We think we’ve got some interesting experience and professional backgrounds on the MD Consulting team, so it’s about time we told you a bit more about ourselves. First up is Account Director, Alice, who has been with MD Consulting since 2016.
So Alice…What’s your marketing background?
I’ve always been an avid consumer of news, so short of being a professional newspaper reviewer, PR seemed like a good career choice!
I studied Politics at university and briefly considered doing a masters in Political Communication (I was a big fan of US TV show The West Wing!), but an internship with a local PR firm which specialised in tech PR really sparked my interest in technology and which stories get picked up by the media.
I ended up moving over to work in the marketing department of one of the agency’s clients – a software development business which was working on some really interesting projects including corporate registries and online portals for governments. Part of my job was to find out what the technical project managers and business analysts were working on and tell interesting stories around their uses. So, despite having a general marketing background, I’ve had a PR emphasis to my work.
What ignited your interest in working in the fintech / capital markets space?
Back in that first job, I began blogging regularly on the business of technology. Some of the most interesting tech projects were where there was the biggest challenges – the banks and large financial institutions. I guess this was before the term ‘fintech’ existed, but I knew I liked the ‘finance x technology’ space.
Over the following years, the ‘fintech’ industry was gaining recognition in its own right, and I gradually moved away from tech and towards finance. Spending time with organisations such as Innovate Finance (the UK’s industry body for fintech) was really influential in that shift. By 2015 I was working exclusively in ‘fintech’, and shortly after I joined MD Consulting.
Within this sector, are you a specialist in any particular area?
I like to keep my skills and experience as broad as possible but definitely my tech background is a real asset with some of our more technical clients. If nothing else, it means that I can get my head around complex ideas fairly quickly. Having a really good understanding of our clients and their projects is really essential in PR – journalists often ask sideways questions that you hadn’t specifically prepared for, so being able to explain the project well is really important.
Sum up your approach in three words
Tenacity, tenacity, tenacity!
What does a typical day entail for you?
They say, ‘do what you love’, so my day always starts with reading the news, and to be honest that continues throughout the day. Most mornings I skim read the New York Times, The Daily Telegraph and the South China Morning Post online, and then throughout the day I will dive into the industry news, so publications like City AM, The Financial Times, Regulation Asia, Forbes, Wired, and Finextra to name a few.
I also make sure I read what the journalists I work with regularly are writing, so that I can either suggest that they speak to a client, or just fire an email over if they’ve written something that I personally found really interesting.
I focus much better in the afternoons, so if I’m writing press releases or general copy, I’ll start that after lunch, and fill my mornings with emails, research and catching up with clients and colleagues. PR is fast-paced and I check my emails throughout the day, so I don’t miss any opportunities or requests for comment that might land in my inbox unexpectedly!
Have you had a recent success you’re particularly proud of?
The few months of 2018 were really great. Stories I had been working on for quite a long period finally came to fruition and we had client coverage in Forbes, Saturday print coverage in The Guardian, a Sunday Times supplement and others. Clients were really pleased, and it was a great way to see out the year.
What does your dream client look like?
I’m really lucky to work with such great clients already! A couple of clients have fairly recently expanded out of the UK and Ireland and into south east Asia, which pushed me to work in an entirely new geography. Both campaigns have been really successful, so more work in Asia would be great! And maybe the US which is somewhere I haven’t done much PR work… yet!
Where do you think the future of PR/marketing is heading?
I’m really interested in the future of automation and what that’s going to mean for all professions. A lot of people think it’s only going to affect blue collar jobs, but I couldn’t disagree more. I’ve written a couple of blog posts about how automation is already shaking up journalism and marketing. We’re definitely in the early stages of a new industrial revolution, where specifically ‘human’ skills such as empathy and negotiation skills are going to become increasingly important as we compete with ‘bots’ for jobs.
The media landscape is also changing dramatically as publications change their business models and move away from the News + Advertising model, to a more nuanced advertorial/ paid-for model. This is obviously creating challenges for the consumer around bias, clarity and fake news. But it’s not all bad news, the internet means that anyone with a credit card, an internet connection and enthusiasm can become a media baron – just look at Pete Cashmore, who started tech website Mashable in his bedroom aged 17!
How do you spend your free time outside work?
I’m so glued to a screen during the week, that I try to really switch off over the weekend. Most weekends I’m trying to make the most of living in London, so trying new restaurants and exploring the city on foot. I recently signed up to take part in a charity walk – 85 miles in 24 hours, which reminds me, I’d better get training….