From politics to PR, we speak to Clemmie about her decision to explore the world of communications post-graduation, the key skills learnt throughout the first ten years of her career and how this provided the perfect platform for her to establish her own communications consultancy business Darby & Parrett.
Let’s start with the most frequently asked question…what’s the difference between PR and marketing?
Great kick-off question! The reason people get confused between PR and marketing is that both entail selling a brand to a consumer (in the B2C sector). PR is about positive positioning of a brand through media relations to build reputation and credibility. Marketing however is direct communication to the consumer, such as promotional activity on behalf of the brand. PR is long term and relationship orientated whereas marketing is much more immediate and systematic. Both are completely different in nature but have similar goals - generating sales and increasing development and profitability of a brand.
After graduating in Politics at the University of Bristol, why did you decide to go into PR and how did you land your first role?
This is a question I feel really strongly about. I remember leaving uni and feeling like there was no way I was going into politics! Not because I didn’t enjoy learning about social policy at the time, it’s just that you leave school and start uni doing a degree you’re interested in, but that doesn’t mean you have to be set that way your whole life! I was always interested in my father’s role as a financial PR expert, so after several PR internships during the uni holidays, I applied for a graduate scheme at the reputable travel PR company, PRCo, and was thrilled when I was accepted two weeks after leaving uni. I’ve never looked back!
The future is definitely freelance, but after 10 years of working in the industry, at what point did you know it was time to go alone?
I always knew I wanted to start my own business, I just needed some experience under my belt beforehand. I worked in several PR and marketing agencies over the years - in everything from travel to lifestyle and F&B. I also worked in-house for a brand as I felt this was a great way to learn the internal logistics of a business before launching my own consultancy.
Top three skills to be effective in the competitive world of PR?
1. Good relationships are everything - start building from day dot
2. Be genuine, so many people in this business aren’t
3. Be passionate - it’s infectious
What does a typical working day look like?
It’s constantly changing. Days can consist of everything from working with clients and managing strategies, to meeting press or relevant businesses to create ideas to cross-market brands. Evenings can be busy as clients host launch events or dinners, but mostly the week days are the busiest as you’re always running around town to catch-up with clients or press.
You use your Dahlia backpack every day when commuting between clients in London. What makes Dahlia your favourite bag for the girl on the go?
I do, I love it! It’s so practical having the laptop compartment as well as the sections for my notebook, keys and other bits and bobs. It’s also stunning - if I had a penny for every time someone asked "where did you get that backpack from?” The fact that on top of all of this, it’s also made from vegan leather, is awesome.
How have you found the transition from working in-house as a Comms Director to working independently for multiple brands?
I’ve always been organised so that’s never been an issue. I ensure my week is planned out quite carefully - I usually have meetings most days, so I create pockets of time around them where I do client work and general email admin. Outside of this, I try and spend some time researching around my client’s industries, and reaching out to new contacts to continually build my network.
In terms of working for one brand versus several, there will always be different challenges. When you work for one brand, you have a consistent train of thought, however your work might have a wider range and be more in-depth. Working for several brands can be tough as you have to juggle multiple strategies and manage the work load that comes with it, however the work is usually much more targeted as you only have a certain amount of hours in the week to get the job done! I must say that despite all of this, I'm constantly learning everyday - you have to push yourself to improve.
You work with some of the biggest fashion and consumer brands, are there any key trends or common areas of focus for 2020?
Sustainability and veganism are certainly buzz words at the moment - and they should be! It’s great to see creative brands emerge with these as their focus. It’s only the start of 2020 - I’m excited to see what’s to come!