Meet our new Head of Marketing and Storytelling Laura Wall.
In late 2019, The Shona Project team arrived were given an opportunity to pitch to a big PR firm and tell them all about our work. The pitch went so well, we came away with an actual whole new person! Laura is a brilliant bundle of creative energy, and she believed in our work straight away. We’re very lucky that she has decided to join our team, and we look forward to learning from her all about how to kill the PR game and also how to pull off the glasses and red lipstick combo that she nails. Every. Single. Time.
We had a quick chat about her love for PR and why she decided to get involved…
Hi Laura, welcome to Shona. First up, why is PR so important to you, and why do you think it’s so important to us here at Shona. What does “branding” even mean?
PR is all about relationships. I just love building relationships with journalists and people of influence for my clients’ audiences. Public Relations is the game of influencing an action or a behaviour, and for such an important organisation like Shona, it’s vital we’re delivering messages that encourage people to take action and get involved.
When did you first come across Shona and why did it resonate with you?
I met Tammy last year, and I instantly fell in love with the ambition of the organisation and everything Tammy has set up at The Shona Project. There wasn’t one person I met that week that I didn’t talk to about The Shona Project. I think being female, and having experienced difficult emotions myself growing up – I was just thrilled to see such a compelling resource for young women available here. The Shona pledge stuck with me since the day I met Tammy, and I felt energised once I was taken through the brilliance and colour of the project and the impact it has on the lives of young girls.
How was your teenage experience? You seem like a woman who has never struggled with confidence?
I enjoyed my teenage experience for the most part. There were of course difficult and emotional periods. I did go through some self-doubt at school, I was never ‘brilliant’ at any one thing subject or activity. I was ‘grand’ at most subjects and just didn’t really know what I wanted to do. My guidance councillor at school told me to go for something broad so that I could keep my options open. So I applied for Communication Studies in DCU and got it by the skin of my teeth. I think college is where I really found myself and my confidence because once I did the PR module, I was fairly certain I had found something I was quite good at!
What advice would you give any girl who would love to have a career like yours?
I think the first step in a career in PR is an undergraduate degree in Communications or similar. While you don’t need a degree to get into PR, it opens up a lot more doors. College also gives you time to develop your social and personal skills, which are critical in PR. I learned a hell of a lot during my time with the DCU Dance Society; how to run events, promote dance classes, and collaborate with other universities on national dance competitions. Joining societies in college is great, because it allows you get some practical on-the-ground experience on campus while you take classes. Work hard and the rewards will come.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve ever had to learn, personally or professionally?
Professionally there are two big ones for me. The first is to get everything in writing. If something is agreed on a phone call or in person, always follow up in an email to confirm what has been agreed, or the other party may not follow through with their side of the agreement. It also helps you reiterate deadlines and deliverables so that the goalposts are not moved.
The second lesson, is to always triple check emails. When I worked in London, I sent a pretty confidential PR plan to my client, but had also CC’d a different client. Got a pretty stern telling off from my client and I have never done it since. But I think we all need to make those mistakes to learn. The most important thing is putting your hands up and discussing with your manager if you have made an error. And even if a mistake is made in my line of work, you always have to remember “It’s PR, not ER!”.
Quick Fire Round..
What’s your go-to confidence song?
Beyoncé – Freakum Dress (played at an obnoxious volume!)
What female inspires you most?
There are so many! Can I pick two? In celeb land, I’m currently LOVING Celeste Barber and her attitude towards fighting the status quo when it comes to how we view female bodies. And then there’s my mam – she is just amazing. She has been through a lot, but still manages to be the most positive force of nature in my life. I don’t know how she does it.
Favourite person to follow on Instagram?
Obsessed with Jameela Jamil!
Most frameable quote?
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got”
Jessie Porter (educator and counsellor) 1981