Well-known throughout the industry for her indulgent brownies, today’s industry profiles has Bec Brown, founder of PR agency Bec Brown Communications, spilling her guts to B&T.
What’s your proudest career achievement?
Creating Bec Brown Communications (BBC) as the vehicle to do brilliant work alongside both clients and colleagues who are some of the smartest, most talented, creative, kind, and wickedly funny human beings I’ve ever met.
We’ve just relaunched our website and when I looked back at our campaigns and the calibre of our clients over the past three and a half years since our launch, I’ll admit to having a bit of a moment!
And the most cringeworthy?
Gosh, where to even start…
In my very first PR gig straight out of uni, I was given a rather tricky assignment and, rather than ask for help and admit defeat (admittedly from a particularly intimidating boss who seemed to have had that effect on most of his staff), I had a George Costanza Penske file moment for a few days where I was sitting at my desk honestly having no idea what I was doing. Thankfully that passed, as did realising that asking questions is not defeat.
And not cringe worthy but a little known fact: I came from a music background and, only as little as 10 years ago, I was still performing in a kids entertainment group. We were actually quite successful with albums, DVDs and a heavy touring schedule.
The irony that BBC manage all the PR for the world’s best children’s entertainers, The Wiggles, and all ABC For Kids music releases is never lost on me.
What’s one thing you’d change about the industry if you could?
The business model for traditional PR across publicity via traditional media is a tough one. Not always, but there will sometimes be occasions where the amount of hours spent pitching may not achieve a result that reflects the time spent. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it sucks. I’ve then seen agencies spend almost as much time again writing up reports to justify their fees. From a results perspective, it’s all such a waste of time and I don’t want any part of it.
This can be solved by carefully managing client expectations from the start, but I’m grateful that BBC have evolved beyond straight media publicity into social media, corporate communications, crisis management and media training.
It’d also be handy if more people realised that some of the best work we’ve ever done, we can never talk about.
If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?
1. Counter intelligence double agent (only working for the good guys of course)
2. Baking brownies full time, while being some kind of professional athlete on the side (aspirations far outweigh ability for the latter, just to be clear).
— Bec Brown (@BecBrownComms) June 28, 2015
What’s your ultimate career goal?
I’ve learnt that I’m incredibly motivated by accruing experiences, not possessions.
Career-wise, this means:
– working with exceptionally brilliant, motivated, good-hearted people
– on projects I’m completely 100 per cent passionate about
– with a company that’s nimble enough to adapt to our ever-changing industry
– and enough flexibility to work travel on whim.
To be honest, I’m kind of there.
But corporate strategy and messaging is one part of the business I’d like to grow further because a) our team are really good at it and b) we love it.
Interestingly, we’ve never pitched for a client and I’m not convinced we’ll start anytime soon. But for any of the CMOs and CEOs reading this, we’ve the perfect skill base and expertise to get one hell of a result for an airline or another media company…
Favourite campaign of all time?
Favourite campaigns by us, two quite different ones spring to mind:
1. Bec Brown Communications managed all PR and messaging surrounding ARN’s appointment of Kyle & Jackie O and rebrand launch of Sydney’s KIIS 1065 in 2014, worked with the ARN marketing team and Melbourne PR consultant on the launch of Melbourne’s KIIS 101.1 in 2015, and with Adelaide’s MIX 102.3 and Brisbane’s 97.3FM as the stations joined the national KIIS FM network.
All rebrands were a huge success, with Sydney the highlight. Due to the rebrand, KIIS 1065 (formerly MIX 106.5) rocketed from the seventh FM rating position to number one, all in one short survey period.
2. And a tasty campaign: Willie’s Cacao, created by artisan chocolatier Willie Harcourt-Cooze, is the UK’s only ‘bean to bar’ maker of premium chocolate.
In 2014, Willie’s Cacao was launched into Coles Supermarkets sitting alongside luxury contemporaries such as Lindt and Green & Blacks. Bec Brown Communications managed all Australian launch PR with a campaign that included a media and blogger gifting and social media activation, an exclusive media and blogger cocktail event with specially created Willie’s Cacao menu, a Coles staff tasting and meet & greet at Coles HQ in Melbourne, multiple Coles in-store tasting appearances for consumers across Sydney and Melbourne, and a national media interview tour with Willie Harcourt-Cooze.
After the successful launch, Willie’s Cacao’s chocolate range has been doubled in Coles, with 12 different delicious products now stocked in Coles supermarkets around the country.
And not done by us, but Hotel Tonight do some brilliant work with their PR partners.
Along with various other activations that engaged their P1s, and having a signature cocktail created via a competition of the best bar-people in the world, they created a mobile lux ‘spontaneity suite’ that popped up in beautiful parts of Australia that you could bid to stay in, promoted by celebs, all while showing consumers how to use their app.
Everything Hotel Tonight do is always on brand and engage both their consumers and business partners. Hats off to them.
Favourite character in Mad Men?
Don Draper’s absolutely perfect, flawed imperfection.
Joan Holloway for rising above the crap, demanding to be treated as an equal and (let’s face it), her fashion sense.
Pete Campbell for his transformation from petulant child to smart operator.
Ken Cosgrove for not getting dragged down in the crazy detail and maintaining some kind of work life balance.
Roger Sterling for being so blindingly charming and occasionally strategic, but not actually doing any work (I can’t stand these people in real life. I will never work with them, yet I appreciate them all the same, you can’t help it… at surface level, many are just too damn likable!)
Reality TV – yay or nay?
As much as my fabulous FTA (free-to-air) friends won’t love this, I rarely watch reality TV. But I listen to all the radio interviews that each of the “characters” do almost every morning across our client ARN’s networks, plus keep abreast of what Nova and SCA are doing on-air and online with them all too, so end up knowing exactly what’s happened on the show without having to actually watch the shows. It’s a genius time-saver.
That said, there’s something about Real Housewives of Beverley Hills and/or Vancouver that I can’t go past when I really need to unwind. Plus they have excellent recommendations for restaurants and bars when you’re in those cities.
Tea or coffee?
Double-shot flat white for the 5am kick, then countless earl greys.
What’s your quirkiest attribute?
I feel that everything that was once considered quirky has now become the norm. Either that or I’ve begun to surround myself with like-minded people.
1. I get up ridiculously early every morning (helpful when you have so many Breakfast radio clients).
2. I only ever work at a standing desk. It does wonders for your body, although sometimes I feel like a DJ.
3. I have an incredibly hyper sense of smell. I’m talking beagle-like. It’s both a blessing and a curse. We should probably have a fragrance client.
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