Journalists and PRs. Like Montagues and Capulets, Tom and Jerry and intelligent conversations after 10 pints of VB, they are almost always opposed. But not always.
The best PRs help journalists, rather than hide away behind out-of-office replies and media hotline phone numbers. The best journalists, rather than treating everything that comes from a PR as bunk, work with them to help highlight the best and most interesting stories to their readers, rather than regurgitating spin.
It’s worth remembering that we deal with PRs every single day here at B&T and, for some of the names on this list, multiple times within a single morning while we’re on the news treadmill and trying to understand exactly what has happened. Sometimes, our journos and these PRs will work together over the course of months, as we research and probe into industry topics. These relationships should always be productive and never fractious. It’s worth remembering that we need them as much as they need us and vice versa.
Is this simply a list of our friends in the industry? No. Contrary to popular belief we have plenty of friends (or so everyone tells us). But, put it this way, we don’t tend to be friends with PRs who aren’t good at what they do.
Oh, and you’ll notice that some of these people will have worked at B&T in the past. But, you’ll also notice that many more who have worked at other publications — there’s no favouritism here.
Over the coming weeks and months, B&T will be releasing its full list of Best of the Best Top 10 lists once a week. Stand by for our take of the best in the business in the following disciplines: Recruiter, Public Relations – Consumer, Technologist, Strategist – Media, Project Manager, Mentor, Media Director, Developer, Casting Director, Industry Association Chief, Experiential Producer, Social Change Maker, Journalist, HR, Planning Director – Media, and Marketer.
Anyway, that’s enough of the caveats and arse-covering. Here are the Best of the Best Trade PRs in reverse order:
10) Miranda Ward
Senior communications manager, dentsu
Ward’s time at dentsu has coincided with a series of exceptional results for its agencies. Having served many years on the journalism side of the aisle (with a brief two-year diversion to manage Nine’s comms) Ward understands how to manage relationships with journalists better than most while still getting her agencies front-and-centre. Of course, with the work regularly being produced by the holdco’s agencies wins column inches on its own merits, Ward ensures that the more trying demands of journalists are never missed.
9) Alex Hayes
Principal, Clear Hayes
After a long career in the world of trade publishing (including at B&T), Hayes moved to the dark side back in 2017 and founded Clear Hayes Consulting. However, the business is far from a simple PR agency. It consults for some of the biggest brands in Australia on their PR strategy and gets the news out about the most important companies and organisations in the country. Among its extensive client list are TikTok, Yahoo, Akcelo and UnLtd. But, it isn’t just the big names that Clear Hayes focuses on — its CHPR service helps small businesses and independent agencies get their names into the minds of the people that matter, via our fingertips.
8) Joanna Stevens
Head of communications, Australia, New Zealand & Pacific Islands, Meta
There are few bigger businesses with a greater impact on the world we live and work in than Meta. With that level of power, of course, comes great scrutiny. In her role at Meta, Stevens is the frontline between journalists from the trade and consumer side alike, all baying for blood, and the organisation within. Rarely a day goes by when the B&T team is not on the phone with Stevens ironing out contentious details or receiving an important about one of its essential platforms to the world of digital advertising. Truly, Stevens has an almost thankless task but she manages it with aplomb and humour.
7) Adrian Motte
Senior communications manager, Nine
Working for one of the biggest TV networks in the country is exciting, no doubt. Heading up the comms for the trade side of the business, however, comes with a range of challenges. Attention to detail is essential given the scrutiny that the company faces, as is an appreciation of the entire ecosystem that surrounds the networks. Motte hurdles over problems that the business faces, explaining and understanding the demands of journalists while ensuring that Nine’s message gets out to our influential audience. Plus, he does it all with humour and a smile on his face.
6) Azadeh Williams
Founder and managing partner, AZK Media
It’s safe to say that Williams is a B&T favourite. She won our 2021 Best of the Best award for Public Relations. She has regularly been recognised in our Women in Media Awards and our Women Leading Tech awards for her entrepreneurship in the marketing space. Her CV reads like a who’s who of publishing, having worked at IDG, The Times and Reuters. Now, as the founder and managing director of AZK media, she continues to deliver brilliant results for a list of tech-focused clients at a time when there have never been more eyes on the sector.
5) Neil Shoebridge
Co-founder and partner, SKMG
Shoebridge is a legend within the world of media and marketing. Formerly the marketing and media editor of the Australian Financial Review, Shoebridge made the leap to PR more than a decade ago, taking the helm at Network 10 as director of corporate and public communications. However, in 2018 Shoebridge and Andrew Knowles left 10 to start out on their own and formed the Shoebridge Knowles Media Group over a beer at The Dolphin in Surry Hills — and it still does its shareholder meetings in the pub. SKMG’s client list makes for remarkable reading despite the business still being relatively young including the likes of Seven West Media, Are Media, Forbes and Atomic 212º.
4) Camille Alarcon
Head of corporate affairs, Publicis Groupe ANZ
Alarcon made the jump from journalism to the media and marketing leviathan that is the Publicis Groupe in 2019. Managing the comms for esteemed brands such as Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett, plus a host of others, Alarcon’s job is not for the faint-hearted given the increasing scrutiny over the work they produce for their clients. But Alarcon remains approachable, engaging and interested. Six months ago, she was promoted to her new head of corporate affairs role, a well-deserved jump. Not content with managing the comms for some of the biggest agencies in the world, she also leads the ANZ Groupe’s sustainability strategy — how she finds the time to go for an occasional drink with B&T is anyone’s guess.
3) Tim Addington
Founder and director, TAG PR
Addington is the first of two poms in our top three. Coincidence? Yes. We were hard-pressed to pick a top 10, let alone who was lucky enough to make it into the medal spots. Setting up shop on his own in 2014, Addington’s PR machine is run with a polish and panache that belies the size of his operation. The fact that he can count some of the biggest and most important companies in the sector on his client list is a testament to the fantastic work that he does. Despite his current status as a PR man, Addington approaches his work with the style of an old-school journo — a training on the news desks of The Mirror Group in the UK will do that — every story that comes our way is timely, correct and interesting.
2) Rosie Baker
Group communications director, GroupM
Wrangling the sheer number of GroupM’s brands into line is far from easy. Particularly so when you have to present them to a litany of journalists who are watching every dollar that the company spends like hawks. However, Baker not only manages to get exciting stories and opportunities out to our journalists — check out our recent roundtable with the women leading the charge at GroupM here — but protects the agencies she works with relentless dedication. Many in the PR game could learn more than a thing or two from Baker.
1) Rochelle Burbury
Principal, Third Avenue Consulting
Running Third Avenue for more than a decade, Burbury’s firm manages to combine the traditional PR basics (you should see the number of press releases we receive every morning) with the finer, more delicate points of media relations. Burbury and the team offer their very extensive and influential client list with everything from communications strategy to issues management, advice, counsel, management and media training. Given Burbury’s unmatched experience within the sector — she edited B&T back in way 1986 — it’s hardly surprising that her clients win column inches and interest above and beyond their contemporaries. What’s more, Burbury is helpful, resourceful, engaging and knowledgeable in a way that very few in the PR can hope to imitate, let alone match.
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