#HowIGotMyJob: We Chat To London Based Celebrity PR Girl, Hannah Saunders
Hannah landed a job with Halpern, one of the top PR companies in The UK, and rubs shoulders with A-list celebrities on a weekly basis. She fill us in on working her way up the career ladder.
Occupation: Account Manager at Halpern
Degree: Arts Degree at UCD in Drama and English
Tell us about Halpern and what they do?
Halpern is a UK based Public Relations Agency. We work with a variety of clients encompassing fashion, beauty, fitness, food and beverage, interiors, travel, technology and charity, helping them to stand out from their competitors. Halpern has also recently set up the &Collective which is our Influencer Marketing division consisting of some of the leading UK social media stars.
Tell us about your career path getting to your current position?
During University, I worked on the reception desk at the global Public Relations firm, Fleishman Hillard. It really gave me a sense of the industry and as soon as I graduated, I began working with their Brand Marketing team. A short time later, I moved to New York where I began a Graduate Programme with Fleishman Hillard at their NYC HQ. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I spent a year in the big apple working on a number of fantastic brands and even got to work on the One Direction pop up store!
After NYC, I was ready to take on my third city and hopped on the boat to London. I had built a wish list of companies that I wanted to work for and Halpern was one of them. The position I originally went for was actually way more senior than what I was at the time, but I was determined to get face time with the company and I successfully secured a role on their Celebrity and Influencer division. I’m still happily working here two and a half years later.
What’s your exact role?
So Halpern consists of the Beauty, Fashion and Consumer teams as well as the recently launched &Collective and I work across it all. I work with each of the brands to identify and advise on the best influencers to approach and work with to help amplify and elevate their perception in the media and with their target audiences. I help to get my brands seen in the right places and associated with the best and most influential people; I help make the brands famous and cool.
What does a day in your shoes look like?
Very high and very uncomfortable! No day is the same for me, apart from my mornings which consist of a quick flick through the papers and magazines to keep an eye out for any articles of interest for my clients, trends to be aware of, a celebrity/influencer to add to my radar or any creative campaigns to share with my team. My days are jam-packed, between meetings with talent, talent agents, media, clients both perspective and existing, internal brainstorms and back to back calls. I’m always on the go. It’s so important to network and really get out there and learn about the industry.
What’s the best part of your job?
If I have to really narrow it down, it’s definitely the array of interesting people I meet. It’s also an incredible feeling when I help to make a magic moment happen between one of my brands and a top influencer. I have the opportunity to work with globally recognised and brilliant brands and people, it’s pretty exciting.
What’s the most difficult?
Every client has a different budget but very often the same expectation in terms of outcome. Finding that balance between being realistic, yet optimistic, is sometimes tough. In my case, every brand wants to work with Victoria Beckham or Kim Kardashian, and that’s not always possible. Our job is not to do what we’re told, it’s to advise our clients on what they should do to build and grow their brand. They are paying us to be these experts and so this is what we should be delivering on.
Any fantastic perks?
I get to attend some pretty amazing events, my beauty cabinet rivals that of Kim K from all the fab brands that I get to try, I get to eat a lot of Five Guys and then I get to work it off at one of the UK’s leading gyms, Fitness First!
Is it a high stress environment?
It’s an incredibly demanding and fast-paced environment but I think I’ve really learned how to prioritise. It’s important to remember that you’re only human and there’s only so much you can do. Stress related anxiety is a rapidly increasing problem, particularly for young women, so I think it is crucial to take time every day to relax and unwind. I recently started doing hot yoga most nights and I can’t recommend it enough for relieving stress. Colleagues often comment on my ability to remain calm in pressured situations, and I take that as a compliment. My motto is “it’s PR not ER!”
I was heavily involved in a charity campaign last year called The Lady Garden Campaign which was to help raise funds for the Gynaecological Cancer fund. A limited edition jumper was created which went on sale in Topshop and proceeds from the jumper went towards the fund. I was tasked with getting the jumper seen on the most influential names in showbiz to help drive sales and create as much buzz for the charity.
I managed to secure Instagram posts supporting the campaign from the likes of Cara and Poppy Delevingne, Rosie Huntington Whitely, Little Mix, Alexa Chung, Laura Whitmore, Millie Mackintosh, Rosie Fortescue and Elizabeth Hurley. The jumper sold out in Topshop twice and we managed to exceed all expectations in terms of our target donations.
Secondly, I was working with the Irish hair extensions brand Easilocks. I managed to get Hollywood actress Margot Robbie to test them and she instantly became a supporter of the brand. It was a brilliant feeling being able to connect Margot with my client Easilocks CEO Shane O’Sullivan and in turn she became his client.
You work with a lot of celebrities, why is that?
Influencer Marketing is fast becoming the most impactful way to promote your client/brand to its desired audience. With some of our luxury skincare clients, I have arranged treatments for the likes of Rita Ora and David Gandy. With our nail brands I’ve secured manicures with Emma Watson and Nicole Scherzinger, with our hair clients I’ve arranged services for Kate Beckinsale, Laura Whitmore and Lindsay Lohan, with our fashion clients I’ve dressed Ellie Goulding and Emma Willis. They all really helped raise the brands profile within the media. On bigger projects, I’ve helped to secure celebrities to be faces of various campaigns such as Abbey Clancy for Avon, Binky Felstead for Easilocks, Chloe Lloyd for BIC and Joe Wicks for Fitness First.
What about career progression?
There’s always room to progress in this industry. I’d love to get the opportunity to manage global endorsements and in order to get there, I need to build up my experience and expertise. I’m currently an Account Manager and so next stop is getting to Account Director level. In order to progress to that level I need to continue building relationships, continue learning about the industry, and continue coming up with creative campaign ideas. I’m currently developing my skills at managing a team which is hugely important for progression and also identifying new business opportunities. Hopefully, all of this will help you to get to the next step on the ladder.
What do you think has been the reason for your success?
I genuinely think the ability to find happiness and satisfaction in what I do has really aided any personal success. There aren’t many people who can honestly say “I love my Job”, but I do! I’m not afraid to challenge myself and when I get an idea in my head, I have to make it happen even if it as at 3am. I take guidance from people around me and I’m always grateful for any help. At the same time, I don’t rely on anyone but myself. When I moved to London I had no connections and I certainly didn’t know anyone famous, but I never let that stop me getting the job that I knew I wanted. Lastly, always having a pair of heels in my handbag or under my desk, you never know who you are going to meet or where you’re going to end up that day!
What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
I’d love to work on global brand endorsements such as Julia Roberts for Lancôme or Charlize Theron for Dior. I also love sport and so I’d love to get more involved with sports stars on a commercial level. I want to increasingly develop as a consultant for Irish brands and talent looking to leverage themselves within the UK market. Finally, in terms of the &Collective, I want to continue to build up a roster of varied and sought after talent helping us to connect with the biggest brands internationally.
What do you think are the characteristics necessary to be a successful business woman in the world today?
Confidence, personality, style, and a sense of humour!
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