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In Hindsight: Charlotte Brooks, managing director at Mischief on the PRmoment Podcast

On the show today, we welcome Charlotte Brooks, who is the managing director of PR agency Mischief.

This is the latest In our ongoing in hindsight-themed PRmoment Podcasts, where PRmoment founder Ben Smith interviews public relations leaders - where our guests share their in hindsight, secrets that they wish they'd known when they started their careers.

Charlotte’s been at Mischief for five years and took over the managing director role from Greg Jones when he left last year.

Before joining Mischief in 2018, Charlotte had worked for some of London’s finest consumer PR firms, including House PR, The Academy and Launch PR.

Mischief is a consumer PR agency based in London with 35 employees and a turnover of £5 m. Current clients include the likes of Lego, Three and Ocada. Big wins for Mischief this year (2023) were Team GB, Diageo and Channel 4.

Mischief is part of the MHP group. MHP and Mischief became part of Next Fifteen when it acquired Engine in a £77m deal.

Before we start, if you haven’t already, look at our new event PR Masterclass: The Agency Growth Forum.

At this one event, 22 experts will give 11 Masterclasses on essential elements of managing a modern, profitable and successful PR firm.

Also, thanks so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.

Finally, thanks to PRmoment’s data and insight partners, Meltwater, for supporting this podcast.

Here is a summary of what Charlotte and Ben discussed on the show:

3 mins Charlotte reflects on the state of the consumer PR market at the moment.

“This year’s been a tough year…there’s greater scrutineering from procurement than I’ve ever seen before.”

“The majority (of Mischief’s) work is retained work…retainers give you some security.”

5 mins For any PR agency brand connoisseurs out there, of which I imagine there are none - is Mischief now Mischief again, or is it Mischief MHP?

8 mins Why does Charlotte think it’s good to move jobs regularly?

“Life’s too short to be unhappy in a job.”

“You can learn so much by moving (jobs)...it’s been interesting for me to take the learnings from those agencies.”

11 mins How do you know when it's time to change jobs?

Charlotte talks us through the lessons she learnt from her jobs over the years:

Jonny Pitt and Launch PR:

“Working at Launch is like being at the school of Jonny Pitt.”

“Plan what you’re going to say to a client in the lift…don’t talk about the weather; have something interesting to say…be memorable.”

Ginny Paton and House PR:

“Ginny has been a huge mentor for me throughout my career…she is the reason I am where I am today.”

“Some of my best friends now are people I met at House PR.”

16 mins What does a good culture in a PR firm look like?

“PR firm culture pre covid is very different to the culture now.”

Mitch Kaye and Dan Glover at The Academy:

“Their individual strengths are the other one's weakness…they taught me to understand what you're good at.”

Frankie Cory and Greg Jones Mischief:

“Frankie was very much work hard, play hard - she taught me that you’re never too senior to get your hands dirty!”

“Creativity ran through everything we did when Greg was in charge at Mischief.”

Alex Bigg at MHP Group:

“Alex is a brilliant businessman.”

25 mins A discussion about how Mischief has retained its position as a leading consumer PR firm despite 4/5 leadership changes at the firm since it launched nearly 20 years ago.

28 mins Charlotte reflects on some of the negatives she has seen during her time in PR:

  • The difference in employee experience between an owner-led business and a group-owned business.

  • Be careful about which accounts you pitch for.

  • Having more autonomy in a group-owned firm.

33 mins Charlotte tries to name her favourite ever account!

“I’ve been fortunate in my career to work on brilliant accounts, apart from one blip where I worked on an airport parking account. Never again!”

35 mins Charlotte reflects on the competition for talent fluctuations we’ve seen over the past couple of years and the increasing specialisation in public relations.

“The churn has settled now. This year has been a lot calmer.”

41 mins Are consumer PR firms on the front or the back foot when competing for integrated earned media campaigns across social?

43 mins Charlotte gives her predictions on the state of the consumer PR market for 2024.

“I imagine next year will be pretty flat…we’ll continue to take a fewer, bigger, better approach to pitching.”

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