Grab your opportunities says Hotwire’s Alex MacLaverty

Alex MacLaverty,  UK group managing director at agency Hotwire Public Relations has worked with more than 100 clients, regularly speaks at industry events and previously ran Hotwire’s offices in Spain and Italy. Here she discusses how she fell into PR; describes her careers highs and lows; and offers advice for those just starting out.

MacLaverty says that she first got into PR completely by accident: “I turned up for an interview that I thought was for a sales role, and when they asked me why I wanted to do PR, I managed to blag it so successfully that I was offered the job that afternoon. Which is probably the mark of a natural PR person!“

Since then MacLaverty has had a diverse PR career, saying she has held between ten to 15 different positions, despite having worked for a handful of companies: “Technology, consumer, corporate, B2B, CSR, international … from banks to plastic surgeons, you name it I’ve probably done it. It’s kept things interesting as well as given me a clear idea of what works and what doesn’t.”

Her enthusiasm has helped drive her career forward, whilst her fascination with new technological innovation helps fuel her passion for doing PR. MacLaverty explains: “I absolutely love the fact that our industry never stands still. There is always a new technology, client, discipline or competitor to get to grips with. It’s never easy and of course it’s hard work, but at the moment I genuinely feel we are moving so far away from the standard, traditional agency model that the sky’s the limit. Some of the results we’re getting from our clients by using a more scientific mix of media relations, digital engagement, ATL and design and build are truly astonishing. To finally be able to see and prove a direct link between our work and the clients’ business results is deeply satisfying.”

Discussing why she joined Hotwire over 11 years ago, MacLaverty says that the agency had a reputation as a forward-thinking, ambitious kind of agency, so when she got the opportunity to move here from a three-person team, she was delighted. She adds, “I had to take a demotion to do it, but it was clear Hotwire was going places and for someone like me that gets bored easily, I knew I needed that kind of opportunity. I’ve been very well supported by some incredible bosses and training, and of course the teams I work with are brilliant. The agency is constantly evolving, but we’ve managed to keep that boutique, start-up agency vibe despite now having 200 people around the world. The litmus test for me is that nearly 11 years later, I’m still here – and I still find every day as exciting and challenging as when I first started.”

When it comes to giving advice to PR newbies, MacLaverty believes the most important thing is to use your initiative: “Don’t wait to be told what to do or to be given that dream client – go out there and grab the opportunities. Think your client’s boring? Find a news angle that makes them interesting. Sick of doing the reporting? Suggest a better way to do it. Want to work for a particular brand? Network until you get to meet them! It’s a fast-paced industry and it really is what you make of it.”