Illuminate Communications founder Helen Beckett describes her day
Date: 11 July 2012 16:48
7.30am: The cat is out of the bag! One of my Burmese house cats escapes this morning, so I spend a comedy half hour with my bottom in the air, head down, coaxing him out from under a huge fir tree before the foxes get him. Is that a caterpillar in my hair? If this was Thursday evening last week I would be telling you I was wearing a beautiful Betsey Johnson dress at the F1 Grand Prix Ball in aid of Clic Sargent, rubbing shoulders with media and F1 royalty, but now I’m back to the Good Life of my ample garden, among my pea shoots and beetroots, waving a pouch of Felix towards a soggy brown cat.
8.00am: Cat and I have both dried off and so we settle down to our breakfasts. Toast and news for me: both radio and online news. I always have Radio 2 or 4 or 6 on, a Twitter feed running and I regularly check the main news sites as the day goes on. I also subscribe to daily summaries such as Editorial Intelligence, which rounds up what the columnists are saying, and I receive tailored news feeds relevant to my clients such as Confused.com. I have a desk at home, where I live in a gorgeous rural village on the border of Kent and Greater London. However, I’m just a short train journey from London Bridge and I enjoy working alongside like-minded people, so I have started desk sharing too. Later today I will be going into Forster Communication’s offices – it has kindly welcomed me there to its hub space. I also belong to a group called Kindred HQ which holds co-working “jellies” and I use the CIPR’s membership area from time to time.
9.00am: I have a network of contacts who make working remotely not only more fun, but more connected too. So a writer friend and I swap to-do lists every Monday, and try to be honest with one another about the pressure points. It’s a great start to the week and she is a trained life coach so she helps me stay focused. In less than a month I am taking on my first full-time recruit so preparing for his arrival is high on my list. I also review a friend’s daughter’s portfolio this morning for her, as she has an interview coming up. Her PDF presentation is so much more slick than the Pritt-Sticked scrapbook of cuttings I lugged around in 1999.
9.30am-1.00pm: Researching prospective clients and agreeing on some timescales for new projects. The warm leads include an educational website for parents and childminders, an Indian asset management company and a large well-respected professional body in London.
1.00pm-2.00pm: My fiancé has a rare day at home so he makes me lunch and updates me on his progress. In his spare time he is mending an elderly ride-on lawnmower known as Wheel Horse. Men have their sheds and I have a book group. We meet once a month, and we’re currently reading The Great Gatsby, although not-so-secretly most of us have downloaded 50 Shades of Grey too, just to see what all the fuss is about – now there is a good example of PR, whether the book turns out to be any good or not (none of us will admit to having read it yet!)
2.00pm-3.00pm: I blag a lift to the station from my other half and make my way into London, using the commuting time to respond to emails, read some more news and research the event I am attending tonight. It’s the launch of an apprenticeship scheme for London and I’ve been invited by the PRCA.
3.00pm: Sign in to Forster’s welcoming offices and enjoy a cup of tea at my new desk as I get to know some more of its team. This is just week two of using its hub space and it’s perfect timing as my main contact there is also attending the PRCA event at Sky Bar tonight so I will be in good company.
3.30-6.00pm: I build some slides for a workshop which I’m going to deliver in a few weeks. I love running brainstorming sessions and have done so for very well-known organisations including Google and Directgov. Working with teams to generate new ideas is very motivating – in many cases the in-house team can find that Eureka! moment themselves, they just need to have someone shine some light on it for them. That’s what I am good at.
6.00pm: Despite all good intentions to walk across the Millennium Bridge to the PRCA launch event, I end up persuading my friend to let me jump into a cab. I have peep-toe high heels on and it’s raining. The company I’m hot-desking at is very eco-minded and I know it will make me a better person in that respect … eventually.
6.30pm: Lots of familiar faces appear at the party, so I air-kiss my way across the room in clichéd PR style, greeting former colleagues from the days I worked in larger agencies. The PRCA initiative is a real boost for the industry and hopefully to the jobs market. As I am about to take on my first member of staff, this is great timing for me to be thinking about apprenticeships.
8.30pm: Having caught up with friends and contacts old and new, eaten a little sushi and had a nice cold glass of wine, I plan my journey home where I will feed the cats, hopefully watch a film and unwind in my pyjamas. The rain has dispersed and I decide to get into the eco frame of mind, striding over the bridge on foot in the too-high heels, crossing the river, enjoying our beautiful city.