the room on some of the most fascinating discussions between business and government, I really do love my job!
What are you most proud of?
My parents. I wouldn’t have done any of the things I have without the confidence I have, and they’ve given me every reason to believe in myself, they’re the reason I am who I am today and I’m pretty damn proud of them.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Shut up. Like seriously, listen. It’s easy to talk and talk and add to the noise but it takes a real comms professional to sit back, listen to that and make a judgement based on views and perspectives you may not agree with.
Who are your favourite people in PR/communications and why?
Pippa Dale. 100%. A formidable yet friendly out and proud lesbian woman. She’s a business machine and such a genuinely lovely woman. Love her.
What skill do you think every PR has to nail?
Listening. Stop adding to the noise and sit back and listen once in a while. You’ve got two ears and one mouth, use them in that ratio.
What is your favourite social network and why?
I’m sorry, but it is Twitter. Not only because I’m verified which means I get Virgin Trains to respond to my tweets but because I can sit there in the morning and get an overview of literally everything I need.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?” – Ru Paul
What’s your ‘yay’ and ‘nay’ campaign of the year so far?
I LOVED the campaign from the Army last year around Pride. It’s a really difficult gig to get a brief like that and make it so human, so real, yet they managed it. Also have a lot of love for the BBC Newsbeat piece on two gay men holding hands in public, I related to it so personally and it’s a moving and authentic piece of work.
“PR agencies only talk about diversity to win big awards and look good. But it’s just tokenistic”. Discuss.
Some do. 100%. But for everyone who is doing it in such a superficial way, there are loads more doing it for authentic reasons. Diversity is not only the right thing to do, it makes business sense, and sometimes, if it gets the debate going, I’ll use businesses’ motives for self-promotion as a catalyst to make them implement real change. Every challenge is an opportunity!
What advice would you give a talented BME PR Pro starting to think this sector will never give them the opportunities they deserve and are close to jacking it in to retrain as a doctor (which would make their African parents very happy)?
Comms can be a pretty rough place, it can also be an ironically lonely one. But since when was the perfect job easy? When was the ideal career the one you just fall in to and don’t have to work hard for? Stick at it, there are incredible people in the industry, you’ll find them, get to know them, and get to learn it can really be a pretty cool industry to work in.
Finally, on a lighter note… Gutted to hear you can’t make the BME PR Pros Summer Party…. Out of curiosity, what tune would have had you hitting the dancefloor?
Ru Paul, Sissy That Walk. I know, stereotype much.