Career Code: Meet the PR Guru Who Spends Her Entire Day Multi-Tasking
In honour of our co-founders Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s latest book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career ($24), we’re running an interview series featuring 17 questions (to parallel the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of inspirational female leaders who are at the top of their fields. So far, we’ve tapped Lisa Messenger, Pip Edwards, Kelly Wearstler, and more. Next up? Annalise Brown.
Do you ever watch the clock at work? We’ve all been there. Finding what you’re passionate about and making it work is something we all dream of and who better to talk to to find some motivation than PR guru Annalise Brown of Hidden Characters. Initially studying law, then going on to becoming a managing director at just 32, Brown has great insight into the business of media and how quickly things can change. From being a shareholder in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia and playing a pivotal role in its early success, you may question how she even has time to eat and sleep…
We chatted with Brown to find out how she juggles it all, the top five qualities she looks for when she’s hiring, the best career advice she’s ever received, and everything in-between. Aspiring girl bosses, read on.
A juggling act. I wear three hats to work every day to split my time between the managing director of Hidden Characters, head of PR for M&C Saatchi Group, and the chair of our industry body, the PRC. In addition to the different roles I play, our business changes as the media does—minute to minute. You need to know what is going to happen within the news cycle that is going to affect your clients.
It sounds cliché, but no two days are ever the same. Working in a group as diverse as M&C Saatchi means an “ordinary” day can involve cracking strategic territories for our clients, putting out “fires”, prepping anyone from a high-level CEO to a Hollywood personality for a media interview, or finding the right office space, chairing industry events/talks, addressing a potential media blow-up, deep research into new business prospects, and collaborating with the greater team to crack a difficult client brief.
I often finish the day thinking it was completely different to how I had envisaged it that morning.
A sleeveless grey pantsuit from Country Road. Totally at odds with the jeans and tops I ended up wearing every day to that job.
I believe each experience in your career offers something new and unique to takeaway—I’ve never believed in regrets. However, I could have been more of a sponge along the way. I’ve had the opportunity to work directly with the best in the business, starting with Deeta Colvin. I sometimes think I didn’t appreciate the opportunity of working with such great and influential people as much as I could have.
I read, run, and listen to podcasts—not all at the same time. I’m a firm believer in finding inspiration from a range of art forms and literature styles. I read two or three books at the same time and balance them with my favourite magazines, Collective Hub and Vanity Fair. I also have a have a secret obsession with homewares and interiors. I love their ability to totally change the mood and feel of any space. I will often watch, read, research design trends for hours.
I wake up really early and go first to my calendar to see the day ahead, then straight to social media and news sites—in our industry we need to know intimate details about a range of industries before everyone else does. I then head off to the gym before returning home, getting ready quite quickly, preparing a quick smoothie and racing out the door. I don’t like to waste time in the morning.
In the evening I leave work by six, I’m a big believer in work/life balance and encourage the whole team to do so. We have instigated a rule that there be no emails between 7pm and 7am, if something is urgent our clients can call or text us. I’ll either grab a bite with my partner, friends, or colleagues, attend a work function, or enjoy a couple of hours relaxing by cooking dinner and watching an hour of mindless reality television. I usually do an hour or two work in the evening, where I have relatively no distractions. Then I try and go to bed early and read.