PROSPECT PRESENTS NIKI WHEELER


Prospect Presents Niki Wheeler, Director at Launch PR. We gets an insight into her role and life at Launch.

What has been your proudest PR moment? 

Standing in Trafalgar Square during the Poppy Appeal each year alongside our Legion client has been a fantastically proud moment for a number of years.

We’re lucky to work in a business where our project mindset allows us to have lots of proud moments through from appraisal time when we can recognise and reward people who’ve performed well to seeing a fantastic piece of coverage most mornings the team has achieved.  

Who in the industry do you most admire?

I consider myself extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to work with visionary clients who’ve also acted as fantastic mentors and sounding boards. 

If I’m allowed to name a few who I admire I’d say Helen Dickinson (formerly John Lewis Head of Press and PR), Robert Lee ( Assistant Director Marketing and Communications at The Royal British Legion), Sheila Williams (BP Group Press Officer) and Emma Gilpin-Jacobs (former Director of Global Communications at the FT who is now working with Nick Clegg). They have all been great role models who I continue to learn from and admire. 

What three attributes make the perfect Launch DNA? 

Lively, accountable and hardworking – though great results, creativity and intellectual curiosity goes a long way when it comes to our ‘project mindset’ http://www.launchpr.co.uk/careers/    

It is great to hear the team provide feedback on whether a candidate is ‘Launchy’ or not – which shows that there is a really good understanding of our project mindset, culture and values here.

If you weren’t in PR, what would you be doing?

I’d be a retailer without a doubt. I had some great jobs at Habitat, Body Shop and Gap when I was studying which gave me hands on sales and customer services experience both of which can come in pretty handy when you are staffing events. 

I also loved answering customer questions when I worked on seasonal photoshoots for the likes of John Lewis and Waitrose and its great to keep an eye on what is really going on on the high street through the BDO High Street Sales Tracker which we’ve worked on at Launch for a number of years now. 

What’s the best advice you have ever been given?

Outside the PR business, I heard a salesperson say ‘if you do what you always do, you’ll get what you always got’ which applies in any fast-moving and innovative business. 

Delia Hyde at Rain Communications (my first boss) gave me some tremendous practical advice early on in my career – largely based around organising a ‘to do list’ and hitting the phones…

Johnny Pitt (our CEO at Launch) has also taught me that thinking ambitiously, focusing on great ideas, avoiding a pedestrian approach and focusing on really enjoying what we do are all hugely important.

Who would be your dream client?

I’m a country girl living in London and so previous work with The National Trust and Waitrose and current clients including Ampleforth and Weatherbys tick lots of boxes – but if a food retailer, Aga or Le Creuset ever need some help – they know where I am!

There has been a lot of talk recently around generations Y’s attitude towards work, as an experienced and successful  PR professional what piece of advice would you give to Graduates and junior PR’s?  

Being well prepared at interview stage is really important – whether it is bringing a hard copy of an up to date and accurate CV, examples of coverage you may have achieved during an internship or simply having some good questions is always fantastic.

Being cheerful, lively and hardworking – mucking in and asking what else you can do to help is also seriously important.  Lots of learning in PR is ‘on the job’ and it is the people who really get stuck in who inspire confidence and make their mark early on.

What’s your favourite campaign by another agency?

I love what Charlotte Dolman (who I talent spotted when she was on work experience at my old agency) has done with her happy egg client at Mischief.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the PR industry?

It always has to be attracting the very best talent and playing to people’s strengths whether it is creating fantastic content, being a great project manager, driving great media relations or digital work or creativity.  Demonstrating the commercial impact of a PR campaign is also critically important but is perhaps becoming slightly easier in a world of digital communications. 

You have an impressive history of career longevity , what makes a happy working environment and keeps staff motivated? 

Helping people to understand the vision of an agency and the important role that they play within this.  Also having fun and making sure we celebrate success.

What do you do for R&R?

I’m a recent yoga convert but love to socialise, try new places to eat and drink (we’re seriously spoilt in Soho), make cakes, walk to work, go the gym, travel and read as much as I can.

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