Helen Lambell was a journalist for eight years before setting up her own PR business. She understands what makes a good story – what journalists and the target readership want to read. Many agencies come from a marketing starting point and tell the journalist what the client wants to tell. Which is often not the same thing. Yes, of course the aim is to get the message out there – but the way to do is to provide compelling copy that people want to read! And sometimes the client needs to be persuaded that this is the best way. Ego stroking is not what Splash is all about!! (You have been warned!)
What sort of companies do you work for?
Medium-sized to large companies with a turnover of at least £500,000. One client turns over £60 million a year, has 700 staff and has been named one of the 1,000 Best Companies to Inspire Europe. I work with house builders, commercial property developers, estate agencies and companies working in the wider construction sector.
Describe your ideal client
Interesting, broadminded, fun, enterprising, adventurous, easy to work with, thoughtful, polite, trustworthy. Someone who I would be friends with. Grumpy, self-important, controlling people will be rejected. I mean it!
Describe your ideal project
A combination of lots of website news stories, a healthy smattering of social media, an element of press (by which I mean paper and online) coverage, plenty of photo opportunities and a monthly e-newsletter. Stories will be a combination of using topical issues as a springboard from which to showcase the client as an expert in his or her industry sector (this is called newsjacking these days), human interest pieces, advice, opinion and direct company news stories.
Do your clients stay with you for a long time?
Yes!! Years and years. So I must be doing something right. They say nice things about me too. And I don’t even buy them Christmas presents. So it must be love!
Who will carry out the work?
Me! It’s very much a personal relationship. So if we don’t get on it won’t work! If we do it’ll be fantastic. I get on very well with everyone I work with and treat them like friends (although I do send them a bill every month!). I have turned people down who I sensed didn’t share my values… don’t be one of those!
How do you prefer to communicate with your clients?
On the whole email is the most effective means of communication. But I use messenger, What’sApp, text, Skype, WebEx, sometimes (gasp) the phone. And from time to time we even meet in the flesh!
How do you communicate with the press?
Almost always by email initially. As an ex journalist, it’s an absolute nuisance to have PR people phone you and try to interest you in a story when you’re mid-way through writing something! Believe me – I have been that disgruntled reporter!
What qualifications do you have?
I have a French degree from Warwick University – but as I don’t write my press releases in French that may not sound that relevant. Nevertheless it’s a BA Hons from one of the country’s finest higher education establishments and it is a beautiful language.
How long has Splash PR been around?
It celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2019!! So, a blooming long time!
How long have you been in this career?
For 32 years – since leaving (Warwick) university. Journalism and PR is all I’ve ever done (well, apart from writing a few Radio 4 shortlisted plays many years ago)
What is your professional background?
I was a journalist for eight years – four as an editor before deciding to use those same journalistic skills for businesses instead. I didn’t like doorknocking bereaved people and thought PR sounded much nicer (it is!)
Do you enjoy writing?
Would I really have been doing this job for the last 32 years if I didn’t? As an aside, many years ago I was shortlisted to write a Radio 4 six-part comedy series and two one off comedy dramas. I was also shortlisted to write scripts for Ragdoll Productions – who make Brum, Teletubbies and In the Night Garden. Alas, shortlisting was as far as it got. So near – yet effectively so far! PR is very similar though. One creates characters, scenarios, invents quotes and writes a compelling story.
Helen Pen Wizard. And Wordy Queens of Queens. Both royal and magical!