Chelsea King wanted to be a writer as a child, and planned to study creative writing at university, but was convinced by her mother that journalism would offer more diverse career prospects – fortunately she was right.
Chelsea studied Broadcast Journalism at Nottingham Trent University, before traveling the world for a year, and returned to start her career in PR as a PR Assistant at brand agency Champions (UK) plc.
Working across a whole range of clients from consumer and B2B sectors including fashion, celebrity, events, finance, she also covered the agency’s own in-house PR.
Notable campaigns included the promotion of X Factor winner Sam Bailey’s second album and tour, and the launch of beauty chain NKD Waxing’s Leicester venue. Chelsea has also handled the PR for multiple celebrity charity events at some of the country’s most prestigious venues, including The Dorchester and Jumeirah Carlton Tower.
After rising to the rank of Senior PR Account Executive in just over two years, Chelsea jumped ship from agency side to client side and now works as Marketing and Communications Officer for MPQC (Mineral Products Qualifications Council), managing the organisation’s external and internal communications.
She is currently studying for the CIPR Professional PR Diploma and is writing a novel in her spare time.
Describe your background in 5 words max?
Mixed bag with some surprises.
How did you get into PR/comms?
After finishing my degree in Broadcast Journalism, I didn’t feel that journalism was quite right for me at the time. I did a bit of digging around other roles, thinking about what I enjoyed and felt I was actually good at: writing, getting my point across to others creatively and eloquently, and constantly working towards the next challenge. PR ticked all the boxes and not long after, I was offered my first role as a PR Assistant at an integrated brand agency. From day one, I knew I’d found my calling.
What do you love about your job?
The variety. The pace. The fact that the environment we operate in is constantly shifting due to social and technological changes. I like to be a chameleon, and I’m somebody who thrives on a challenge, and I’m always looking ahead to my next goal, and PR certainly feeds that hunger in me. I also love to look at things differently and challenge the status quo, and my job gives me the opportunity to do that on a daily basis. Finally, nothing beats seeing your efforts rewarded with some cracking coverage and solid results.
What are you most proud of?
When I decide to go for something, I always find a way to make it happen, and I’m always proud of taking a strong steering hand in my own destiny. Late last year, I started to look at ways I could propel myself further in both my career, and my understanding of the industry overall and decided to put myself through the CIPR Professional PR Diploma course. It’s tough balancing full-time work with intense study and there have certainly been sacrifices, but I’m already seeing the benefits in my role.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
That this industry is a constant learning curve, and a part of me will always feel like I don’t know enough.
Sometimes you have to be patient because progression, either personal or within a strategy or campaign, is a marathon, not a sprint.
Also, that you have to give yourself credit for a job well done sometimes, stop and smell the flowers, and treat yourself as you’d like others to treat you!
Who are your favourite people in PR/comms and why?
For organisations, Lush always do a brilliant job. They have such strong branding, reputation and stance on social responsibility, and they are fun and cheeky. I’d also say Innocent Drinks and Ben & Jerry’s for the same reasons.
For individuals, I love hearing about people who have reached the top of their game, then set up on their own, like Lauren Stevenson and Virginia Norris, co-founders of Aisle 8. Both my parents run their own businesses, and that’s the route I want to go down within the next ten years.
What is your favourite social network and why?
A picture is worth a thousand words, so I love Instagram. And because you can’t really post as frequently as other platforms, it means that the quality has to be spot on every time. I follow more brands than individuals, and I love seeing what people are doing with their visual content. I’m using the platform more in my personal time as well, as I think as with everything tech, the best way to learn more is to use it yourself.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
I love the Radio 1 Newsbeat team. I studied Broadcast Journalism, so I know radio is a really tough medium when it comes to storytelling and they do a brilliant job.
I think Stacey Dooley’s documentaries are great as well, as she tackles some very hard subjects that you don’t often see female journalists covering – we shouldn’t shy away from topics that make us uncomfortable, especially in the media.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Be unforgettable and do something other people aren’t.
Your favourite PR campaign/stunt of 2018 so far?
I really enjoyed Benefit’s BADgal BANG! Mascara launch campaign. It involved experiential marketing, social media, video content – everything you’d expect from one of the biggest names in beauty! I’m also a spoil-sport, and love to try and guess what sort of product the campaign is promoting ahead of the reveal, and I was spot on with this one. I’ve also enjoyed following KFC’s work following their chicken shortage crisis – their tongue-in-cheek approach is right up my street.
Why did you apply for the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme?
In PR and Communications, it can be really hard to access individuals with more experience and industry knowledge, let alone individuals from a more diverse background. As I’m always looking to improve myself and be better at my job, the opportunity to be mentored by a real success story was one I knew I couldn’t miss out on.
When I found out I had been accepted, I was so thrilled – not just to work with my mentor, but also to meet other talented people in a similar position to myself who I could also learn from. It really is an honour to be involved with such a positive and empowering scheme.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
Encouraging diversity is not about creating opportunities, but empowering everyone, across the diversity spectrum, to go for them. If you have passion for what you want to do, and you’re willing to learn and work hard, then you should feel like you have an equal shot, regardless of your background.
To do that, we need to see and hear a variety of faces and voices representing the industry sharing their success stories, their experiences and their expertise.
Chelsea is a mentee on the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme. She will be mentored by Isobel Bradshaw, Senior Corporate Communications Manager, Vodafone Group.