Being ambitious, smart and hardworking are the key qualifications that Cut Communicatons’ Nina Gardiner has needed to succeed in PR

Reporting, writing and communicating is in Nina Gardiner’s blood as she comes from a family of journalists: “My mother was a Fleet Street fashion illustrator and my dad was a well-known tabloid journalist. They were extremely focused on education, but I was the least interested out of their three children, I failed the 11-plus, in fact I failed all my exams. So my parents decided I should have a private education, which meant they then had to send the lot of us to private schools. I was a rebel, because all I wanted to do was earn money. I left school at 17, but my parents persuaded me to do some sort of training, so I chose to learn the trade of window dressing.”

Gardiner lost interest in window dressing when a tutor told her that she would never get a job in Harrods or Harvey Nichols, but would have to work in the provinces. This was not an option as far as she was concerned. Luckily, she heard about a job going in the Bond Street press office of cosmetics firm Yardley which set her in the right direction.

“Once I was in the press office I met someone who put me up for a job in travel PR, and that was it. I have been in the travel PR business ever since. My first job lasted ten years because I had found what I wanted to do and the company I worked for became one of the key travel PR companies in the UK.” It was while working here that Gardiner met and married one of her clients, who was in the airline industry.

The next move for Gardiner was a big one, in terms of distance at least, when her husband landed a job in Hong Kong. Keen to continue her career here, Gardiner ran and built the Peninsular Hotel Group’s Asia PR operation. Although she loved the lifestyle in Hong Kong, her husband wanted to return to the UK. Once home, Gardiner craved independence and set up on her own. Her agency, now called Cut Communications, is a fully integrated marketing services agency, specialising in public relations, media advertising and media planning and buying.

Discussing why she has flourished in PR, Gardiner says: “I understood media from an early age thanks to my background. I learnt how newspapers worked from my father, and this certainly gave me a head start.”

Being such an enthusiast for PR, Gardiner is keen to share her passion by encouraging new people into the industry: “Every year I take in the offspring of my friends, I always take on graduates over the summer. Everyone that has come to me has gone on to have a career in PR. I get so much pleasure from that. This year I have a girl returning after finishing her A levels that first came to me when she was 16. She could go travelling, but instead wants to spend six months working here.”

Gardiner believes that working and experience is the best education for a career in PR, and says that she doesn’t know any women in her group of close friends in the industry who have been to university. And she doesn't think it is just coincidence that another thing they all have in common is that they are highly successful.

Nina Gardiner, CEO, Cut Communications

Creative Moment Awards 2020