While I don’t offer done for you PR anymore, I still love the PR world and count myself lucky to be able to work with industry professionals so they can create careers and businesses they love. It was, therefore, fantastic to hear from Stephanie Mullins of BlueSky Education and get an insight into her work and approach.
I really did enjoy reading about her take on work, and her passion for people and PR.
Tell me about you and your business/work.
I am hugely passionate about what I do! As Associate Director of BlueSky Education, a specialist international PR and communications consultancy for business schools and universities, we help institutions to meet their goals – from highlighting stories that are so inspiring that people apply to study, to sharing research that really does change the world. We’ve helped raise awareness of the gender pay gap, connected an academic to advise the UN through providing visibility for her research, and ensured that government advisors read findings that influence real policies. Those examples are just some of my favourites!
It also helps that I trained as a journalist before joining the wonderful world of PR so I know the stories that will fly and how to engage with the right journalists and editors to share them. There are other former journalists in the team at BlueSky too, as well as talented PRs with diverse backgrounds from the likes of business to psychology, so this mix of people is not only a joy to work with, but ensures that I’m always hearing new and insightful perspectives that keep our business as innovative and effective as it can be.
What is your morning routine before you get to your desk?
Drink green tea and watch BBC Breakfast news. I always want to know the day’s news as soon as I’m up – it often helps in case there are opportunities for clients.
What’s the first thing you do when you get to your desk?
Message ‘good morning’ on Microsoft Teams. I always check in with the team first and ensure they know I’m online. We’re all working from home so it’s important that we stay in touch and they know I’m here to help with anything.
Tongue in cheek question, what does a typical day look like for you?
It’s people first – either colleagues or clients – often that means a series of one-on-one catch-ups with my fantastic colleagues. Then it could be speaking with a new or existing client, writing a proposal, proofing a press release ready for it to go viral, craft a pitch, interview a professor about their research, host a webinar for in-house communications professionals, hold an event for business school deans, judge an award, engage on social media… the list really is endless but that variety is something I value about my role.
How have you kept your business on track over the past year and dealt with the impact of COVID?
Again, it’s all about people. Maintaining relationships with everyone in the team, as well as relationships with clients, as individuals. I think the impact of the pandemic has actually removed many of the walls between people that perhaps we didn’t even realise were there. Now we’re literally seeing into people’s homes through the likes of Zoom and Teams, for me, it’s enabled the building of much stronger connections.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for PR at the moment?
Being socially-aware. Movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo are important and future movements must be handled sensitively and effectively.
How do you deal with the stress of your work?
Trust others to help. Keep people in the loop and help everyone to understand the goal in order ensure they help along the way.
What are the non-negotiables for you in your business?
Caring about the people. Our organisation is successful because of the talented, committed and successful individuals that make up the team. Supporting them is non-negotiable.
We know working in PR can be stressful, how do you look after yourself, as well as your clients?
I’m fortunate in that my work in PR is also a passion. I love PR – so I’d rarely class it as stressful – but I have learned to treat challenges as opportunities, and that’s certainly helped to cultivate an environment where I’m not ‘stressed’ by certain situations. It’s often about focusing on solutions rather than problems. I also believe that stress is contagious, especially top down within an organisation, and I’d never want to inflict that emotion on others, whether colleagues or clients.
Perhaps it’s also worth explaining that business and higher education PR isn’t necessarily what people think of when they say PR – we operate in a high level, senior setting where goals are often long-term rather than immediate.
What plans do you have for the rest of 2021?
Continue to grow the business, supporting more ambitious institutions, while encouraging the ongoing development of our brilliant team. I also plan to host more events for in-house professionals at universities, business schools and other related bodies.
What advice would you have for someone looking to start a PR career?
Understand where your strengths lie and match that to the sort of PR that would suit you. The industry that BlueSky thrives in means that people need to be strong writers, great relationship-builders, have a sense of curiosity that extends to reading academic papers, have the confidence to speak with prestigious clients like deans and professors who influence the future of business, and show an understanding of the evolving higher and business education industries.
What motto do you live and work by?
There are two I’d like to share:
1. Other people’s actions are not a reflection of you
2. You never know what someone is going through
These two ensure that you are always considerate with others, whether colleague or client. I value being able to motivate others and maintain an upbeat, enthusiastic outlook – being understanding of others helps me to achieve this.
I absolutely love Stephanie’s approach to how to treat people as well as her dedication to her clients and career.
If you’d like to share how you work as a PR professional, get in touch and I would love include you in my Day in the Life series.