Dev Mistry is a young PR communications professional based in Leicestershire. Having previously worked in both the Automotive and Technology sector, Dev is currently working in Telecommunications for a B2B service provider.
After graduating from Bournemouth University’s prestigious PR degree in 2015, Dev returned to Honda UK, where he had previously completed a 12 month placement as part of his degree studies. Working at Honda, Dev covered a variety of roles including PR, Internal Communications and CSR; obtaining a commercial understanding of how PR can support the growth of a business.
Following his role at Honda, Dev spent a brief time in London before returning to automotive PR, taking the helm as an Interim PR Manager for Subaru UK and Isuzu UK. Currently Dev is at Virgin Media Business working as the Internal Communications Executive.
It was through these roles that Dev developed a passion for relationship management and stakeholder engagement, two skills that heavily influenced his career pathway and objectives.
Outside of work Dev enjoys theatre, film and food, Mac ’n’ Cheese being his signature dish. Dev also enjoys public speaking and compering, politics, pop culture; engaging in regular debates on the latter two.
Describe your background in 5 words max?
Millenial Midlander, African Indian Blend.
How did you get into PR?
I fell into PR. I wanted to be an actor but after 5/6 auditions for different theatre schools I knew I wasn’t cut out for it. So I looked at my strengths and asked my college teachers what they thought I’d be good at. The two outcomes were TV Host or Public Relations, I chose PR because it’s complex and ever evolving – there’s never an easy route to success. There’s still time for me to become a TV presenter but I’m enjoying PR a bit too much to think about it now!
I got into PR for Media Relations, that’s what everyone tells you about and what most people go into PR to do. Fast forward 7/8 years and I’ve worked across a number of disciplines within PR and realised how much more there is to explore within our industry. PR is an iceberg and most people only see the tip of what we actually do.
What do you love about your job?
I like being able to take a complex and often monotone message and transform it into something that people understand and want to engage with. Breaking the barriers of stereotypical communications methods will always be hard but no one will try if you don’t suggest it.
My main love is talking to people. It’s what I’ve always been good at and it’s something that has got me to where I am today. I’m a firm believer in phone calls over emails – voices resonate with people much more than copied and pasted text.
People often think that PR is just media relations, which is just not the case. PR is made up of a number of different specialisms including, Intern Communications, Stakeholder Relations and Strategy Management to name just a few. I chose PR because of how diverse the industry is and I’m keen to explore it even more, as my experience to date shows.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a diverse career which has spanned many elements. What I love about PR is how deep you can get into a business, to understand its needs and to integrate with all areas – all to make change for the better, regardless of whether it’s a proactive, reactive or crisis response.
What are you most proud of?
Running a Children In Need call centre and helping take over £40,000 in donations over the phones. A great experience for everyone involved.
I think I’m also proud of what I’ve achieved at such a young age. Not in terms of salary/grade but more in terms of my experiences and the opportunities I’ve had. I made sure to make the most out of my university experience, getting involved in extracurricular projects, clubs, volunteering and networking. I started the PR society to bring people together to network and learn, opening up our world t others at university too. It aided my peers and I to network with tons of new people from the university, alumni and industry, I initially thought it would gradually fade away but it’s still running to this day!
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
How to say no. I’m a people pleaser by nature and people take advantage of that. You don’t build character by taking on the work of every man/woman and their dog, you become to go to person for everything and there’s an expectation that you’ll do it without question. By saying no, I reclaimed my time, my objectives and most importantly I allowed myself the opportunity to grow doing the things important to me.
Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
Rich Leigh, from Radioactive PR. I met Rich when I organised a talk at university in my final year and I’ve followed his PR journey since. It’s great to see someone who innovates alongside the industry and challenges the norm, not just within his agency’s work but also in how he treats the people who work for him.
I also love the people who work on Gemma Collin’s PR. She’s become an even bigger star over the past year and keeps delivering viral moments. The best one being her cameo in the Orange Is The New Black teaser this summer.
What skill do you think every PR has to nail?
Communicating is obvious but I think it’s more about being personable. People relate to someone they get along with – being able to hold a conversation is one thing but having an engaging conversation is a whole other skill.
When speaking to anyone you need to create a connection quickly, which helps build a relationship over time. Sometimes you need to know when to shoot with facts and figures but sometimes a good chat will get you even further.
What is your favourite social network and why?
Instagram for me is my favourite social network. It’s kept its core image based purpose whilst evolving into a communications platform at the same time. It’s interesting to see how people use it as a messaging service rather than a content sharing platform too.
LinkedIn used to be a favourite network for me but it’s becoming more of a forum where people try to tear others down. For finding jobs it’s a great site, as a social network it’s not my preferred choice!
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
One of my favourite journalists of the moment is Tina Daheley. I’ve listened to her on the radio for years and had the opportunity to meet her a couple of times at events (She’s a lovely person in real life too!). It’s great to see someone I can relate to in the media in such a high profile position.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Never aim for easy. I got this advice years ago when I first started out in PR. On a personal level it’s helped me plan ahead for the future. It means that I set myself big goals and even if I don’t accomplish them, I challenge myself to do the best that I can.
When you set yourself easy goals or aims, you let your standards drop.
Biggest PR campaign fail and yay of 2018?
Lush’s campaign surrounding police brutality and protestors. The campaign wasn’t framed as tightly as it should have been and it did the brand more damage than good in the end. The public perception of Lush took a negative hit and I think that people view them differently now.
KFC have been pretty good with PR over the last year with some great small wins across the board. Their crisis management response to the ‘chicken shortages’ was a great example of how to take hold of a negative situation. They’ve had a great year because of that.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
We need to be open as a sector about the problems we face with diversity. People are ashamed to say anything about it and that needs to stop now. Being open about a lack of diversity allows for conversation, it allows for changes to start happening and it encourages people to look for opportunities to improve this.
Dev is one of 18 mentors for the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme 2019.