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The Social side of PR: Kate Potter

Kate Potter, Hughes PR

Kate Potter works with communications management consultancy Hughes Public Relations and Communication Counsel. Her specialty at Hughes is digital and social media, working with organisations who want to reach their target audiences using online platforms. We asked Kate about her social media gig, keeping up with platform changes, and her time in media monitoring …

You’re primarily a social media consultant – do you think this needs to be a stand-alone role in agencies today, or should all comms practitioners be across social media?
I believe all communications practitioners should be across social media – they need to include it as a constant consideration in their strategies. However I don’t think everyone needs to be an “expert”. With the increasing diversification of media and communications attention, if communications practitioners try to cover it all then there is a real danger of them becoming a “jack of all trades, master of none” – there are only so many hours in the day!

Therefore I think a specialist social media consultant is an important stand-alone role in agencies today – someone to champion the role of social media in communications strategy, enact specialist campaigns, and support colleagues internally.

What are your thoughts on the new AANA guidelines for ‘online influencers’?
What audiences value highly in any interaction with online influencers is authenticity and honesty.

I think the AANA Guidelines are important to make sure both marketers and online influencers understand how best to communicate with social media audiences in that authentic and honest way – it will benefit everyone in the long run.

Tell us about your time in media monitoring. What did you learn about PR firms then?
I worked for almost seven years with Media Monitors (now iSentia). I started as a broadcast monitor – literally summarising television and radio broadcasts – and then made my way into the account team, and then as State Manager for the South Australian office. In this role, I worked with the PR industry as a supplier – almost every comms professional in Adelaide was a client of mine.

When something unexpected happens it’s “all hands on deck”
and it so important to get it right, often quickly.

My time at Media Monitors taught me a lot about how PR firms work – but in particular, how important public relations counsel is in a crisis. When something unexpected happens it’s “all hands on deck” and it so important to get it right, often quickly.

Tell us about a campaign you’ve enjoyed working on …
I love seeing results from great social media content and activity – I keep a keen eye on how things are going and love monthly reporting! One of the best things about my role is that I get to work with a whole range of clients and projects daily.

Kate Potter, Hughes PRAt Hughes we’ve worked with Adelaide Airport Limited for over 15 years, on corporate communications at all levels. One of my favourite projects that we’ve worked on recently was taking their Instagram presence to the next stage. There is never a shortage of beautiful imagery to share that taps into the airport experience and highlights the excitement of travel. We use the Instagram account to share news about airport services, airlines, retail and the economic contribution that air travel services make to Adelaide.

Also, people love to share their travel experience on Instagram, so we get to see the airport through their eyes.

How do you keep up with changes in the social media environment?
First of all, getting in there, getting hands dirty and using it every day. I don’t think you can be a social media specialist without having a personal passion for the platforms.

One of the best resources I have for keeping up with changes is my fellow social media professionals. I’m part of a few online groups where community members share news, ask questions, talk about their successes (and sometimes challenges!), get tech support, and discuss the industry in an open and supportive way.

I don’t think you can be a social media specialist
without having a personal passion for the platforms.

While some of us may be “competitors”, ultimately we all share the same goal – to ensure that social media communication is seen as an important, valuable part of any organisation’s marketing strategy.

One of these groups is Social Media Club Adelaide – I encourage anyone interested in social media communication to join the Facebook group where there’s lots of active discussion and information sharing, and follow the Facebook page where you can find out about events and meet ups.

What advice would you give a third-year university student who’s keen to work in PR?
Be a student of language and grammar – write a lot and ask for lots of feedback. My one year as a broadcast monitor at Media Monitors taught me more about writing (and particularly writing for the “news” environment) than the preceding 15 years of education, simply because I was doing it for 40 hours a week.

When it comes to your work experience placements, be enthusiastic, friendly and willing to help with everything. We really do remember the interns we’ve had here at Hughes and we often recommend the high performing ones for roles in the industry.

Finally, if you are doing work experience – never zone out and play with your phone during a meeting!

Time for a fun question: you’ve worked in the wine industry, too. What’s your favourite drop and why?
I love trying new and unique wines – the explosion of alternate varieties in the South Australian industry in recent years has been great for consumers but also for producers, who get to experiment and explore. However, if I was to choose a favourite I can’t go past a sparkling. Something like a bone-dry Prosecco is perfect.

“Always keep a bottle of Champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes, the special occasion is that you’ve got a bottle of Champagne in the fridge.” – Hester Browne