Ella Darlington originally trained as a journalist walking away with a 2:1 BA hons in Journalism and two NCTJs. She worked on magazines for several months after she graduated, after which she cut her PR teeth in The Wall Street Journal Europe’s press office.
Following a two-year stint at a tech PR and marketing boutique agency, Ella then joined Ketchum. Here she spent two years working on major tech brands like Philips, Oral-B (P&G) and transforming Booking.com from a lifestyle brand into a technology brand. An old boss got in contact to lure her back to tech PR at Octopus Group. Cut to two promotions later, endless amounts of new business pitches and lots of line managing, and she’s now an Account Director at Octopus Group PR agency, an award winning mid-sized tech PR agency.
Describe your background/yourself in 5 words max?
Sassy but zen Guyanese Londoner.
How did you get into PR/comms/creative?
My curiosity of people and general chattiness led me to PR by way of journalism.
What do you love about your job?
I hate routine. It doesn’t suit people who like to be ‘comfortable’, yes you have to be highly organised, but you have to be great at dealing with challenges. I kind of get a buzz from solving problems. It’s also a profession for people who love to learn and tell stories.
What are you most proud of?
Getting back up after coming out of being told I ‘wasn’t operating at the right level’. It was a busy time, where I was definitely being over-worked. But if you internalise a knock back you miss out on an opportunity to learn a HUGE lesson, and really come out swinging. It put some fire in my belly, something I’ll never lose, and I in fact pass on to others I line manage.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
“Don’t take things personally. Treat your enemies as teachers, be grateful you have them in your life.” Cheesy, but this is from one of the ultimate teachers, the Dalai Lama. I read this at the time I needed to hear it. The ‘being grateful’ part has to do with considering the alternative, just imagine how vulnerable and sensitive we would all be if we were never tested. It’s the mantra that’s helped me flip my thought process when confronted with unkind people.
Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
Two words. Oprah Winfrey.
The ultimate lesson in personal branding, networking, self-PR. And generally being a nice person.
What skill do you think every PR/comms/creative has to nail?
Persistence. Whether that’s with journalists, or pestering your boss or clients to make sure you can hit a deadline. Showing you have enough autonomy to identify an opportunity and follow it through to make it happen, is everything. You can have the most creative mind in the world, but results mean everything. Make yourself an asset.
What is your favourite social network and why?
I love Instagram, to get inspired about words, travelling, style. But Twitter is the one tool that helps me in work and my personal life. I use it to track news, build journalist relationships and also for personal bants.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
I’ve always tracked Naomi Kerbel’s career since she was a producer at Sky News. She’s now at Bloomberg and has launched a kick-ass podcast that showcases really exciting ‘women in business’ stories.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Make the person above you redundant”. Not in a harsh way. But always think of the next step up. Never be comfortable, it’ll be seen as helpful and proactive rather than pushy or annoying.
Best campaign of 2019 so far?
The HSBC ‘we are not an island’ out of home campaign that’s up all-around London on tube posters and in video ads. It’s an indirect comment on Brexit – a debate we’ve all intentionally or unintentionally been sucked in to. I think it makes a great statement about being a ‘global citizen’, which I think we all truly are. I feel like lots of brands are waking up to the fact that ethics are important to consumers.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
I do love it when non-BAME people speak out on injustice or what they’re doing to improve imbalances. If we just have a room full of BAME people, talking at other BAME people, at how unjustified things are, nothing will change. We need it to come from all.
Connect with Ella on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Ella is a mentee on the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme. She will be mentored by Reesha Rajani, Commercial Director, GOLIN and Virgo Health.