The next instalment of our ’10 questions with’ series gets to know our Senior Account Executive, India Spencer. During this series, we’re hoping to give you a real insight into the people on 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?
It’s all about reputation management and ensuring you’re pushing the right messaging to the right audience about your client. I like to think of it like pottery. It’s about being patient and considered to ultimately mould the stakeholders’ perception of the client to align with its values.
2. What do you love about PR? / What excites you the most about work?
First and foremost, I love the people I work with. It makes those early starts and sweaty commutes so worth it when you get to see such a fantastic bunch every day.
I also love the buzz of getting a cracking piece of coverage for a client. It never gets old! It’s so rewarding when you have spent time nurturing a relationship with a journalist, and your client expects an awesome result. When you manage to pull it off, it does feel a little bit like you can do anything.
3. How and why did you get into PR?
Ever since I was about ten years old, I’ve been told by teachers and adults that I ‘really should consider a career in PR’ – I think that’s mainly down to me being so chatty – so when I started seriously thinking about what I wanted to do, I did some research around what it actually was and loved the sound of it. I was fascinated by the idea of building a story around a company and being rewarded with seeing your client/brand in the papers I, and everyone I know, read every day. That’s pretty cool, right?!
Once I made the decision to dive into PR headfirst, I basically took every opportunity that came my way, from fashion and lifestyle to drinks, corporate and capital markets. Every stepping stone has taught me so much and has made me realise just how versatile the industry is. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach which constantly keeps me on my toes.
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 Senior Account Executive, I’m in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly on my accounts on a day-to-day basis. I’m also responsible for keeping a close eye on the news agenda and thinking of where our clients can fit into that and how we can secure them great coverage as a result. But my role is by no means limited to that – Account Executives really do a bit of everything, which is why I love it so much, especially at Houston. Whilst every role comes with its responsibilities, we’re very much focused on growth here and making sure everyone is challenged to give them the opportunity to prove just how capable they are.
5. If you weren’t doing PR, what do you think you would be doing?
I think I’d be a primary school teacher. It was always between that and PR. I love working with children and the idea of making a real, tangible difference in the trajectory of someone’s life. I was never the ‘shining star’ at school which often meant that teachers forgot about me, but the ones that paid attention knew just how capable I was and spurred me on. They’re the ones I still think about today, and in another life, I’d love to be that for someone else.
6. What is a common misconception of working in PR?
‘Oh, so basically you just email journalists all day’….
Quite often, when I tell people I’m in PR, I get this rather withering response, and if I’m being honest, it really annoys me. Yes, a huge part of the job is media relations, but that’s not always as straightforward as it may seem. A lot of time and effort goes into building these relationships, and that shouldn’t be underestimated or devalued.
7. What do you like about working at Houston?
Aside from my colleagues and the culture here, I’ve been so impressed with how proactive and invested Houston has been regarding my development. I started as an intern with very limited experience back in March 2021, which means that in less than two years, I have progressed to a Senior Account Executive. Without tooting my own horn, I am really proud of that.
Of course, progression is mainly down to you, and you can’t just sit back and wait for it to happen, but the support I’ve received along the way has been incredible. I genuinely don’t think it would have been made possible without the team I have around me. It feels like everyone is really rooting for me and that they want to give me every opportunity to succeed.
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?
READ THE NEWS! It is so vital to know what is going on in the world and what the key themes are. When you’re starting out, make sure you’re reading the national titles for your wider knowledge. Then, identify the key sector-relevant publications to your clients so you can focus your attention there.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS! When I started at Houston, the first thing my manager said to me was, “no question is a stupid question, so please just ask”. I really took this at face value, and I have lived by it ever since. If you’re starting out, no one is going to expect you to be an expert straight away, and the only way you can grow and improve is by learning.
9. What did you want to be when you were little/growing up?
Growing up, I always saw myself becoming an Oscar-winning actress, and a little bit of me still wishes I was one. I’ve always loved performing and was a pretty constant fixture in my school plays. I think my defining role was playing the ugly duckling in a reception production of ‘The Ugly Duckling’.
10. If you could have a dinner party with any 5 people (dead or alive), who would they be and why?
- Taylor Swift – if you know me, you know I am a HUGE Swiftie. I think she is one of the most talented individuals of our generation, and her work around making the music industry more accessible and safer for up-and-coming female artists is awesome.
- Bukayo Saka – I’m not really a huge football fan, but I would absolutely love to meet him. His talent is astonishing, and I think he will go down as one of the greats, but he also seems like such a lovely, down-to-earth person.
- Princess Margaret – apparently, she was a hoot at dinner parties, plus I think she’d be a good person to get all the Royal gossip from.
- Viola Davis – I mean, she’s got EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) status! The Help is one of my favourite films of all time, and watching her on screen is totally captivating. I would just love to pick her brains. I also think she’d be great to have around if it ever got awkward at dinner…
- Rodney Douglas-Pennant – he’s not famous, but he’s my step-Grandfather, and I never got to meet him. My Granny has told me so many things about him, and she still lights up like a Christmas tree when she talks about him, almost 30 years since he died.