Rebecca Henderson created her PR and lifestyle blog Bright Lights Big City after falling in love with public relations in 2008. Although there is a heavy focus on PR and social media, the blog also discusses film, beauty, and places to eat, making Bright Lights Big City an insightful blog which has a very personal tone. In this spotlight, Rebecca who featured on our top 10 UK PR blogs by women, chats to us about how she uses her blog to introduce her readers to PR, the growing importance that metrics in measuring campaigns, why she is determined to break down the gender pay gap in the industry and the impact Brexit is having on PR.
Can you introduce yourself and speak a little about your professional background? My name is Rebecca Henderson and I run the PR and lifestyle blog, Bright Lights Big City.
I first knew I wanted to be in PR when I started doing promotions and talent handling for a successful nightclub in 2008. When I organised my first event, a fashion show which attracted the attention of the UK heads of Levi’s, Karen Millen and Barbour, I knew public relations was for me.
Since 2009 I have worked in PR gaining experience in a wide range of industries, from working on an international sailing race to Clinique’s press office in the heart of London. I’m now working for a boutique PR agency, called Lee Peck Media, based on the south coast of England that deals with a range of clients regionally, nationally and internationally.
This hands on experience is also supported by a PR Masters with Merit from Southampton Solent, one of the UK’s top creative universities and PR studies at the London College of Fashion.
How did you get into blogging? In 2011 I started my blog, Bright Lights Big City, as I wanted to use it as a platform to establish myself in the PR industry. But, I lacked direction, purpose and I was fearful of putting myself out there. Things started to change during my Masters in PR where I was encouraged to blog as part of the course but, a lack of time restricted my efforts and writing felt forced.
Finally, in August 2016 I decided to have a proper attempt at blogging, and if I wasn’t enjoying it after three months I would move on knowing I’d given it my best shot. It was then that I evolved Bright Lights Big City into a PR and lifestyle blog so I could write about a larger range of topics and began posting consistently. Since I made this commitment, the blog has gone from strength to strength.
What do you most like about working in PR? What are the challenges? It’s different every day, PR is really stimulating and constantly evolving. My favourite part is the creative side, brainstorming new ideas and coming up with campaign strategies.
PR faces a few challenges, some of the big ones are metrics and evolution of the industry. Metrics have historically been fluffy and inaccurate, but we’re starting to see content analysis and other ways to measure campaigns develop. Technology has rapidly changed PR and the industry is now a continually evolving landscape. I think the changes in PR make it an exciting industry to work in.
Why should people read your blog? What makes your blog different from other PR blogs? My PR and blogging journey hasn’t been straight forward, initially it was very lonely, I was insecure and it made me feel quite isolated. I share my experiences on my blog in an effort to prevent other people from feeling like this. As a result my approach is fairly personal and all the content is original. My aim is to introduce a much larger audience to PR, comment on topical news and offer tips and advice to those starting out. I try and break aspects of PR down so it’s accessible and adds value, I want the reader to have gained something from reading my post.
Most other PR blogs only focus on PR, mine is a mix of topics. Life isn’t one sided, it’s made up of lots of amazing things. That’s why I write on various topics in PR and lifestyle to make it diverse and interesting for everyone. PR is in a lot of aspects of life and I like the scope to write about it all!
Even statistics show that women make up the majority of the PR industry, there are still inequalities that face women such as the gender pay gap. What are your thoughts on this? This disparity makes me angry. Women have fought so hard to align themselves with men, to be equal. This barrier is yet another to break down. A headache from a previous generation that is disheartening for those starting and progressing their careers.
If more people bring attention and more awareness to this subject, hopefully pay will even out between genders. Legislation might help stop the gap. But, that then runs very quickly into grey territory where the ‘pay depending on experience’ argument can be used. I have no doubt any rule would be extremely difficult to monitor and enforce.
I’m hoping the recent press attention will bring the topic enough attention to make decision makers think and make an effort to stop gender pay gaps from occurring. Education and awareness is key. Be bold for change. I wrote a blog on this in January.
Aside from the gender pay gap and diversity in PR, what other challenges are currently facing the industry in 2017? I think the rise of fake news is interesting, and the obvious hot topic of Brexit. Leaving the EU will change lots things for companies and PR teams will be facing new communication challenges. We’ve just got no idea in what way yet!
What big trends do you think we will see this year in relation to PR? Video and the social media transition to pay to play. It’s going to change the dynamic again!
What is the best way for PRs to demonstrate ROI in 2017? There are lots of ways to demonstrate ROI in 2017, I’m a huge fan of metrics in the form of content analysis but it really depends on what your client values. Are they focused on finances? Or do they value brand reputation or their brand value rankings? A tailored approach around what your client values with KPI’s is important.
What do you think about PR software companies like Vuelio? Vuelio is a fantastic PR tool and it helps make the bread and butter of PR life a lot easier. Having a resource to instantly identify and reach top influencers, access to media lists and help with media monitoring and analysis is a huge time-saving benefit.
What’s next for you? Are you working on any exciting new projects? Bright Lights Big City is growing quickly, so I’m going to spend some time working on new features to add different content. I’m keen to introduce some interview posts and encourage more people to ask more questions about PR. There are lots of changes with Facebook, Instagram and Google at the moment so I’ll be focusing on those too. There are a few projects in the pipeline, I’ve got a couple of collaborations coming up, but I’d love to do more.