Apart from a brief spell when she wanted to be a criminal psychologist, Charlotte Beeching, head of communications at London City Airport, always liked the idea of working with words. Here we grab five minutes of her time to quiz her about her career highlights and ask her to share some PR wisdom
What did you want to be when you were a teenager?
I went through a few phases (criminal psychologist was a weird one – too much Robbie Coltrane on TV), but the one I kept coming back to was journalist. I loved using my imagination and was always writing stories, I even wrote a pantomime for my class to perform. My other big love was pop culture so I had a dream of combining the two.
Would your teenage self be pleased with how your career has panned out?
I’ve worked hard and am proud of what I’ve achieved, and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. I still have goals and aspirations, which keep me motivated.
Why did you decide to work in PR? And how did you get your first break?
I studied Business Studies at university and specialised in marketing, which had a PR module. I remember some people from a local PR agency coming in to talk to us about the profession and what their jobs entailed day-to-day, which helped bring it to life as a possible career. After I graduated, I was fortunate enough to be offered a week’s work experience with an agency in Birmingham where I lived. That was extended to two weeks and at the end of that they offered me a permanent position.
Have you got any regrets about any decisions you have made?
No regrets. I definitely haven’t got everything right, but every decision is a step towards where you are today.
What have been your career highlights? I’ve had some great moments where I’ve felt really lucky to do the job I do. Going inside Number 10 when I worked in Whitehall was a stand-out moment; running a press day for the Jamaican track and field team was another, and at the airport having the chance to work across Europe. Above all, I’ve been fortunate to work with some really talented people and share some fantastic experiences with them.
What are the particular challenges of your present role at London City Airport? One of the biggest challenges of my role is also the thing I love most about it – it’s so varied.
More broadly, the way people consume information has changed so dramatically that the challenge we all face as PR professionals is staying ahead of that, keeping our work fresh and relevant and engaging audiences. That’s a challenge whatever industry and whoever the audience you’re trying to reach – be it for PR, issues management, internal comms or social media.
What advice would you give anyone starting out in PR?
It’s a small world and it’s amazing how often you cross paths with old contacts. Build and nurture relationships. Not only can you learn from those people and experiences, you just might find that in a few years a familiar face pops up with a great opportunity.
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