PR Profile: Susie Campbell's switch from the Navy to PR
You started out working in the Navy before moving to PR. Can you tell me about the work you were doing in the Navy and what prompted your career shift?
I was in the British Royal Navy for 12 years, and towards the latter part of my career I was put in charge of a couple of large projects which involved PR and marketing. I was working alongside civilian contractors, so publicists, marketers and designers. I worked quite closely with them and really enjoyed it. It was very practical, learning on the job; I have no formal training or qualifications in PR whatsoever. Everything I’ve done I’ve learnt by doing it.
When I left the Navy I transferred over to Australia. I was going to take some maternity leave because I’d just had a second baby, but I started chatting to some local business owners and they wanted some help with marketing, and I suggested PR to them. So I literally just started helping some local businesses, did a bit of PR for them just in local papers, local radio, that sort of thing and it snowballed from there. Within about a year I had a handful of clients and I thought I ought to do this properly. I fell into it, I had no intention of doing it but discovered I was actually quite successful at it and it played to my strengths.
What skills have you been able to carry over into PR?
I think the biggest one is my ability to build relationships and build connections. I had to do that a lot in the military, whether we were overseas or on a warship with 200 other people, you’ve got to work together and you’ve got to get the best out of people and use the skills around you. It seemed to translate to the PR world. It’s building relationships with journalists, understanding what they need and putting yourself in their shoes to be able to give them what they need and make their job easier.
I think sometimes you need a bit of resilience and thick skin, because you can’t take offence if a publicist says “no it’s not for me”. I know a lot of people take it personally but you just can’t.
And I guess a skill I’ve always had innately, growing up I always had it as a child, was the ability to spot stories and be able to tell stories. Obviously the media is all about telling stories and I’ve always loved doing that and been able to spot a media-worthy story opportunity.
Tell me about starting up Hullabaloo PR.
It started out as being called Little Black Book Marketing, because it was all about connections, and I did a lot of writing, a lot of content so not just PR. But as it evolved I was doing more and more of the media side, and helping people get into the newspaper and radio and TV. So I rebranded about three or four years ago, and became Hullabaloo PR with more of a focus on the PR side of things.
What do you specialise in at Hullabaloo PR, and what are your unique strongpoints?
I think because I’ve got such a varied background, not only in the military but I also started out as a teacher, that I can relate to many people. I’ve travelled the world, I’ve met so many people from so many different backgrounds. It really helps when you meet a new client in an industry, because generally I’ve got some knowledge of them or where they’re from or what they’re about. So it makes me quite versatile. We don’t niche into a particular industry, we work with all sorts of people. And I love that, because I learn so much.
I love working with the individual experts. I’ve worked with a battlefield historian, which is perfect for me with my military background. I’m working currently with an expert in teaching people how to walk and undertake expeditions, staying injury free – again within my areas of interest being a trail runner and exercise enthusiast. I’m also working with a children’s author and again, love working with children and reading stories! With such a varied group of people to help, noo two days are the same and it’s fun and exciting. And because I am passionate about business owners using PR and harnessing the power of it for growth, I am currently working on a rather exciting project, completely new with nothing of its kind out there, to help growing businesses make use of PR as a consistent strategy!
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