Weber Shandwick’s, Lisa Pantelli describes how tenacity helps you get into PR

Communicating, being with people and inspiring others are important for Lisa Pantelli, head of employee engagement and change management practice at PR firm Weber Shandwick. In fact she says that for her, PR is not merely about media coverage, but rather is about engaging people with brands or issues and building advocacy.

Being a people person and a communicator, Pantelli always knew that she wanted a career that involved working with others. She says: “I went through a phase of wanting to be a lawyer and before that I wanted to be an interpreter. They would have been great choices if I had had the patience for law school and could speak more than one language fluently! Fortunately, I realised that I wanted to work in PR and communications before I started university, so that kept me focused on how I needed to get where I wanted to be. What I wouldn’t have predicted was that I’d have a passion for employee engagement and change management as I didn’t plan to specialise in this field but I’m so glad that I did.”

Once Pantelli realised she was interested in PR, she used sheer force of will and determination to get her foot in the door. Pantelli explains: “I lobbied the PR degree course leader for three months at Bournemouth University to let me on the course as I hadn’t secured enough A-level points. I even started going to its lectures, doing the assignments – I know it was slightly ‘stalkerish’, but I refused to believe that two points short of its entry level requirement meant that I wasn’t good enough.”

“Eventually I was accepted onto it. At the same time, I contacted everyone that I knew who worked in PR, no matter how tenuous the link, to secure internships. I spent many a holiday burning hundreds of CDs, spray-mounting coverage and stuffing press releases into envelopes …”

Pantelli now enjoys working for an established firm such as Weber Shandwick, she says, first and foremost, because she gets to work with so many different people. She adds: “They are all experts in their fields and everyone who works here has the opportunity to learn and grow every day. Also, there is a culture of entrepreneurship. The management supports innovation and creativity so if there’s something you want to achieve, the opportunity is there, you just need to make it happen.”

Discussing her immediate plans for the future, Pantelli says she has three main priorities for this year: grow and evolve thought leadership, expand the team and its specialist knowledge and of course – win more business. 

When asked what piece of advice Pantelli can offer for those starting out in PR, she keeps it short and simple: “Don’t run before you can walk, learn from others and never be surprised by anything!”

Lisa Pantelli, head of employee engagement and change management practice, Weber Shandwick

Creative Moment Awards 2021