Lee is an art director with experience in social media content, PR and digital. She has worked for a huge range of clients, such as Subway, SKODA and Marks & Spencer. Her work has made it to the finals at The Drum Network Awards and the DADI Awards, and she was responsible for Subway UK’s most viral April Fool’s campaign, which reached a total media reach of 183,272,560, and a total social media reach of 4,596,940. Lee primarily specialises
in creative ideation, and some design.
● Describe yourself/your background in 5 words max?
British Malaysian Chinese Northamptonian Londoner!
● How did you get into PR/communications?
I already had social media content experience, and a PR agency wanted someone who could do a bit of social and a bit of PR.
● What do you love about your job?
Pushing my imagination to create beautiful, funny or interesting work, that can make people laugh, cry or think. I also love discovering new innovations and technology.
● What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of beginning this career at all, when most seniors said that I couldn’t do it when I first graduated from university. Seniors tend to be dismissive of graduates, which can be hugely demotivating, but for me, it drove me to prove them wrong. I hope today’s graduates can face the world bravely, even when they get knocked back multiple times.
● What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
How many psychopaths turn up at workplaces! I’m lucky I currently work in a nice environment with lovely colleagues, but it hasn’t always been super rosy! However, in many ways, I do count myself lucky that I haven’t personally experienced some of the worst stuff that’s on DearAdLand.com, clearly, we have a long way to go in improving people’s working environments!
● Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
Is it biased if I say Elizabeth Bananuka!? She’s one of the few people who doesn’t just say the buzzword ‘diversity’, she actually lives and breathes it, and she’s had such a successful career. Plus every time she talks, I feel motivated and inspired by her wonderful and vibrant energy.
● What skill do you think every PR has to nail?
To create emotion, whether that be joy or happiness. I think that can apply to any advertising or marketing, not just PR.
● What is your favourite social network and why?
Instagram. It’s very relaxing to browse through, and they’re very innovative on Stories. Some of the stickers are a little gimmicky, but other innovations are genuinely really useful, especially from a marketeer’s perspective.
● What’s your favourite podcast and why?
I’ve got a few! My first podcast love is Startup by Gimlet. It’s very satisfying and motivational to hear how people rebelled, packed in their day jobs and just went for their dream. Some people reading this may also be familiar with the book, ‘Why I’m Not Talking to White People About Race’ by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Unfortunately, I still haven’t finished reading her brilliant book, but I have listened to her podcast, ‘About Race’, which is excellent. She is so intelligent and eloquent, and her podcast really educated me about history that we definitely did not learn in school! If she could be part of every school curriculum, the world would be a better place.
I also really like Vietnamese Boat People, which is about American Vietnamese refugees during the 1970s – 1990s. Quite a few people I know personally had very similar journeys before settling in the UK, and it just really resonates with what I’ve heard from them too.
It’s a very relatable podcast for anyone from any immigrant family, especially those that have been through so much hardship to reach a safe space. More people should listen to it, perhaps they’d have more empathy, especially in today’s political and global climate.
● Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Owen Jones. He’s not always consistent in his point of view, but at least his point of view is different from most of the mainstream media, so it’s interesting to read.
● What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
When you’re early on in your career, move every 2 years, especially if you feel like you’ve outgrown the role/company. I learned so much in my early 20s from moving around, and of course, got those comfortable pay rises I otherwise wouldn’t have received!
● Biggest PR campaign fail and yay of 2019?
My favourite campaign was probably one of the simplest. It was Instagram’s Most Liked Egg. It really showed off the power of social media and how anything can go viral as long as it can make people laugh. In the end, it drew attention to a mental health initiative. It was the perfect platform and created a lot of organic PR. You can find it here: www.prexamples.com/2019/02/instagrams-most-liked-egg-revealed-as-part-of-mental-health-campaign/
I’d say one of the biggest PR fails of this year is not a big ‘campaign’ per se, but I found Campaign magazine’s beauty cover of Nigel Farage rather inappropriate, plus its rather favourable interview of him. After scrolling through endless, angry adland tweets, has the old adage of ‘Know your audience’ ever been more relevant?
● Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
I think people should be more open-minded to different people, not just based on their looks, but also based on their opinions and points of view. I find people are simply entrenched into just one way of thinking, from politics to creativity. We don’t just need a diversity of skin colour, but also a diversity of thought (usually those things do, thankfully, go hand-in-hand). Managers and directors need to lead meetings in a way that gives everyone a fair say, not just the interrupters and the over-confident. Sometimes it’s the person at the back of the room that actually has something useful to say. People of colour, in particular, can be shyer as they’ve had experiences of being silenced in the past. Therefore, we need to find ways to encourage them to talk more, instead of dismissing them. This will make the sector far more appealing to more diverse people.
Lee is one of 18 mentors for the 2020 BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme. Applications for mentees are now open – click here to find out more. The closing date for applications is Friday 14 February 2019.