10 questions with Houston Director of Capital Markets, Kay Larsen

The next instalment of our ’10 questions with’ series gets to know our Director of Capital Markets, Kay Larsen. During this series we’re hoping we can give you a real insight into the people in our team, the type of personalities within the Digital Marketing & PR industry and what the various roles involve.

1. What does ‘public relations’ mean to you?

Fundamentally, PR is about reputation. Consistency of messaging that addresses all stakeholders is central to building credibility and trust. My role is to advise my clients on how this can be achieved and, crucially, be maintained over the long term.

2. What do you love about PR? / What excites you the most about work?

I started my career as a financial journalist, and I’ve always been fascinated and inspired by business leaders. Since moving into comms 16 years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of interesting and exciting businesses. It’s a real privilege to work with dynamic management teams, helping them develop effective comms strategies.

I also love agency life. I really enjoy the day-to-day stimulation that comes from working with a great team of committed and entrepreneurial colleagues, providing great client service whilst building our own business too.

3. How and why did you get into PR?

Whilst I was working as a journalist, I was in regular contact with several financial PRs who impressed me with their grasp of their clients’ issues and their ability to explain the finer points of strategy and industry dynamics. The opportunity to use my journalism skills in a different and fulfilling way encouraged me to move to the “dark side” myself. Although many years have now passed since I left the newsroom, I’m still mindful of the deadline pressures that journalists face and the crucial role that PRs can play to ensure that media coverage is properly informed by up-to-date information and context.

4. Typically, what does your role at Houston involve? / What is your role, and can you give a brief run-down of what you do?

As a Director within our Capital Markets practice, I primarily advise companies that are listed on the London Stock Exchange, businesses considering an IPO and unlisted growth companies seeking to raise funding. Put simply, we work with clients to effectively articulate their investment case and develop engagement programmes that will enhance recognition and understanding of that investment case by key stakeholders. Another key element of my role, however, is to nurture and develop the skills and strengths of our talented and entrepreneurial team, drawing on my decades of experience in comms in their various shapes and forms. It’s a really rewarding part of the job!

5. If you weren’t doing PR, what do you think you would be doing?

I lived and worked in Japan for eight years when I was younger and whilst I was there, I developed a deep appreciation of ceramics. More recently, I’ve been spending a lot of my free time making pottery, so if I wasn’t working in PR, I’d probably be at the pottery wheel. I’m quite gregarious though, so I’d need to be in a shared studio, working alongside others and exchanging ideas and inspiration.

6. What is a common misconception of working in PR?

When I first moved into PR, I thought my life would be an endless round of journalist lunches and champagne receptions! Within a few days I realised just how wrong I was! I also realised very quickly that much of the heavy lifting takes place behind the scenes, working with our clients develop and evolve positioning and consistent messaging.

7. What do you like about working at Houston?

My clients and my colleagues! We work with some great companies and it’s a pleasure to be able to play a role in helping them to achieve their ambitions. And my colleagues are fantastic! They’re committed, determined and highly professional – and always excellent company on a Houston night out.

8. If you had any advice for someone starting out in PR, what would it be? / Do you have any career advice to give to someone interested in PR?

For me, the key to effective comms is to be one step ahead so you can see what’s coming down the track and plan accordingly. If you want to do PR well, you need to consume as much news as you can, on all platforms, so you’re aware of breaking stories and up to speed on broader themes and trends at all times.

9. What did you want to be when you were little/growing up?

When I was growing up I loved news and I loved writing so journalism was the obvious path for me. I’d never really heard of PR until I started working in a newsroom and I had no idea just how rewarding a career in comms would turn out to be.

10. If you could have a dinner party with any 5 people (dead or alive), who would they be and why?

Sarina Wiegman – the manager of the Lionesses. It’s fantastic to see women’s football finally getting the recognition it deserves!

James Timpson – such an inspiring business leader, who has established the template for meaningful corporate citizenship.

Magdalene Odundo – a Kenya-born, UK based artist who creates beautiful and timeless ceramics.

Martha Lane Fox – she co-founded lastminute.com in 1998 and has since become a strong advocate for women in the male dominated technology sector.

Nitin Sawhney – a British musician who draws on his cultural heritage to create a unique global sound that will be the perfect soundtrack for our lively exchange of ideas.