How I Got My Job: Breffni O’Dwyer, PR Account Manager At Host & Co
Breffni tells us how she broke into PR and what's been the key to her success so far.
Job Title: Account Manager at Host & Co.
Studied: Griffith College, Dublin
Tell us a bit about your work background
I actually started as a primary school teacher. I enjoyed it but I always had my eye on the media world. I had to take on a few internships to get some experience and was lucky enough to work with the amazing ladies in Dirty Fabulous. I went in as a social media intern but ended up doing everything from styling to buying and having an all-round amazing time! I had interned with Kate Bowe PR during my summer holidays from school; the team there were fantastic and I was lucky enough to be part of the press office at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival in 2012. I also did an amazing Jobsbridge programme with Fáilte Ireland in their International Publicity Department which saw me working on The Gathering and the first New Year’s Eve Festival in Dublin.
In 2013 I decided to do a little bit of travelling and headed for Melbourne for what was supposed to be a six month trip but ended up being a year. I was keeping an eye on the job situation at home and heard that Host & Co. were looking for an account exec so I spent two days putting together a CV and said a little prayer over it when I hit send! I did a skype interview and met Tim our MD when I was home a few weeks later and the rest, as they say, is history.
What did you study in college? Did it help you get to where you are now?
I did Arts in UCC as an undergrad (English and Psychology). Then I went to Brunell University in London to do my Post-Grad in Education. The course I did at night while teaching was in Griffith College, Dublin. I studied Journalism and Media Communications. It was a great course and we did everything from investigative journalism to TV and newspaper production. I never thought I’d end up in PR but after interning in Kate Bowe PR while still working I found that I really liked it. The lecturers at Griffith are great and most of them are working within the industry so can give a very real insight into what to expect when working in your chosen field.
Host & Co deals exclusively with hospitality PR, was that something you always wanted to break into?
It was an area I was interested in for sure. I come from a family of amazing cooks and grew up surrounded by food, whether it was picking mushrooms with my Dad or making jam and marmalade with my Mum, I’d pop my Bosco apron on and get stuck in! I think Ireland has the edge when it comes to hospitality – from small country houses to bigger hotels and restaurants.
What does your current role entail?
We’re an agency and are lucky to have a really lovely list of clients so my role is broad – from managing a number of accounts myself to supporting the directors with various accounts and projects. It’s a busy office and every day’s a school day but I love it.
What does a typical day entail?
No such thing as a typical day! We can be doing anything from meeting clients to planning meetings, popping out to TV3 or RTE with a chef for a cooking slot, meeting media to chat about upcoming projects/events, hosting a party or launch event, organising and managing photocalls and every so often we get time at the desk to catch up on the emails and draft some releases. It’s great, you never know what the day is going to bring.
What’s the best part about your job?
Happy clients. It’s lovely when someone you work with so closely is really happy with the job you’re doing. We do an office fist pump when we get a nice piece of coverage or interview for a client. That and meeting people. You meet so many interesting people along the way; I love it.
What’s the most difficult?
PR isn’t 9-5! Media is a 24 hour machine and sometimes that requires out of hours work and calls well past 5pm – everyone needs everything yesterday, but that’s kind of why I love it too.
What challenges have you met on your journey to where you are now?
For a role in PR it’s all about experience and while I didn’t find it too challenging to get internships, it’s pretty tough working for nothing. I was lucky that I could do some sub teaching when I needed to. In saying that, I think internships are really beneficial if you apply yourself and get the most from it that you can.
What characteristics are needed to become a successful business woman in Ireland today?
I think to be successful in business you have to do something you love to begin with – then it’s down to hard work, constantly learning and never being afraid to take a risk.
What do you think has been the key to your success?
I like a challenge and I’m not afraid to roll my sleeves up and get stuck in. My family were hugely supportive too, it’s not every mum that will encourage you to leave your permanent, pensionable job in the middle of a recession.
What sort of career progression is there in your job?
There’s plenty of scope for progression in PR, whether you’re aim is to become an account director, work in an agency or go in-house to a larger company. I know people who work freelance as consultants or you can go out on your own and set up your own agency; the world’s your oyster.
Any advice for people wanting to break into PR and marketing?
Seek out the best internship for you, use it to learn as much as you can and show how hungry you are for a career in PR. Then go to as many events as you can – chat to everyone, you never know where it will lead you.
Psst! Catch Breffni’s Style CV in the November issue of the mag – out October 15th!