Today, we’re lucky enough to talk to one of B&T’s absolutely favourite PR gurus, the wonderful Sarah Cichy – founder and director of Sydney-based Piccolo PR. Here, Ms Cichy talks her motivation, the future of PR and top tips for new graduates…
It was stories that made me get into the industry in the first place.
I tend to ‘colour outside the line’s’ of life and look at things from a creative perspective. Communication is empowering. I’ve always loved stories. People’s stories, and I can talk, read and write for hours. Media just seemed like the best fit.
Digital is changing everything and in five years time the industry will look like…?
With global trends and consumer expectations in the current environment changing at a rapid speed, customer centricity will become incredibly important. From a retail perspective we’ll need to work towards creating a personalised and optimised omni- channel experience to drive improved processes and encourage multi-channel thinking. From a philosophical perspective, developments in the social media ecosystem are giving individuals the platform to find their own voices and socialise their views. Never before have brands been able to interact so directly with their audience and improve efficiencies based on immediate feedback. We’re only at the start of a social boom. Over the next five years and beyond it’s critical that we honour the integrity of our personal branding and know what we stand for to avoid ‘tissue-paper-thinking’ based on what our neighbours are tweeting or posting.
The biggest lesson the PR industry taught me was…?
Patience and respect. PR is not about air-kisses and fancy lunches (or having lunch at all sometimes). It’s about relationships and trust and having an authentic interest in what people (and the landscape) are doing so you can work together and complement each other’s craft. It’s also taught me to identify and wrap myself around those who have a positive spirit. Good energy should always follow you.
The way I deal with difficult clients is…?
Ask them to define what success looks like to them and manage expectations along the way.
My greatest professional triumph has been….?
Having the confidence in my work and voice to step outside of my comforts to live my dream.
My take on the “education VS life experience” debate is….?
Balance. I don’t think there’s any point learning facts and figures if you can’t apply it to a social situation or be an influencer. Similarly if you preach blindly without information to simply fill silences you run the likely risk that you won’t be respected or heard. Actually, my thesis at university was ‘Is it what you know, or who you know.’ I still remember writing that monster of a thing!
My industry hero is..?
My recent hero is Sali Stevanja, co-founder of Style Runner and Poppy Renegade. She’s a true fighter. Not only because of her battle with breast cancer and her staunch determination, but she has a strong sense of self. She made me step back, look at my life and challenge the things that just weren’t working. I like that.
My advice to anyone wanting to join the industry would be…?
You have to be fit in stamina and spirit. Day to day work can unrewarding and frustrating but you have to keep lifting to find the confidence in your voice and in your work. And just make a decision and see what happens.
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