Name: Alison Baldwin
Job title: Managing Director
Employer: Coast Communications Ltd
Find Alison on Twitter: @coastalison.
How did I get started in PR?
I graduated with a BA Hons in Public Relations at Bournemouth University. This was a really useful entry into the industry as the year long industrial placement spent with Nuclear Electric at Dungeness Nuclear Power Station gave me an idea of the direction I wanted to go which at the time was into an in-house role. After graduating in 1994 I was lucky to land a role in the press office of Camelot Group Plc and worked on the launch of the National Lottery and spent over seven years with the company by which time I was the Head of Consumer PR. After I had my first child I decided I wanted to have greater flexibility with my career so I started to freelance, and continued to advise Camelot and I also worked with FT Business / Investors Chronicle Magazine. I then set up Coast Communications in 2003 with my husband Matt when we spotted a gap in the market for firms specialising in supporting professional services clients.
What do I do?
I have a very hands on role for a variety professional services clients which includes monitoring the news agenda and legislative programme for opportunities for expert comment, writing detailed legal articles and press releases plus supporting the in-house marketing team's activities. We effectively become the press office for our clients and support and advise them accordingly on a daily basis.
What motivates me about my job?
The variety is fascinating and I get to work with lots of different people. Working with different professional service firms from lawyers, accountants, planning and property consultants to agricultural experts means there is always something interesting happening in the news agenda.
What skills do I need to do my job?
It goes without saying that you have to have excellent communications skills but also a wider understanding of the market our clients operate in is essential. Professional services firms are a very unique breed to work with and have very specific expectations of the role of an external advisor. If I'm meeting with the managing partners of a firm I have to be able to demonstrate they can trust my advice and judgement and that I know what is going to have an impact on their own clients' decision making and that comes with a long career and varied experience.
What do I want to do next?
The legal services industry is changing and also the global industry is at a really interesting stage so working with more overseas firms would be a great challenge and continuing to help drive the growth of existing clients is really important. When clients set out long term goals, I want to help them to achieve them.
What advice do I have for someone considering a career in PR?
It is good to have a career plan but at times you never know where a role will take you so keeping your mind open to a variety of projects and opportunities is a really good idea to get a broader perspective of the business world. It also helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses. Also learn from the wisdom of others around you as it will make them more likely to listen to you and don't be afraid to ask questions, especially why?