Behind the Headlines with Alfred’s Gemma Pears

Gemma Pears, co-founder of PR firm Alfred, on the infectious buzz that only people who work in PR will understand, the fear of her first pitch to a journalist and where she likes to get consumer insight on brands.

Before I reach the office in the morning, I’ve already…
Been up a good four hours, fed, watered, dressed, and played a lot of games with my children. Walked a few miles to the station, read the news, caught up on social media and checked out my emails. I’m definitely a morning person!

You’ll mostly find emails about…in my inbox.
Work, work and more work. I did a huge clear out of subscriptions and junk mail before Christmas, and it’s so nice to actually have an inbox full of relevant and interesting emails.

I know I’ve had a good day if…
I get everything done and don’t have to run full pelt to the station to make it home on time. With two small children I know the meaning of ‘time management’ more than ever.

My first job was…
Washing hair in my mam’s hairdressing salon every Thursday and Friday after school and all day Saturday. I still help out when I go home sometimes, as I genuinely find it one of the most interesting insights into the consumer of today.

I’ve heard PR campaigns talked about, shared and wholeheartedly debated like they were gospel. It really hits home how what we do directly influences and reaches the audience in their space. We’ve been known to do a focus group or two in the salon on the outskirts of Newcastle and the takeouts are fascinating.

I can tell a campaign is succeeding when…
There is that buzz in the office. Everyone is energised and excited, there’s constant chatter on the phone and the sound of new emails landing. Whether it’s a celebrity driven stunt or a serious business story, when it’s going well there is an unmistakable infectious buzz that anyone that has worked in PR will understand.

I eat….when nobody is watching.
Hmm, I eat pretty much anything regardless of who is watching.

The first time I pitched to a journalist…
I put the phone down after he screamed ‘YES’ louder and more aggressively than any-person-that-has-ever-answered-a-phone. I then pretended there was no answer to my director and sat for a clear five minutes thinking ‘what the hell am I doing here’. The fear didn’t last long. I just learnt the art of a highly targeted approach and getting your pitch correct very quickly.

I then quite enjoyed pitching to the ‘YES’ journalist and hearing their change of tone when they realised they wanted to listen to what I had to say.

The worst thing anyone has said to me is…
You have far too much energy and enthusiasm as a team. I think that one will go down in career history. Someone so bored by their own brand is really not good, either to be them or to work with them.

The last book I read was…
Err, Peppa Pig? The Gruffalo? Goodnight Tractor? All three multiple times a day for about three months straight.

I’ve never really understood why…
People fail to walk in anyone else’s shoes. As sanctimonious as it sounds, it’s true. We all need to be a bit kinder and accommodating of others and realise clients and journalists also have bosses and deadlines and targets. Don’t take it personally.

If I could go back and talk to my 10-year-old self, I’d say…
Enjoy being 10! I’m not really one for ‘if only I’d known/done it…back then’.

This time next year, I’ll be…
Continuing to be incredibly proud of the amazing work we’re doing for our ever-growing list of amazing clients.

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